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Shen Bolun | 2022 Residency

Switzerland | Theatre

Oct.14-Dec.18, 2022 — Theatre

Nationality: China
Residency location: Basel
Partner organization: Kaserne Basel

Born in 1989 in China, Bolun studied business and economics in Canada for a short period of time and graduated from Communication University of China in 2012. After having worked in journalism and marketing industry, he started focusing on independent art projects since 2013, mainly film/video, performance, social activity, narrative, etc.  His work has been invited or presented worldwide, including Finland, Italy, the US, China, etc.

Most of his personal projects do not necessarily end up in attending exhibitions or residencies, but rather make influences to the real world. Bolun believes art is not only aesthetic or spiritual, but should also make a difference in social awareness, especially in China. He would see his work playing an important role in driving and pushing forwards both socially and individually in China.

One of the most common ways Bolun implants in his work is conversations. He has practiced various types of projects with such methods such as filming and documenting, cross-time/space video editing, theatrical interviewing, debate settings in theater, media coverage writing, social activities etc. He truly believes words, language, communication and even conflicts would create power and change. In a more divided and populistic world, thought-provoking projects which involve real communications are what we need. Apart from verbally oriented projects, Bolun would also love to make some quick and short symbolic performances that might cause some curiosity, disturbance or insecurity in the authority centralized society.

The Colosseum is an interactive theatrical project that rebuilds conversations and debates which involve voting systems, deliberation procedures and authority management. There is no script or professional actors/actresses participating, instead, an open discussion/debate/deliberation procedure is followed that everything happens on stage is improvisation and real-time interaction as all participants are average people. The storyline of the play is imaginary and fictional that Bolun and his team (He Fa and Yifan) have started a mysterious group to organize a civil Solution Conference for a future world. By far, the Conference has been held 9 times in Beijing, China, each time with the very different voting system and procedure settings from direct to deliberate democracy, from totally open discussion to topic-oriented jury consensus.

Bolun is curious about how direct democracy work in Switzerland, how political and ritual traditions mean for the Swiss, how a neutral state plays a role in Swiss daily life and how voting actually affects an ordinary people’s life. Apart from that, he would like to understand what role social media plays in Swiss netizens life and what the most heated conflicts online is like and how it got solved since internet environment is always a battlefield in China that building a calm conversation is a forever difficulty. Hopefully, there will be a theatrical conversation designed between Chinese and Swiss, no matter it’s live or online zoom version. Bolun and his team want to make more changes for the place we live and love, and theatre and performance is where we can hide from. They are seeking for new rules and new justice in an imaginary world. Switzerland, as a neutral state, will be the place to witness.

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