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Performing Arts

“Staging Alterity 2023” Special Project Shanghai: Regathering


Date: May 21, 2023, 14:00-21:30
Address: No 300-2, Yunjin Rd, Xuhui District, Shanghai
Free Entry, No RSVP

Event Agenda:
14:00-14:30 Looking Back & Share: Zhao Chuan
14:30-15:30 Speech & Talk: Wu Sifeng
15:45-17:15 Speech & Talk: Lucie Tuma
19:30-20:10 Live Performance: Dino Radončić & Chen Keng
20:40-21:10 Live Performance: Wu Meng

Supported by Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council

The cross-cultural performance and discussion project, “Staging Alterity” was jointly initiated and promoted by Zhao Chuan and Pro Helvetia Shanghai, Swiss Arts Council. It was held twice in 2016 and 2018 at the Minsheng Art Museum and the Ming Contemporary Art Museum in Shanghai, respectively. In addition to presenting a series of live performances, there were also multiple lectures and artist workshops held. Invited artists came from various countries and regions, including Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America, with diverse backgrounds in dance, theatre, performance, film, theory, and curation. They shared their own practices and exchanged experiences from different historical and geographical backgrounds.

In 2020 and 2021, as a continuation of the project, Zhao Chuan and Huang Jiadai edited “An/other Gathering – Performance in Multiple Realities“. This book collects theatre creators, curators, and scholars from different regions and generations in the form of dialogues, articles, and photography, engaging in discussions on topics such as cross-culture, language and silence, society and community. It is also an alternative form of exploring cross-cultural communication during the pandemic.

In 2023, a new edition of “Staging Alterity” was initiated by theater artist Zhao Chuan (Shanghai) and co-created with Anuja Ghosalkar (Bangalore), Qondiswa James (Cape Town), Pierre-Angelo Zavaglia (Geneva/Paris), as well as musicians Dimitri de Perrot (Zurich) and Léo Collin (Zurich), forming a collaborative and performative group beyond geographical and generational boundaries, jointly investing in this international cross-cultural, intermedia, and online/offline research and creation project. Their experimental live work “Youth in History,” which they collaborated on, will be presented to the audience in the spring of 2023 through parallel online and offline channels.

Today, especially after experiencing three years of the pandemic, we need to start anew and rethink our understanding of “communication”, particularly in regards to “cross-cultural communication”. Who are “we” and who are the “others”? Are we also our own “others”? How should we view Francis Fukuyama’s assertion that “identity has replaced class as the new dividing line of our times”? What is “cross-culturalism within locality”? Does locality imply anti-Western sentiment? Under the bundling of diverse cultures, how can we truly unite and form temporary communities, as described by Chen Jieren? As we reconsider this topic, many questions immediately arise. Finding answers at this moment may be difficult, even impossible, but can we approach it from a perspective of asking imaginative, visionary, and reflective questions? Is this another way of making progress? Or should we return to our work practices, whether individually or collaboratively?

All of these provided the inspiration for this “reunion”. Lucie Tuma (Zurich/London) and Wu Sifeng (Taipei/Hualien) are both experienced artists who have worked in various fields such as curation, teaching, writing, and performance. In the afternoon, they will share their experiences and reflections on cross-cultural communication, and then pose questions to Zhao Chuan for him to respond to. In the evening, theatre creator Wu Meng from Shanghai, and the artist duo Dino Radončić & Chen Keng from Zurich/Hangzhou, will use their works to raise questions on the topic in a live setting.

Staging Alterity”, let’s revisit, let’s regather.

Speech One: Wu Sifeng “Self-Translation and Mutual Enlightenment”

If “cross” means stitching between plural cultures and then moving forward, then when we discuss cross-cultural theater, we simultaneously face the cultural hybridity that exists within “me.” For Asia, this often includes the tortuous and painful history of colonization. In other words, multiple modernities shape our ways of understanding the world, which are not only visible “externally,” but also gradually hidden in the unconsciousness of history “internally.” In this context, translation is the process of turning one language into another more readable one, and through the translation of theater and performance, it may be a demystifying action to re-express those visible or invisible hybrid cultures, emotions, and memories.

Wu Sifeng

Wu Sifeng, originally from Taipei and currently residing in Hualien, is primarily involved in theater through writing, editing, planning, and production. He is interested in the practice of small theater and the re-reading of its lineage, as well as non-metropolitan theater creation and operation, theater ecology and institutionalization, criticism, and media.

His recent planning works include “All That Needs to Be Said Is Here – Ma Hua Literature Theater” (2015), “Critical Point Theatre Recording and Its Epochal Experience – Co-learning Lecture 03” (2017), “The Practice of ‘Common’ – Theater and Society Discussion Forum” (2017), etc.

His production works include “The Second Shuitian Tribe Performance Art Festival” (2018), Blacklist Studio’s “Hamlet Machine Interpretation Theory” – Image Project (Phase One), “The Second Back to the Southern Island – Asia Performance Art Festival” (2017), and “Wang Nan Art Review” (2019), among others.

He, with Zheng Yinzhen, has also served as the editor of “Intimate: Gao Junyao’s Play Selection” (2019) and Khí-loh-thiap. Jī: Art Troupe and Contemporary Theater Special Issue” (2022), and has collaborated with various theater groups to edit publications.

Speech Two: Lucie Tuma “‘weaving’ & ‘wreathing’ as practices of relation”

The practice of making relations is how I live, work and wonder. To my understanding, the notion of “relation” isn’t merely a signifier for humans and their relations amongst each other through their cultures, networks and technologies. More so, the making of relations expands to an ecological approach of humans embedded on a planet within a more-than-human scale. This outlook calls for an ethics of care and compassion toward all forms of existence. It also asks for a deep investment into questions how “being human” is being practiced, regulated and understood both locally, geopolitically and historically.

In this talk, I will suggest ‘weaving’ & ‘wreathing’ as practices to relate to, as well as live and work by an ecological approach to one’s surrounding. Important to this approach is an ongoing process of acknowledging difference and deep listening. To quote philosopher and artist Denise Ferreira da Silva, such modes of relating leads us to be “different but not separate – in difference and yet not to be separated from each other.”

Through sharing recent experiences of transnational collaborations since 2020, I will reflect upon how practices of ‘weaving’ & ‘wreathing’ may be manifest in my work already and how they may come into play for current and future endeavors.

Lucie Tuma

Lucie Tuma works as an artist, choreographer and researcher based in Zurich. Her practice generates time-based sculptures in times lacking time through material-based processes, poetics and critical fabulation. Her latest work Chænelings”, a transnational collaboration in co-authorship with Kiraṇ Kumār and Mamela Nyamza premiered in December 2022 at Gessnerallee Zurich, where she has been artist-in-residency since 2010. In her time as a studio resident of Pro Helvetia Shanghai, she will research practices of mourning based upon the question, how crows and others, humans or more-than-humans may carry out their labor of mourning. Since 2012, she has been involved as a researcher outside and inside institutions, studying and teaching theory and practice within the field of Performing Arts.

In 2020, she became member of the curatorial board at Shedhalle Zürich (CH) where she is programming one exhibition per year (2020-2025). During this time, she is completing her PhD on “The making of Ecologies of Attention” at JLU University Giessen (D) and ZHdK –  Zurich University of Arts (CH) as part of the process-based approach of her curatorial practice at Shedhalle.

Her works have been presented, a.o. at Gessnerallee Zurich(CH), Tanzhaus Zurich(CH), Gâre du Nord Basel(CH), Kunstmuseum Basel(CH), ADC Geneva(Swiss Dance Days 2017), Usine Geneva(CH), Südpol Lucerne(CH), Brut Vienna(A), Sophiensaele Berlin(D), MDT Stockholm (S), Inkonst Malmö(S), Kampnagel Hamburg(D), Mousonturm Frankfurt(D), BoraBora Århus(DK), Dansehallerne Købnhavn(DK), ACC Gwanju(KOR), Zarya Center for Contemporary Art Wladiwostok(RUS), Saari Finland(FI), Kinosaki International Art Center(J) and Art Safiental Biennale 2020(CH).

Work Presentation One: Dino Radončić & Chen Keng “See U On Tuesday 周二见”

[26.08.18, 13:21:38] ‎Nachrichten und Anrufe sind Ende-zu-Ende-verschlüsselt. Niemand außerhalb dieses Chats kann sie lesen oder anhören, nicht einmal WhatsApp.

[04.05.2023 11:59:33] Dino: The moment the (internet) connection is gone we realize that we are far away from each other. We sit in our spaces in silence, in hope that we could reconnect. Reconnect our mobile phones and reconnect the different life’s we live.

[04.05.2023 12:37:33] Keng: Such interruptions are not uncommon elsewhere in life. Sometimes it’s a moment of interruption like this that only lasts for a few seconds. Sometimes it’s our jet lags that hold on to us for too long. And sometimes it’s the long time periods when we don’t hear from each other in months, when we make different memories and experiences at different times on different days in different years. What stays is the reassurance and trust in reconnection.

[04.05.2023 12:41:28] Dino: Soon enough another 5 years pass by! Do you remember?

[26.08.18, 13:21:38] Dino: heyyyy friend! 吃过了么?

[26.08.18, 13:27:46] Keng: Hhhh, yeap. I just woke up and finished eating.吃饱La~

[26.08.18, 13:31:47] Keng: Then I may be able to arrive on time

[26.08.18, 13:33:18] Dino: hhahaha good!

[26.08.18, 13:34:02] Keng: See u later ~

Dino Radončić

Dino Radončić, b.1994 in St. Gallen(CH), lives and works in St. Gallen/Zürich(CH) The center of Dino Radončićs practice is always based around the human and it’s supposedly boring and banal everyday life practices and experiences. By using ethnographic field research as a method, he will always be found where routines of the everyday happen to translate them into video works, performances or objects. No trace of human life is ever too small or worthless to not to listen to its historical or cultural stories and manifestations.

Dino Radončić studied BA in Design at the Zurich University of Art(ZHdK), obtained his MA in Visual Arts Hong Kong Baptist Academy of Visual Arts(HKBU/AVA) as well as his MA in Transdisciplinarity in the Arts at the Zurich University of Arts(ZHdK). He is supported by the Ernst Göhner Study foundation and is part of the RRRRR Collective together with Keng Chen, Liu Wenqi, Nikolaj Eneas Prawdic, Stefan Stojanovic and Nathalie Stirnimann.

Chen Keng

Chen Keng, b.1995 in Chaozhou(CHN),lives and works Hangzhou/Shanghai(CHN). She holds a master’s degree in Experimental Art and Performing art from SIMA(School Of Inter Media Arts) at CAA(China Academy of Art). A member of Asia-Europe RRRRR Group, Hangzhou TAI Group, and 回响Echoing Group.

Keng Chen’s practice focuses on the exploration and practice of live art, concentrating on the expression of the border between theater art and performance art. She uses the body as the basis to combine video, installation, sound and other media for independent and group co-creation. Her terminus a quo is daily life and communicating personal experiences within the context of contemporary society. It’s a process of trying to solve one’s own doubts while questioning other individuals, a kind of poetics embodied by seizing the ideas that come from and vanish into the everyday. At the same time, it pays attention to the collision of individual identity and the social experience within different cultural contexts and frameworks.

Work Presentation Two: Wu Meng “Before the Bees Die…”

The sentence “Before the bees die…” runs like a thread throughout the theme and emotions of the work. The light poetic quality is like a gentle stream, making the texture of the work more delicate and soft. The deceased rests in peace, but what the living holds may only be a weapon for survival.

Wu Meng’s work cross theatre, performance art, documentary film, and other genres. Her theater works includes The Garden of Metamorphoses (playwright, director and performer, 2013), I am Being Chased by Life (playwright and director 2015, 2016), The World Is Rolling in My Life (playwright and director 2016) among others. Her recent works focus around the connections between history and individual life, and the possibilities of dialogue. Wu Meng also presented performance art pieces in the OPEN International Performance Art Festival (2013) , First Southeast Asian Biennale (2014) etc, Wuzhen International Theatre Festival (2015 Wuzhen), “Staging Alterity” (2016 Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum and 2017 Ming Contemporary Art Museum), “RAM HIGHLIGHT 2019: Before the Whistle Sounds” (2019 Shanghai Rockbund Art Museum) etc and “Spontaneous Decisions II” (West Bund Art Museum, 2021).

She is the founding members of important Chinese theatre collective Grass Stage since 2005.

The documentary “Shanghai Youth” co-directed by her was selected as one of the top ten Chinese independent documentaries in the China Independent Film Festival in 2014.


Zhao Chuan

Born in 1967, Zhao Chuan is a multi-disciplinary artist spanning across theatre, literature, film, and contemporary art. He is a co-founder and leader of the grassroots theater troupe “Grass Stage” since 2005. He is dedicated to exploring the interweaving of art and social practice, including the personal, collective, physical, speculative, documentary, and poetic aspects. He has published “On Radical Art: the 80s Scene in Shanghai” (2014) and “Beyond the Stage: Zurich Sketches” (2021), among other works.

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