RAM Conversation Red: Body as Archive RAM对谈 : 红：身体档案
About the Conversation 关于对谈
The exhibition An Opera for Animals takes the history of opera as its departure point in exploring the relationship between contemporary/traditional performance, fantasy, group spectacle and the environments in which they inhabit. In the West, at the height of opera’s development, the art form became increasingly integrated with the ambitious colonialist visions and political clout of European countries. As another art form native to the West, ballet was a form of dance enjoyed in royal courts, and in the 1950s had never been used before as a political symbol. However, as we reflect on our own history, ballet entered China infused with ideological significance - ballet experts from the Soviet Union were invited to teach the dance form in Beijing, China, demonstrating the friendly political relations between China and the Soviet Union.
Due to the prevalence of revolution-themed plays during the period of the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese people were not strangers to the art of ballet, one could even go so far as to say they were quite familiar with it. The ballet The Red Detachment of Women, being the most famous example, is the most classic instance of “Chinese appropriation of Western culture” by Chinese people, that is infused with national ideologies. During this time, ballet dancers in these contemporary revolutionary dramas were tasked with a prominent ideological function – they were the story-tellers of China’s national image.
While art has a liberating spirit, it also has its aspect of formal training. In whatever facet of art, it is always produced through specific, repeated techniques. To analyze such techniques is the starting point for investigating how specific artworks and art styles create dialogues, shape and mold bodies, as well as for identification purposes. Just how did the language of dance in these revolutionary dramas mold and train the bodies of their dancers, and how did it construct the images of characters within these dramas?
Choreographer and dancer Wen Hui belongs to the generation of dancers who have enacted and matured through eight of those model dramas, and carries mixed feelings and experiences concerning the artistic works of that era. In a manner that could be called “archival theater”, she revisited the ballet The Red Detachment of Women. With the emerging reconstructions of social class narratives and historical accounts, as well as the complex influences that the discourse of Liberation has had on the relationship between sexes, the body has become a means for the recording of events and thus an important historical archive.
For this talk we have invited Wen Hui, creator of Red and Li Jing, Associate Professor of Sociology at Zhejiang University to review and reflect on the fabrication of content within model operas as an art form, with the hope of understanding the relationships between the present age, the individual and art. The objective of establishing such a connection between the Cultural Revolution period and present-day society lies in exploring the current duplication and consumption of those once-politicized cultural symbols, as well as the contemporary significance of the budding feminist consciousness hidden within the massive narrative of social class liberation.
About the Speakers 关于讲者
LI Jing, Associate professor of sociology at Zhejiang University, Ph.D. graduate from the State University of New York. Li’s fields of research include: sociology of knowledge, political sociology and comparative history.
WEN Hui, Choreographer and dancer. She also makes documentary films and installations. She is one of the pioneers of Chinese contemporary dance theatre. Wen Hui graduated from Beijing Dance Academy in 1989 with a degree in Choreography. In 1994, she studied modern dance in New York. From 1997 to 1998, she received a scholarship from Asian Cultural Council to further her study of modern dance and theatre making in New York. In 1994, she formed Living Dance Studio with Wu Wenguang in Beijing, and has participated in curating and organizing numerous arts projects. For twenty years, Wen Hui has insisted in using theatre as an intervention in the society. Since 2008, she began to research the ways body form the archive of personal social documentation, using personal means to experiment how bodily memory catalyzes collision between history and reality. Living Dance Studio is an independent non-profit contemporary dance creative collective. Since 1994 till now, the company has been active at the cutting-edge of Chinese contemporary art as well as the most probing stages and festivals internationally. They have presented their works in over seventy cities in thirty countries, winning international high appraisals.French magazine Télescope describes Wen Hui as “a pioneer of dance…a miracle.” In 2015 wenhui’s work: “Dancing with Third Grandmother” “Dancing with Farmer workers"at the Venice Biennale in Italy.In 2004, Report on Body by Living Dance Studio won the “ZKB Patronage Prize” in Zürcher Theater Spektakel. In 2005, Wen Hui and Wu Wenguang established Caochangdi Workstation and co-curated the first “Cross-arts” International Dance Festival in Beijing. In the same year, they initiated European Artists Exchange Project and Young Choreographers Project.
文慧，舞蹈编导，舞者，同时做纪录片和装置作品。中国当代舞蹈剧场先锋。1989年毕业于北京舞蹈学院编导系。1994年赴美国纽约学习现代舞。1997至1998年获美国亚洲文化基金会 (Asian Cultural Council ) 奖金，再赴纽约研修现代舞及戏剧创作。1999至2000年加入美国著名当代编舞家Ralph Lemon 舞蹈团，在纽约BAM 2000 Next Wave Festival及美国巡演《地理三部曲 - Tree 》。1994年在北京创建“生活舞蹈工作室”。2005年文慧与吴文光共同创建草场地工作站，并共同创办《交叉》北京国际现代舞演出季。同年，他们开启了欧洲艺术家交流计划和青年编舞家计划。2015年文慧参与策划上海当代艺术博物馆PSA“聚裂”表演项目。25年来，文慧一直坚持以剧场的方式介入社会， 2008年她开始研究身体作为个人记录社会的资料馆和档案库，尝试身体记忆如何将历史与现实碰撞。2009年法国《望远镜》杂志称文慧为“舞蹈的拓荒者……一个奇迹”。 2015年“56届威尼斯双年展”参展艺术家，2011年，开始纪录片创作。2013年，开始做装置作品。2004年《身体报告》获苏黎世艺术节（ZÜRCHER THEATER SPEKTAKL）奖：ZKB Award。