What does it mean to “gather” in an increasingly divided world? How are we going to gather, carrying different histories and realities with us?
Featuring dialogues, essays and photography, the bilingual anthology An/Other Gathering (edited by Ophelia Jiadai Huang and Zhao Chuan) is a snapshot of exchanges among artists, curators and theorists of different generations reflecting on topics such as inter-cultural practice, language and silence, society and community. It is both an extension of “Staging Alterity,” a project of performance and discussions initiated by Zhao Chuan and Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council, and an alternative form of exploration in this pandemic time. Digital versions of this anthology, both in Chinese and English, can be downloaded for free from this website.
“Staging Alterity” was held at Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum in 2016 and at Shanghai Ming Contemporary Art Museum (McaM) in 2018. Performance artists and researchers from Asia, Africa, America and Europe, as well as local practitioners in China, were invited to share their practice and their experience of various histories and regions over the course of four days. Co-curated by Zhao Chuan and Ophelia Jiadai Huang, who participated in the previous two editions as an artist, the third edition of “Staging Alterity” was originally to be held in Shanghai in 2020. Due to the change brought by Covid-19, the two curators turned to text to develop a new way of sharing. An/Other Gathering is not only a collection of thoughts and practice gathered through “Staging Alterity” previously; it also seeks to create a place for new dialogues between past and future.
Apart from revisiting archives, the book commissioned new articles and dialogues by several artists, scholars and curator from different places and generations. These conversations took place during the isolation caused by Covid-19 between 2020 and 2021, representing “another gathering” or an alternative form and will to communicate. In the moment of suspended international mobility and disrupted exchange, time and words kindly allow us to gather in another way. As one of the contributors, theater scholar Rustom Bharucha said, it is “a record of a particular point in time when theatre scholars/practitioners from across the world were attempting to have a genuine and honest dialogue”. Or maybe, an inspiration for the future as the contributors hope.
Artists and contributors are key to An/Other Gathering. Some of them met through “Staging Alterity” and have furthered their friendship since; others are new guests, including several practitioners and scholars active in curating and research. The contributors include: Rustom Bharucha (Kolkata), Charlie Haffner (Freetown), Ophelia Jiadai Huang (Shanghai), Eisa Jocson (Manila), Kyung-Sung Lee (Seoul), Boris Nikitin (Basel), Hannah Pfurtscheller (Basel), Kai Tuchmann (Berlin), Wang Mo-Lin (Taipei), Sankar Venkateswaran (Attappadi), Ana Vujanovic (Berlini/Belgrade), Wu Meng (Shanghai), Xu Bin (Taipei), You Mi (Kassel/Beijing), and Zhao Chuan (Shanghai).
This project is supported by Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council.