You Are My Mirror
July 1st, 2012
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 in 1996. 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 the London Barbican Center 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 in school 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
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.