3 hours, 04/01/2014 @ CiYun Taoism Temple, XiaoZhou Village, GuangZhou
I was 24 weeks pregnant on the 4th of Jan 2014.
I blew 200 balloons in duration of 3 hours. Audience are encouraged to take away of the red balloons as sign of sharing happiness. The audience were also invited to touch my pregnant belly. Inspired by Chinese custom “ Touch Blessing ”
There was hidden noise sensor, when their hand reaches my belly. They hear mixed sound of temple bell and my son’s heartbeats ( baby heart beats) ! This is a sensitive, peaceful and spiritual ceremony but based on trust.
16 October 2013 – Printmaking graduates from the Royal College of Art will show for a second year at auction house Christie’sMultiplied editions art fair. This year RCA graduates will feature in the main body of the event.
Echo Morgan, Catriona Leahy, Frank Leauver, Nicola Thomas and Marianne Keating are among the Printmaking graduates, who will exhibit work exploring new perspectives and applications of the medium, addressing issues including displacement, materiality, social engagement, dissemination and personal narratives. The portfolio, Transference2013, which included work by most of the graduates will also be on view.
Director of Multiplied, Murray Macaulay, described RCA work as, ‘the tension in print-orientated techniques between ideas of art and reproduction; the hi-tech and traditional; multiplicity and the limited edition and art versus industrial.’
RCA Printmaking 2013 graduates offered fresh approaches to printmaking, expanding the form and function of printmaking, publishing and editioning: Nicola Thomas’ black on black etchings evoked the provocative era of Film Noir, reflecting deeper issues of race and class division. Echo Morgan’s elaborate performances included components of print, video and objects to inform and visualise her potent personal narratives. Marianne Keating’s site-specific projects resulted in numerous responses from communities, taking the form of enlarged text-based print and projected pieces.
Multiplied, now in its fourth year, is an annual fair showcasing the very best contemporary art in editions by leading artists and new talent. This year’s exhibition will feature 42 exhibitors and institutions from around the world. For further details, click here.
Two Editions of Balls of Steel sold from this exhibition, very delighted this piece of work that combined fragility and strength went to good homes!Also sold one framed Be the Inside of the Vase screen print from Transference box set.
During Cultural Revolution red guards cut off Buddha heads from the temple to destroy the tradition, religion and history. My father’s antique passion is collecting jade and Buddha head. Bankrupted and lonely, he brushes his jade days and night. Outdoor flea market, where people are looking for things used, interesting and cheap.
3 Hours Lipsticks, sete traditional water jousting shield and jousting pole, white French girl’s outfit @Sete, Infr’action,14.09.2013 My uncle used to call me the Don Quixote. I was excited to discover the famous sport in Sete: Water Jousting and noticed it’s a game for boys only. I covered my body with red lipsticks to create an image of a very feminine modern water jousting warrior. During the three hours performance I began unexpectedly crying.
Photography by Roland-von-der-Emden,Yau Wen and Kovács István
3 hours, 13 . 09 . 2013 @ Sète, outdoor market
ZeZette (traditional cookie from Sète,France) I ate the first fortune cookie when I arrived in London. It’s a Chinese symbol created by American consumerism but not popular in Mainland China. Shaped like the folded version of local cookie zezettes. I plan to invite audience to think, interact and make me as a Chinese zezettes. I set inside a box cover and decorated like a table. Only head is visible. Covered with note that reference the words people found in Chinese fortune cookies. Baking ingredients for Zezettes are places on the table labelled with different meanings. Audiences are invited to cover my head with:
30 min, Photography by Roland-von-der-Emden, Joachim Axelsson and Yau Wen
Live chicken, tent, soup, knife, and 10 min film projection @Sete, Infr’action12.09.2013
My mum was born at the Chinese year of rooster, she has a scar like the shape of a rooster. She always describes herself as the elegant proud animal. Born in 1957, her childhood was during The Three Years of Great Chinese Famine. In her memory, killing and eating a rooster was a family celebration, a joyful experience that only comes once a year and often shared by the whole street. Invited by me, my mum killed, de-feathered, de-gutted, cooked and finally ate a rooster. Recorded from my mobile phone through Chinese social media, this footage was projected in the background. In contrast I was holding and comforting a live chicken, later audiences were invited to drink chicken soup with me.
Photography by Roland-von-der-Emden, Vincent Campos and Bjorn Veno
2 hours, 11 . 09 . 2013 @ Sète, outdoor market
Be persistent in training! Strengthen our bodies! Study diligently! Serve our motherland!
Radio gymnastic exercise (Guangbo Ticao ????) is part of the school curriculum in most primary (age 6-11) and secondary (age 12-17) schools in China. Every morning at 6:10am. As a communist child I was a monitor since the age of 4. One of my daily duties was lend the morning exercise. In this performance follow the Chinese Radio gymnastic exercise music. I will begin to practice morning exercise, during Two-hour session, I gradually wrap brown tapes around my body until I can’t move.
Performance by Echo Morgan, 17. 09 . 2013 @ Sumarria Lunn Gallery, Live Performance: 1 Hours
waxed huddha head and bodysuit, tight rope, toothbrushes, 10 min film projection on loop @Sumarria Lunn Gallery, 17.09.2013.
At the Closing evening of Tightrope, I performed the final part of my performance: Brushing Jade: Father’s Jade. I wore a waxed Buddha head and bodysuit, my body was covered with green clay and audiences were invited to brush the clay off my body. A film of me brushing jade and my father was projected at the background wall.
Scaffolding, safety net,waxed buddha head, brush, body
@Sumarria Lunn Gallery, 05.09.2013
At the private view of Tightrope, I performed the first part of my performance: Brushing Jade: Jade Buddha I wore a waxed buddha head, stood silently inside a scaffolding structure. My body was covered with green clay, left audience wondering what will happen in the second part of the Brushing Jade performance. Please come and join me on the 17th of September to complete my Brushing Jade performance as a whole.
Entering its ninth year of existence Infr’Action will take place from September 11th to 15th in the public space of Sète and at the city’s own beautiful Musée Paul Valéry. Five days, five performances. It’s all about action.
Follow me on instagram for all my working in progress : )
15 min presentation for my final exam at Royal College of Art
I borrowed the gesture and name of Changing face?? which is an ancient Chinese dramatic art that is part of the Sichuan opera. Performers wear vividly coloured masks, typically depicting well known characters from the opera, which they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head, or wave of the hand.
However, My changing face is a slower act, through the mediums of live spoken words, film projection and showing photographies from previous performances. I invite you to share my performative journey of last two year.
All the fragments act as a mechanical reproduction circle based on my Buddism philosophy of Samsara.
Scaffolding, open frame industrial monitors, films
2meter x 2meter
Royal College of Art Show RCA2013
A Pai Fang ?? is a traditional style of Chinese arch,
a historically popular monument that celebrates important family members and achievements. The most famous are “Virgin Pai Fangs” which memorialise the chastity of wives who never remarried after the death of their husbands.
Family Tree stands a new kind of Pai Fang, a multimedia monumental arch constructed by skeletal scaffolding poles. Eight open-frame industrial monitors hang on the structure on multiple planes, showing films, some sound tracked, some not, whose 3D construction offers the viewer multi-layered experiences of family in imagery, interviews and my own reminiscences. A new memorial.
Takming Chuang, Echo Morgan, Emily Speed and Hanae Utamura: Tightrope Curated by Kate Pantling, Tightrope brings together the work of four international emerging artists Takming Chuang, Echo Morgan, Emily Speed and Hanae Utamura.The artists share a performative approach to their practice, where a sense of harmony, dissonance and a raw energy are connecting threads. Each artist takes their own body as a starting point, orchestrating narratives that explore the impact of encounters with materials, environments and cultures. Their work is personal, particular and often intimate but speaks to broader political and cultural concerns.By approaching their work from the context of performance, the artists bring a strong sense of dramatic tension to their artworks. Each of them embraces the visual impact of their interventions to create work that encapsulates a moment imbued with anticipation. They create projects that play across multiple mediums eluding easy categorisation and bringing dynamism and depth to the expression of their ideas.
Live Performance, 4 hours @Royal College of Art 25.04.2012
Clay, body paint, Chinese tissue paper, willow sculpture, audio
In China, people give a life size Vase as a gift for the opening of a new building, a new business. 25th of April 2012, At the opening of the new Dyson building I transformed my body into a blue and white porcelain vase. My body drifted inside the fresh and empty space, I breath with this new landmark of the Royal College of Art. Story began with my father’s attempt to commit suicide. The performance revealed my uneasy childhood and difficult relationship with my father. I was still and silent whilst my voice revealed the narrative using a pre-recorded audiotape.
Three Cannon Balls (traditional dish from Chengdu, China) My head and two heads are covered by glutinous rice that sculptured as balls, There are three bows of sauce: soybean powder, Chinese red sugar and sesame seeds. Each sauce is labelled by me: soybean powder: Culture Heritage, Chinese red sugar: Communism education, and sesame seeds: Westernization. Audients are invited to dress me with choice of those three sauces.
It matters not the height; if an immortal resides in a mountain it becomes famous.
? ? ? ??? ? ? ??
It matters not the depth; if a dragon lives in a body of water it becomes magical.
? ? ? ??? ? ? ??
This is a crude house; only I appreciate its fragrance.
? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ??
Moss ascends the steps, turning them green,
grass’ color enters the blinds, turning them blue.
? ? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ??
In talk and laughter there are scholars with profound knowledge,
and among those coming andgoing there are no illiterate men.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ??
One can play the lute and read the golden scriptures.
? ? ? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ? ??
There is no string or wind instruments to confuse the ear,
and no desk paper work to strain the body.
? ? ? ? ??? ? ? ? ??
It’s Zhu Ge’s thatched house in Nanyang; it’s Zi Yun’s gazebo in West Shu.
? ? ??? ? ? ??
Confucius says, “What crudeness is there?”
As Minister of Rites at the imperial court, Liu Yu Xi (772 – 842 C.E.) took part in the Yong Zhen Reform, which attempted to limit the power of the palace eunuchs and the provincial governors. When the Reform failed he was demoted to be a mere county administrative officer out in one of the provinces.Upon seeing that he continued to openly espouse the Reform Movement, the county head placed Liu’s living quarters in the crudest little house with only one room, contrary to existing remuneration regulations for his rank, which called for three chambers and three living rooms. Unbowed, Liu wrote this piece and had it inscribed in stone and erected outside the little house.
It was a staged performance, also a short film with personal narrative. I grew up in China until 19 years old, my early communist education and China’s economic boom has deeply embodied in my roots. They still strongly control my thoughts and behaviour. In this performance I used 27 bright red lipstick to cover my body! The red body symbolized my childhood belief and my confusion of losing my cultural identity in the globalized consumer culture. The final dance image in the film is a photographic remake of Matisse’s The Dance. I acted the dancers, behind the red surface my identity and sexuality become mysteries.
The Royal Standard in collaboration with Drawing Paper and Liverpool Biennial present a one-day experimental event exploring the relationship between sound, performance and drawing. It will screening my films:
It is a performance influenced by Greek mythology Echo and Narcissus, western fairytales Little Mermaid and Chinese legend Carp Jumps Over the Dragon Gate.I invited audiences to taping my legs,this performance transforms my body into a sculpture.
Echo Morgan-live performance at Hayward Gallery-workshop
My name is Echo,
I don’t have a voice,
I can only repeat other’s words,
You can give me a voice.
Please tape my legs,
I exchange my legs
for a voice.
Fish Woman in History
Text and images from Mermaids, Witches & Amazons By William Bond
Hendrick Hamel, In 1653 he was a crew member of the Dutch ship, the Sperwer sailing to Asia. Scholars regard this as important as it was the first account of Korean society by a European. Everything he says about Korean society at the time, has been supported by Korean scholars.However one thing he said that caused some controversy. He claimed he saw mermaids on the island of Cheju. It has now has been accepted by scholars, that the mermaids he saw, were simply Haenyo.Haenyo divers are female breath-holding divers who have been foraging on the sea floor for thousands of years for marine food like shellfish, seaweed, sea urchins, sea cucumber, crabs, squid and octopus.Nowadays they wear wet-suits, but before that, they hardly wore anything.They are not the only female breath-holding divers in the area, because in Japan the Ama divers who like the Haenyo divers have also been foraging the sea floor for thousands of years.Nowadays some Ama divers do use wet-suits, but most of them don’t, and instead wear a cotton costume.The reason for this is that the Japanese have banned all modern equipment like scuba gear because they fear they will overfish the waters with modern equipment.For this reason they stick to traditional methods.
So it this the explanation for mermaids?That they are simply breath-holding divers like the Ama and Haenyo of Japan and Korea, once existed in Europe and other parts of the world.If that is true, then why don’t we read about this in our history books?This can be explained by what happened to female breath-holding divers in China and Korea.In China and Korea female divers were called ‘dragon wives’.This is because while they were foraging the sea-floor for food, their husbands stayed at home looking after the house and children.When Confucianism was adopted by the Chinese and Korean governments, the lifestyle of women divers clashed with the Confucian doctrine of the Five Bonds of Filial piety, where wives should be at all times, be submissive to their husbands.It seems that being the breadwinners of the family, made these women too feisty for Confucian sensibilities, resulting in female breath-holding divers being banned throughout China and Korea.They only managed to survive on the remote island of Cheju. Ama Diver with rope around her waist and iron bar The Japanese solution to this problem is for the Ama diver to tie a rope around her waist, and tuck into in a heavy iron bar. This bar serves two purposes. It is used to dig away shellfish that are glued to rocks, and acts as a weight so the diver can sink to the sea floor more quickly. On the sea floor she quickly collects as much marine food as she can find, and puts it in a string bag, then tugs on the rope. Men in the boat above pull her to the surface. This strategy means she is not limited by the weight of her catch in each dive. As far as we know, mermaids in Europe didn’t do this. There are no stories of mermaids jumping off boats with a rope around their waist and then being hauled up by men.In World War Two the island was occupied by the Japanese, who treated the Cheju people so badly that they rose up in protested. But the Japanese brutally suppressed the islanders, and the Haenyo divers suffered, as they played a major role in the protest. Worse was to follow. After the Second World War, the Cheju people objected to the way they were being ruled by the Korean government. The Korean government condemned them as communist sympathisers, and their brutal suppression of the Cheju people was far worse than what was done by the Japanese. Many of the Haenyo divers had to flee the island and moved to Japan. It was after this that the Haenyo divers began to wear wet-suits to avoid drawing attention to themselves.
Chinese Sea Lady
Lady Ch’ingThere is the story of Lady Ch’ing whom Chinese scholars called a female pirate.She led a force of 50,000 sea- people which successfully destroyed the Chinese Imperial Navy fleets sent to destroy them.The Chinese the Imperial government solicited assistance from British and Portuguese warships.This forced Lady Ch’ing, in 1810, to negotiate a settlement with the Chinese government. Most references to these female breadwinners were written out of history, for instance Chinese scholars preferred to call Lady Ch’ing, Cheng I Sao, which means wife of Cheng I, to conceal the fact that female leadership among the sea people, was commonplace.
Lady Ch’ing- female pirate
Witches hunt in middle age
It seems that not only did Confucianism dislike female breath-holding divers but Christianity did as well, probably for the same reasons.Christian wives had to swear to obey their husbands when they married, which caused trouble when mermaids were also the breadwinners of their families. There are stories of priests who, encountering mermaids on the seashore would curse them as devils and threaten them with eternal damnation.It also seems that mermaids were caught up in the witch hunts of the Middle Ages.
During the witch hunts of the middle ages there was the cruel practise of the ducking stool, which was seen as a foolproof way to establish whether a suspect was a witch. The woman was tied to the stool and immersed in water. If the suspect drowned she wasn’t a witch but if she survived the ordeal she must be one. The only way this cruel logic can make any sense is if the accused Witch is also a breath-holding diver. An ordinary woman tied to the end of a ducking stool and forced underwater for about two or three minutes, is very likely to panic and drown. But if she is a breath-holding diver, she is more than capable of calmly holding her breath. It would be a foolproof method of finding out if the woman was a mermaid.
witch hunt in middle age
So why was the Christian Church so vehemently opposed to witches and mermaids? As we’ve previously mentioned, mermaids were breadwinners and assertive women. Christian priests didn’t like this. We can see this in the way the ducking stool was used not only to find witches but to punish women who were ‘scolds’, women who spoke their minds and disagreed with their husbands. These women were not obeying the oath they took when they married, of honouring and obeying their husbands. Another reason why mermaids were disliked, came from the conflict between farmers and mermaids. Today we tend to think of mermaids living in the sea, but if we go back to the old stories of mermaids, we find them also living in lakes, rivers and swamps.Gathering food in water and wetlands is a very ancient way of life, far older than farming, and goes back millions of years to our earliest ancestors. Unfortunately the picture drawn by scientists about our ancestors, is very heavily biased towards men. They talk about hunter/gatherer societies, where men are the hunters and women the gatherers, but as science is dominated by men they are generally only interested in the hunters, and women are hardly mentioned. But field studies on hunter/gatherer societies that survived until the 20th century, show us that the vast majority of food was gathered by women.
Accounts of Sirens don’t all come from the ancient Greeks. Sailors in Europe until the 19th century have warned about the dangers of the siren call, some going as far as claiming that if you see a mermaid, then it’s certain your ship will be destroyed. In spite of these exaggerated stories, there are logical reasons why sailors needed to be warned about the siren call. All breath-holding divers like the Ama and Haenyo divers of Japan and Korea and modern freedivers have to practice regularly to be able to hold their breath for more than three minutes underwater. Opera singers also have similar breathing exercises both to develop powerful lungs and to hold a very long note.Human learned breath control so they could dive to greater depths. Conscious breath control was also an important factor in humans learning how to speak.
People always say that I have balls. I am a tiny Chinese girl, hair doesn’t even grow much on me. But apparently I have balls. Big heavy balls. The empire of china cut off the male servant’s balls so he remains the only man in the Forbidding City; Priest cut off the choir boy’s balls so they have better sweeter voice. My balls are my thoughts, my balls are my emotions, my balls are my baggage of memory, my ball are filled with air, my balls are light as feather… Ball of steel… Come to tingle my rusty bell, I will sing for you, I will tell you a story…
I transformed the surface of my entire body into a Ming vase for an art work called I Am the Four Gentlemen . Through the mediums of performance and film, I explore the intrinsic and complex relationship between violence, beauty, and vulnerability, re-examining how these antipodal constructs impact ideas of the ‘self’ and the body.”
My print I am the Four Gentlemen and film Be the Inside of the Vase was celected in a group exhibition ‘Reincarnation’ at Londonprintstudio , “an exhibition featuring artists who breathe new life into old styles, creatively employing discarded materials, processes and identities in art.”
Performance by Echo Morgan
Photography by Jamie Baker
The performance ‘Be the Inside of the Vase’ was divided into two parts.
The first story began with my father’s attempt to commit suicide. The performance revealed my uneasy childhood and difficult relationship with my father. I was still and silent whilst my voice revealed the narrative using a pre-recorded audiotape. In the second performance the story moved towards my relationship with my mother. Through my rather brutal personal history I addressed sexually political statements such as: from my father: “Women should be like vase, smooth, decorative and empty inside! ” From my mother: “ Don’t be a vase, pretty but empty inside, be the inside, be the quality!” From myself: “This is my voice, my story, my childhood, I am not a vase! .”
Song Dong said to me, “You and your art are now embodied, I can not separated you from your art, let your personal story grow, use your individual voice to tell the larger history. It’s moving and powerful, you are my mirror.”
I met SongDong in 2006 when I was working for Selfridge’s 3D Creative team, that year Selfridges invited two Chinese contemporary artists, SongDong and WangQingSong, to create large installations for a Chinese themed window display.
SongDong is the artist who performed Stamping The Water in1996. For me one of the most direct, poetic and emotional performances that challenged the subject of time, ownership, politics, body and nature.
Waste not in 2012 at theLondonBarbicanCenter and Writing Diary with Water exhibits at the Hayward Gallery made SongDong a very visible figure in the contemporary art world.
Song Dong remains incredibly kind, modest, sincere and encouraging. He is a pure Chinese intellectual and a true gentleman.
What is the mirror? Talking to the mirror in the heart.
Song Dong lead a performance workshop inspired by the question ‘What is the mirror?’ at the Hayward Gallery. I was his student for five days.
Song Dong said “The class not only exists inschool hours it is also wherever and whenever you decide to learn.”
He divided the lesson into three days in the classroom and two days of outside homework.
Day one: Facing
Our instruction was to face a wall for 10 minutes, then face one classmate for 10 minutes. Our homework was to face an object for 10 minutes.
Day two: Homework day
I traveled back to 10 places that i had called home over the last 10 years. I stood outside each door for 10 minutes. I faced the doors for which I no longer have keys, I faced my past, I faced the changes.
Day three: You Are My Mirror
Two people were connected by three single strings: one between their mouths and one between each of their opposite hands. One person was designated to lead slow movements and the other one to follow whilst keeping his or her eyes closed. The goal was to keep each string taut as the movements became more exaggerated.
Day four: Homework day
Follow a stranger on the street, mirror every single movement he or she does for 10 minutes.
Day five: Who is Leader and My Mirror
1. Who is the leader
This is a repeat of the string exercise only now there are four people involved. One person (the follower) is controlled by three people (the leaders) each with their own string.
I was being led, but in reality it transpired that the leaders felt more like the followers.
I sat in front of a ball of black string for five minutes. I then unraveled the string quickly whilst wrapping it around my face. I moved faster and faster as the ball of string became smaller and smaller. My face gradually disappeared as my breathing became more and more erratic form the physical effort. Finally I transformed into the black ball that was originaly in front of me.
The gesture of facing the object and the use of string are my continuation of SongDong’s theme. My mirror is my past, my mirror is my memory, my mirror is the self-tangling, my mirror is the helpless controlling.
This performance was inspired by Nigel Rolfe’s performance The Rope.
My birth name is Xie Rong. A family name from my granny Xie and a given name from my mum; both of whom eventually divorced. I felt, I carried two single mothers on my shoulders. I am Rong ‘?’ the confederate rose, I grew up in tears. In 2000 I began to use the name ‘Echo’ to write articles for newspapers.
Echo Morgan was born in London in 2004. I gave birth to myself, I created this cute, stylish image for me to completely escape from Xie Rong’s life. Life without political suppression and family boundaries, it became light and pretty. But the name “Echo Morgan” was from my marriage which ended in 2011, I am revisiting my roots as Xie Rong.
A land not mine, still forever memorable, the waters of its ocean chill and fresh. Sand on the bottom whiter than chalk, and the air drunk, like wine, late sun lays bare the rosy limbs of the pinetrees. Sunset in the ethereal waves: I can not tell if the day is ending, or the world, or if the secret of secrets is inside me again.