Body of Work
Body of Work
Interview by Jing Zhang
Published on Aug of 2019 Prestige Magazine+ Read more…
Body of Work
Interview by Jing Zhang
Published on Aug of 2019 Prestige Magazine+ Read more…
In a year of Instagramming dangerously, 52 artists respond to critical issues across the broader Asia region.
The mainstream media keeps us in a constant state of emergency where the word ‘crisis’ is used daily and ‘breaking news’ is a permanent banner across our screens. The real emergencies we should be facing are often disguised behind biased rhetoric or consciously omitted altogether: Climate change! Severe economic inequality! Decay of democracy! Brexit! Trump! The alt-right!
52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS sets out to address the real and daunting trials of everyday life across contemporary Asia. Each of the 52 artists includes a statement about their work, which often reads as a compelling, heartbreaking memoir in miniature, giving deep insights into cultural traditions.
Echo Morgan – cover artist – says this:
I was sent away at the age of four after my parents’ divorce to board at a much-hated, strict communist kindergarten. There I was shaped into a ‘xiao hong hua’, a little red flower, obedient and pliant. This early communist education and China’s economic boom is deeply embodied in my roots. They still strongly control my thoughts and behaviour.
Other highlights include:
– Kyungah Ham’s Korean Mona Lisas
– Deborah Kelly’s crowd-sourced feminist wisdom as print-at-home stickers and posters
– Heman Chong’s list of 198 forms of non-violent action
– Chim Pom’s oversized jigsaw puzzle, Find the C*&R!!!, in response to Japan becoming increasingly strict about nudity even though Asia’s largest red-light district, Kabukicho, is in Shinjuku, Tokyo
– The Mulka Project’s mission to sustain and protect Yolngu cultural knowledge in north-east Arnhem Land under the leadership of community elders.
52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS champions small acts of disobedience undertaken live and online by 52 artists from 31 countries across Asia, addressing important concerns locally and globally.
From historical revisionism in the Philippines to micro-celebrities in Bangladesh, military abuse in Myanmar to rising sea levels in Indonesia, visibility for LGBTQI+ people of colour to contemporary Indigeneity, the artists tackle critical issues with determination, innovation and humour. Each week, the work of a different artist is presented in a unique context, spanning a year of new artistic practice across the region.
Exploring the role of activism and protest throughout, the focus is on art-as-action that has the power to raise awareness and invoke change. With striking images and bold, graphic design, 52 ARTISTS 52 ACTIONS is an encyclopaedia of creative responses to political and social issues facing contemporary Asia.+ Read more…
Leipzig, Germany – May 2019
By Madeline Bocaro ©
Watch the performance video:
Following her intense performance of Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece (as Echo Morgan) at the Peace Is Power exhibition in Leipzig (April 2019), the amazing artist Xie Rong performed another of Ono’s works at the museum’s retrospective of Yoko’s career. Although Yoko’s Painting Until It Becomes Marble is an actual painting rather than a conceptual one, Rong performed a live interpretation of Yoko’s work. Immersing herself in paint and becoming a part of the actual work is an integral aspect of Xie Rong’s art. She applied her own method to Yoko’s static painting, and the result was stunning.
Yoko’s original work is a black and white ink drawing which is an accordion style fold-out. It was first shown during her first solo art exhibition Paintings and Drawings by Yoko Ono, at Fluxus founder George Maciunas’ AG Gallery in New York City. Painting Until It Becomes Marble came with Yoko’s instruction that visitors were to “cut their favorite parts until the whole thing is gone”. It was also shown at MoMA in 2015 as part of Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971.
Xie Rong’s live interpretation of Yoko’s painting was stunning. Yoko’s original painting actually has some ‘movement’ in its accordion folded shape. Rong took it to a new level, breathing new life into the piece. Reverently and ceremoniously, the artist stood quietly in the huge empty space with extremely high floor-to-ceiling windows emitting a background of pure light. Dressed all in white, Xie Rong stood with two bowls at her feet, one filled with Chinese black ink and the other with pure blue pigment powder. The artist combed the ink through her long black hair, saturating it and began to paint on a very large canvas on the floor.
Rong’s barefooted dance began – at first light and graceful like a ballerina, then more intensely, furiously jumping as her drenched hair splattered paint in all directions and on herself. ‘Jack the Dripper’ (Jackson Pollack) has fierce competition! The chaotic calligraphy continued with her head to the floor, making brush strokes. Kneeling with her head down on the canvas, submitting to the work in reverence, she made thicker strokes and swirls. Covered in ink, her white clothing and skin took on the characteristics of the actual artwork.
“An amazing aspect of the performance was the sound! This heavenly space is where they displayed Yoko’s cricket cages. I sang this song and told the story about losing my mother in law two weeks ago. And I invited audiences to rise the painting with me! But the paper dropped and become a cloud!”
Read the full article on:
By Madeline Bocaro ©
Xie Rong performs her new works:
Story of the Stone/ To Reach the Light
(inspired by Yoko Ono)
at Yoko Ono: Peace Is Power exhibition @mdbkleipzig in Leipzig Germany
May 11, 2019.
Watch the performance videos:
Story of the Stone
This work by Xie Rong is inspired by three of Yoko Ono’s works; Three Mounds, Riverbed and Rising (lyrics).
Xie Rong: “I wish to create a piece to bring illumination and sound into the darkness. To connect all the rooms into the main hall, create movement of audiences. From 9:30 Andreas played music create tension and atmosphere. 10pm, Me, in a mirror suit, walking into the main hall. I stood inside a rope light, silent, I will sing “Olive Tree” then I walk off to collect all the ropes, I shout out to each floor and balcony, drag ropes between people. Creating spider web collection between the three museum floors and four exhibition rooms.” … …+ Read more…
April 9, 2019
@ Yoko Ono: Peace Is Power exhibition 2019
Museum der bildenden Künste Leipzig
By Madeline Bocaro ©
I had a wonderful chat with artist Echo Morgan about her performance. Yoko requested that Cut Piece be performed at the opening of her Peace Is Power exhibition in Leipzig. Over time this masterpiece – performed many times by Yoko and by other artists – has become legendary. Echo Morgan was approached by the museum to be the performer, as they were interested in bringing her own art to the museum at a later date.
Photo: Alexander Schmidt
“I made a promise to myself not to participate in other artist’s work; not to react someone else’s performance…When Alfred Weidinger, the director of the Museum of Fine arts Leipzig approached me with the idea of performing Yokos Cut Piece. I fall into deep thoughts.
Cut Piece was first performed by Yoko Ono on July 20, 1964 at Yamaichi Hall, Kyoto, Japan. The artist entered the stage in her best dress, sat in a traditional sitting position, and invited the audience to cut pieces of her clothing with scissors and take the piece with them.
I met Yoko in 2009 at a design boutique in Notting-hill gate, Feathers, where I have worked throughout my study years in London. I helped her chose few outfits: jackets and shirts and 5 hats. While packing the clothes, I said to her: My husband gave me a piece of broken vase in 2003, he said it was from your live performance in Tate Modern and you invited the audiences to put the vase back together in 2013, we got married in 2004 and we have been cherish that piece of vase and really look forward to rebuilding it with her. Yoko smiled and asked me for pen and paper. She wrote down: Dear Luke and Echo, I give you a sun. Love, Yoko Ono. She even drew a smiley sun.
2011, I separated with Luke, went to the Royal College of Art and became a performance artist. Same year, I did a performance: I Buried My Loss, together with many sentimental letters and photos I left the note from Yoko and her piece of vase behind. The only thing I kept was his surname: Morgan.
As a pioneer in conceptual and performance art, Yoko’s work has moved and influenced many people. Including myself! I do feel deeply honoured to be approached to perform her Cut Piece at the opening of YOKO ONO PEACE IS POWER at MdbKLepizig. So, for one time only I will break my own promise, this is my tribute and love for Yoko’s art and life I do believe it is a fate that I have to take this offer. There for, I would like to take this opportunity and mark this performance as my last performance under the name Echo Morgan.
There was some controversy over having an established young artist in her own rite (who happened to be Asian) perform the piece, as some thought that her resemblance to Yoko would make her seem like an imitator. However, after the curators met with Echo (a Chinese artist based in London) they realized her deep understanding and determination to do this work, and agreed that she was perfect for the piece.
Cut Piece (Yoko Ono, Grapefruit 1964)
Performer sits on stage with a pair of scissors placed in front of her and asks the audience to come up on the stage, one by one, and cut a portion of her clothing (anywhere they like) and take it. The performer, however, does not have to be a woman.
Echo told me that her experience was surreal. She was haunted by the large size of the room (1,000 seats which were all filled, as was the standing room) and a live stream to 9,000 visitors in the gallery.
The circumstances (beyond Echo’s control) were more like a grand theatrical staging. Echo did not realize that the museum had the event programmed as a 90-minute performance, as the director and the mayor were to give speeches at the end. She was now on a schedule that she could not control and was worried when some aggressive participants cut large chunks of her clothing early on, speeding the piece along too quickly.
Echo ceremoniously approached the stage, sitting side-legged in the same way that Yoko had done, remaining motionless. She made the announcement, “Take the scissors. Cut a small piece of my clothes, One at a time. Take it with you. It is a gift.” She added, “My body is the scar of my mind.” paraphrasing Yoko’s song “O’Wind” from the album Fly (1971).
Although this stipulation was not in the original instruction, Yoko had always worn her best clothing for each performance – usually sacrificing a black dress from the London shop Biba. Echo wore formal designer attire; a white Dolce & Gabbana shirt, a black Prada skirt, a black Armani jacket and Chanel shoes.
Echo told me that she added the detail of black tights and high heels as a feminist statement (Charlotte Moorman had worn a ball gown during her several performances of Cut Piece). The artist’s shoes were removed by two participants, each of whom took one shoe and promised to bring them back again in 100 years (a reference to Yoko’s Promise Piece, which had originally inspired Echo’s performance).
Echo was completely absorbed in the moment, enjoying the sound of the cutting and of people’s footsteps echoing from the floorboards in the large hall. She was startled when man cut her bra and waved it around triumphantly, provoking opposing reactions – cheers and gasps of anger – from the large crowd viewing the live stream. But she knew that she was relatively safe amongst so many viewers. Other cutters were more hesitant, and most were less aggressive than she expected.
The cutters were also greatly affected. Most women were stunned by the performance and participated in a motherly, protective manner. When Echo’s bra was removed, two women wrapped the artist’s naked torso in two scarves – swaddling her like a baby. The director signaled that this would be a beautiful note on which to end the performance, but Echo decided to remove the scarf and continue. When all of the artist’s clothing was finally cut away, a woman made a grand gesture by cutting off a large piece of her own skirt, placing it across Echo’s lap, clasping her hands and bowing down to the artist as though she were a deity (the essence of Yoko’s intent of Cut Piece – the selflessness of Buddha*).
*Read my story about Yoko’s Cut Piece:
A most touching detail devised by Echo was at the end of the performance. When completely naked, she picked up the scissors and cut a piece of her own hair and left it on the stage before standing up and walking away. “It is a gesture of returning her a promise that I lost.”The intent was “To leave a part of me, after nothing was left of me, – my DNA – for her in return for that piece of vase that I had lost.” (Promise Piece). The artist asked Yoko’s long-time curator Jon Hendricks for permission to do this, which he gave wholeheartedly, knowing that Yoko would appreciate this addition. But of course, this ‘edit’ provoked a big reaction amongst the German art crowd. However, it was a poignant gesture that Yoko would certainly love – with its subtle reference to Hair Peace (1969).
Concerned museum patrons approached Echo the following day, asking if she was OK. This was her final performance as Echo Morgan. She will use her name Xie Rong from this point forward.
Watch Cut Piece online:
Echo Morgan is the English name of Xie Rong, a Chengdu-born, London-based, multi-disciplinary artist whose work is underpinned by a dark family story. She works with stereotypes of ‘Chineseness’ and femininity in order to subvert them. Morgan has written texts on her skin using red lipstick, black Chinese ink, white ‘ink’ made from jasmine tea, and her own breast milk after giving birth to her second child. She has played with tropes of Chinoiserie, painting her naked body to resemble blue and white porcelain, and then inviting the audience to violently wash the patterns away by hurling water-filled balloons at her. Her work mines her own experiences of childhood, family, marriage and motherhood – and those of her female ancestors. She is a story-teller.
Juxtaposing English narration with Chinese traditional songs, Morgan plays with her complex hybrid identity and her difficult childhood. She explores the territory of translation: between two languages, between gesture and stillness, between her Chinese past and English present, between performance and image.+ Read more…
Galerie Huitis currently exhibiting the debut solo show in Hong Kong of the Chinese multi-disciplinary artistÂ Xie Rong, otherwise known asÂ Echo Morgan. Rong was born in the southwest province of ChengDu, China in 1983 and has lived and worked in London since the age of nineteen. Within her work, Rong oscillates between the role ofÂ performer, filmmaker, director and artistic narrator, operating across the intersection of a variety of mediums including painting,Â performance, film, prints, publications, short stories andÂ audio works. The current exhibition, entitledÂ å®¶Home, consists of an extension of the core thematic and aesthetic preoccupations Rong has explored in her previous work, predominantly the use of her personal prismatic and textured family experience as a reflection ofÂ the political, ideological and philosophical complexities and transformations of Chinese society…
The second dominating project within the exhibition is Rong’s sequel to I am a Brush, from which the exhibition takes it’s name – Home. The piece is comprised of an original performance, a video work and the parchment retaining the traces of Rong’s performative presence. Homeis reminiscent of Rong’s previous performance pieces including Be the Inside of the Vase (2012) and Little Red Flower (2012). The correlation can be seen within two avenues. Firstly the use of the narration of her own troubled childhood and relationship with her parents (particularly her father) and by extension the society within which she was raised. Secondly, the process of transforming her body into symbols, be it the Chinese national flag, blue and white porcelain, Chinese landscape painting or in the case of Home a more monochromatic reflection of the contradictions between her cultural identity. In this sense, in Home, Rong projects a more overt reflection of her cultural juxtapositions and her attempts to reconcile her socialized political and gender conforming upbringing with her intellectual and political confliction through her international exposure. However, arguably this is a somewhat superficial reading as, in my opinion, „Home“ projects a broader reflection of the female working class experience of both east and west. In this respect, despite in the obvious cultural nuances, which are not to be diminished of critical importance, in actual fact the core narrative characteristics and anecdotes are largely a global tale of subjugation and a struggle for the psychologically, physically and financially oppressed to overcome.
Ultimately, Rong’s debut Hong Kong exhibition depicts a strong foundational voice and aesthetic. Although there are notable influences from prior body art practice and both Eastern and Western cultural and artistic iconography – a large degree of indebtedness to Yoko Ono, Yves Klein and Carolee Schneemann, for example – Rong’s appropriation and assimilation of both cultural narratives is what makes her work particularly interesting from a critical perspective but also as an illustration of the interconnected and mutating cultural psyche’s of an internationalist ‘millennial’ practitioner….
+ Read more…
Xie Rong x Echo Morgan – After her divorce in the UK, a petite Sichuan girl started her five-years performance art journey.
Art China · Meng Yuan | 2016-11-03 17:20
The first “Beijing·Live” International Performance Art Festival was held from October 15th to 23rd, 2016. More than 30 performance artists from 13 countries presented performance art works at the Danish Cultural Center. Echo Morgan performed her new work, My Father and My Son. The Art China reporter interviewed the artist Xie Rong and had a new understanding of her behavior.
1. You were a designer at the beginning. What is the opportunity for you to switch to behavioral art creation?
Yes, I was in college at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. I belonged to the University of the Arts in London. When I was in school, I found that the boundaries between design and art were very vague. The graduation thesis at the time was influenced by Hélène Cixous’s theory of “negative writing”. In the book “Medusa’s Laughter,” she wrote: “Women must write about herself: must write a woman and bring a woman to writing… a woman must put herself in the text – bring her story back In the world and in history – through her own actions.”
My graduation thesis is “The Symbol of Negative Writing and Identity”, and I wrote an autobiography “Xie Rong and the Thirsty Devil”. In the autobiography, I combed my family history into the “three steps”: the root of the school, the school of death and the school of dreams. This is a turning point in my spirit and a turning point in art.
Xie Rong’s paper self-made book
I am a very emotional person. From small to large, I can feel the impact on my body and emotions around me. I like performance and like to speak, but I didn’t find a suitable channel to send it out. Body writing made me open my voice. I realized that my voice and my story are powerful. I used to think that this is just my personal experience. I think art is not personal but public. Everyone can feel and Experience, so I feel too personal to become very narrow. But after reading the book of Xisu, I found that it was not. When I put my body in the big age, I suddenly had power. I found the art of performance art and the sheep to express myself.
Xie Rong’s paper self-made book
2. What is the first performance art work?
In fact, this starts from the fact that I stopped writing for two years. When I was 21, I married an Irishman. After seven years, I separated. Later, I met my father to commit suicide. The two worlds collapsed at the same time, causing me to collapse. I have not created any works for two years. From 2011 I entered the Royal College of Art and followed Nigel Rolfe to study performance art.
“Send Book” was created in 2011 by artists during performances
“Book” was created in 2011. The artist is barefoot and uses ink to wash his hair.
My first performance art work was “Send a Book,” which was created in 2011. I was studying printmaking and learned that the world’s first prints were made with women’s hair instead of silk. So I went back to the woman’s body and painted it with ink on her hair. The painting was very abstract and it was an understanding of my own hair. I spent five hours creating an eleven-meter abstract scroll that represents my eleven years with my ex-husband. After bathing, the water washed the paint off the hair, and the ink was painted all over the body. At that moment, I felt that I was born again. Many of my works draw on the works of predecessors and need to think about how to turn them into their own artistic language. I feel that my cultural background is very important.
Xie Rong is painting with his hair
“Send Book” was created in 2011. The artist paints on a long roll of eleven meters.
3. This time, “My Father and My Son,” I used an object like a ball, which seems to appear in your previous work.
The object was woven from bamboo strips and covered with more than 80 sheets of rice paper. The shape is not very precise. It is made up of two parts, like a lantern, uterus, breast, testicles, planet, silkworm cocoons, eggs, nests, and so on. It also appeared in my four-hour behavioral work, Be the Inside of the Vase, in 2012. The image at the time was more precise and it was a vase.
Bamboo and rice paper woven objects
Objects appearing in “My Father and My Son”
At that time, the museum did not allow me to ignite the vase. I stood in the whole body with Meilan Zhuju, and asked the audience to throw a water polo to break the vase. The story of my father and me has puzzled me for so many years, and I hope to break it. The audience broke the lantern with 150 water polo. The water polo lost its light in 5 minutes and washed off the blue and white porcelain patterns and pigments on my body.
Xie Rong painted part of the bamboo on his body
Xie Rong’s 2012 performance art work “Being the Inner of the Vase”, which also appeared similar objects
One of the water polo players was very hard when they lost it. It hit my eyes and it hurts. The dark circles are like pandas for two weeks. This is a kind of violence. It is a retrospective of the cold violence I felt when I was a child. My mother has a face to face. I am not allowed to talk about their divorce. It is a mental imprisonment for me. At the time, an editor wrote a commentary and said that it was very repugnant to this kind of violence, and he did not know how to become a party to violence. She feels that the artist appears in a fragile and weak image, using his own vulnerability to make the audience become weaker, and the artist controls the mood of the audience.
The audience threw the water polo to the artist, the water polo broke the rice paper, and washed off the paint on the artist.
4. You just mentioned that there is a water polo that hits your eyes. Does it mean that there are many sudden and random factors in the performance of performance art?
Yes, there was an unexpected situation in the performance art performance of “My Father and My Son”. After my father died, I really wanted to burn the lanterns that were not allowed to be lit before. Originally, the fire was very beautiful when I was experimenting the previous day. The ashes floated up and slowly fell. At that time, it should be the end of my performance art. On the second day of the official performance, I found that the paste completely prevented me from burning the lantern. I used to use the pvc adhesive that was very flammable in the UK.
After the flames are gathered, leave scars and holes
Everyone saw it at the time. Some people gave me a lighter. Many people who had heard my thoughts wondered how I would continue to the next step, and most of the audience didn’t know that this momentum was not my original idea. I found that I liked this kind of burning way. The flame burned up, and soon the flames went out again. It was both arrogant and subtle. Curator JonasStampe said that this is the sorrow of people. You want him to drift with the wind in a big fire, but it is always lingering. This is the most real emotion and life of man.
Later, when I was communicating with a Swedish artist, he felt that the most striking thing about performance art was that while the audience was thinking, the artist was thinking about the direction of performance. This is also the place where performance art is different from step-by-step stage play. It is a real situation on the scene, rather than step by step according to the script. When I wanted to burn this lantern and burned it, during this time, everyone had a lot of ideas and removed all the factors of the stage and performance.
5. You said that you have n’t thought about how to explain this work with your mother after returning to the UK. Is it afraid that the mother can’t accept the nude or do you say a lot of personal family scars in the work?
I think that for performance artists, the body is no longer naked, but a carrier of art. In fact, this is more about my mother’s face. My mother is a soldier. My father is a little punk. It is a waver in the rivers and lakes. She wants to use her love to save a fallen soul. At that time, the mother’s family did not agree with them. After quarreling with the family, the mother rushed out of the house and suffered a car accident causing the uterus to shift, leaving a scar on the lower back. In “Inner of the Vase”, I set up a canal with a water polo. The shape is a map of China. It has nothing to do with politics. It is the shape of the scar on my mother’s lower back.
The canal of Chinese land graphics is the scar of the mother
After the performance art performance
The behavior I did at the time was not only showing my own pain, but also showing my mother’s pain. When I told my mother about this behavior, she was very angry and said, “I have been divorced for 30 years, and even my best friend has not told me. I don’t want others to see my jokes because the Chinese believe that the ugliness cannot be promoted. You made a work, the whole world knows about me and your father, and the whole world knows your growth experience.”
But I think it’s actually like being happy to write in the novel “Good Women in China”. “The custom of China is to face, but the face is also part of your body. It hurts your own heart and hurts your face. “”
6. You used a very calm tone to tell the story in “My Father and My Son”. What does the power of language and narrative mean for your performance art?
My mentor, Nigel Rolfe, and I said that when you are most powerful, when you are silent, you need to learn to control your own voice. When doing the act, I am now reminding myself to come. The professor also told me to remove the personal feelings, because the story is already very personal, there is no need to go to lyrics, and the lyrics will look very artificial. Speaking very peacefully, then it is a story, emotions are something that others have to experience, not what you emphasize.
7. Why do you insist on doing performance art?
Let me take a picture of my film based on my work in 2013. At that time, I talked about my father’s experience. His life represented the experience of people of that era going to sea to do business. He accumulated a lot of wealth, but he died in a car accident and killed many innocent people. Then he was sentenced to jail and imprisoned, and his family was ruined to redeem his freedom. After he was released from prison, his life was declining. His life represents a lot of tragic people. I received letters from audiences around the world, and I told them the tragic story of their personal privacy. I have found a medium that allows me to express myself and put my personal stories in the big age and resonate with people.
It is very fortunate to be a performance artist. You can use your work to record your own changes and record your life. When I performed the performance of “The Inner of the Vase”, I had a very young body. At that time, I was talking about the relationship between my daughter and my father. The image is in line with the image of a very small girl. This time, “My Father and My Son,” I am already a mother who has given birth to a child. My image is a daughter and a mother. I think that when I am old, I have to do a corresponding behavioral work. It is wrinkles all over the body, and the feeling of a ceramic to the last time after the time splits.
When I was doing performance art in Berlin, I met Linda Mary Montano, who did the same thing every three years. At the age of 75, lying on the street in Gothenburg, a very faint “squeaky” sound every second. On behalf of the heartbeat, for an entire hour, the last woman yelled at her with a horn, “Linda, got up, and died after sleeping.” She also recorded herself every day: “I am dying, I am going to die, I am Every day is dying.” She said that she would do the day she eventually died.
Adherence to performance art is not just a matter of emotional and ideological needs. Performance art is very inclusive, and all the techniques I have studied before can be placed in performance art. Performance art is not that you see a picture on the wall. I am this piece of art. I live in front of you and can re-emphasize the purest and most essential relationship between people. Nigel Rolfe once said: “Being a performance art is a responsibility. We live in a turbulent society, and war still exists. If we can use our individual voices and behaviors to infect a small group of people, we express our concern for society. The sense of responsibility, then the performance art is meaningful.”
“Touching the blessing”
When Xie Rong was pregnant for six months, she invited the audience to touch her pregnant belly. Life is shared and feelings are shared.