戴 陈 连
翠 竹 | 访 谈
D: 十二年前我第一次到的翠竹，记得是坐火车，先从杭州坐到广州，然后从广州去深圳，广州到深圳这一段路程坐的是在当时看起来很时尚的动车，那时候其他城市都还没有动车，除了沿途不断飞过的亚热带植物，车上人的面部骨骼也是非常地域特征的，让我第一次感受到了南方的气息。整个人都是湿漉漉的，有点像第一次恋爱的感觉，激动，陌生，不知道未来。 去深圳当时是因为谈了个女友，她就住在翠竹一带，那时候模糊记得有些高高的小区住宅楼，阳光都很好。树木高大挺拔，枝繁叶茂得有点夸张，像日本A片中的男女主角欲望十足，表演性极强。然后我还带了自己的油画一路拎着拿过去，那时快递公司没有那么发达，只有中国邮政，我怕他们弄坏了画，才想着自己拿过去。 大部分时间我就在翠竹的超市买菜买日用品，然后在茶餐厅吃下午茶。经常坐车去某一个地方，看到很低的云，有时感觉都在树梢上一样，这是我印象最深的，好像就是在等待一片云。
W: 你这次的创作过程是怎样的？ 你这次的创作方法是怎样的？
从3.19 – 3.28 这个时间段，观众每天下午1点在我住的宾馆大厅集合，然后我带着他们一起去事先设计好的地点去寻找翠竹，我们有时坐地铁有时打车有时走路，我们彼此交谈各自对于深圳的理解，谈我们的生活也谈我们的情感。有时会用整个下午的时间带观众去翠竹大厦那边静静等待一片云，到了目的地之后朋友们就聊天，聊他们最近发生的事也说彼此的工作，渴了就买点水和饮料，站累了就席地而坐，一会又看看路边的风景，像一次有目的但不知道结果的春游，这个状态大约有两小时，本来满天白云的天空阴沉下来，太阳躲进了云层瞬时变成阴天，这时有朋友说云来了，当时我什么也没说带他们又走向回去的路。某一天又和观众一起去以前住过的小区，凭着十分模糊的记忆去随便走走，看到想起来的记忆中的事我就和他们说一说，很多时候记忆也是相互编织，自己也是凭借对建筑物的提示慢慢地回忆，有时看到一个场景一个物件感觉似曾相识，但想不起来曾经在那个地点说过的话，像电影里的慢镜头，缓缓的但都没有语言。过了几天就找到了翠竹，接下去的那些天都是围绕着她要开米粉店而做的工作，买材料，布置店铺，修饰店铺里的摆件等等直到开张，翠竹小说中有一段是舞狮的场景，原来找了一个城中村的大排档门口来实施，象征意义上的给翠竹。后来随着情况的变化而变化，觉得这个舞狮表演用在米粉店的开张是最合适了，开张完翠竹项目也就暂时结束了一个段落。
W：How was it like when you first came to Cui Zhu?
D : 12 years ago, I came to Cui Zhu for the first time. I remember I took a train from Hangzhou to Guangzhou first, then leave Guangzhou for Shenzhen by a bullet train, which was fashionable and not available in other cities back then. Subtropical plants blurring by out the window and faces with regional characteristics in the train gave me the true flavour of the south for the first time. The air made me moist all over, and the excitement, alien environment, together with the unknown future, brought me a feeling of first love.
I went to Shenzhen because I had a girlfriend then who lived in the neighborhood of Cui Zhu. In my vague impression there were high residential buildings, bright sunshine, and upright tall trees with wild and unkempt branches and leaves, which were just like actors and actresses in Japanese porn, being filling with desire and performance. I took my oil paintings there all the way in case they were damaged by others. At that time, with China Post the only option, express delivery was not as developed as it is today.
I used to go for groceries and necessities in Cui Zhu's supermarket, and go to a tea restaurant in the afternoon for some tea. Usually, I went somewhere by car, and low clouds might came into my eyes, which were sometimes too low to be like on the treetops. It seemed that I was waiting for a cloud. This is my most impressive memory.
W : How does Cui Zhu the community influence you, both visibly and imperceptibly? And why does it so impressive and unforgettable to you?
D : I had lived in the neighborhood of Cui Zhu for some time before, around where is the scope of my actions. I went out for either Cui Zhu or Huaqiang North back then. Among the many restaurants in Cui Zhu, I always eat at the same ones that I fancy back and forth. Sometimes I stayed longer at leisure and sit there thinking about upcoming work. Even now I can remember how strong the wind was on one day, and with what kind of posture a women on the street corner disappeared from my sight. It’s always details that connect fragments in our life into memories, and of course, there is love in the details.
W : How do you think of love?
D : Love is a quietly flowing clear stream that has been around you before you notice it; love is a mixture of oil painting, acrylics, water and mud; love is a journey that you never know the road ahead; love makes you rush like a leopard even if you know it’s likely to get hurt and bleed. Love, what a wonderful word!
W : Some artists need emotional stimulation to create. Does it happen to you?
D : Actually, I need it too. Some emotional stimulation are from my personal experience, some from the description of friends and strangers, and some, which stimulates me a lot as well, are experiences from reading novels and poems. I'm a keen observer of some subtle things, and observation is the starting point to the state of high spirit.
W : How do cities (environment, space, urban lifestyle) influence your artistic creation? Can you create if you don’t live in a city?
D : I used to live with my grandma in the countryside for sometime in my childhood. I remember, back then, there were large fields and wasteland and low houses with black tiles and white walls. The land and the sky were so large that seemed it was impossible to go from this side to the other within a day. So I often had fun in one place today and went to another the other day to help my grandma to carry her drinking. She was hoeing and transplanting rice seedlings in the field. I would serve them some tea with white porcelain bowls with blue edge if they were thirsty. The space gets smaller and the time runs slower when it comes to this moment. Perhaps it’s because that it was a specific plot in memory. That is, degree of concentration determines our feelings on the environment. In fact, the so-called countryside was a “city” in my recognition at young age, because there was only one kind of place in my mind. The countryside was the very place from where I had got some basic awareness about environment and space. I had lived there until it was time for primary school. Living in city on school days and returning back to countryside on holidays, then I travelled back and forth between the two. Such experience caused my interests in specific geographical locations, which gave me a better understanding on urban spaces and the comparison on lifestyles. The change of geographical position in the process of creation do impact on me, however, people has always been the major concern, so it is people related or connected with geographical location matters. The relationship between people and the local environment has my major attention, and careful observing and sincere experiencing are the channel leading into such relationships, which is also a constant stimulation for me. Therefore, I can follow my interests and to understand and research them further no matter they are rural areas or cities.
W : What have you learned from art academy?
D : When it comes to art academy, what really matters was exactly the people I met. I got my enlightenment on contemporary art from those friends. I had flipped through some pages when I found any interesting information at their homes, and I had heard some artistic works from them and communicated with them. I was used to read and use the internet for information, by the way, it was a time that mass information are available without vpn. It was such accumulation that awoke me to my true passion and let me know how to start a work and how to tell the merits and faults of a work, etc.. My friends encouraged and supported me so much. Then I began to make works and develop theatre festival and later to curate, all of which were inseparable from the teachers and friends who helped and inspired me in the China Academy of Fine Arts.
W : What kind of life experience was it like that you met Ms. Cui Zhu in Shenzhen this time?
D : I had no idea of what heart-stirring and breath-taking means until I saw her. Time seemed to be frozen at the moment we met. My body had a strong reaction but my mouth couldn’t say a word. It was basically a visceral performance with complicated emotions. Four days before the Biennial’s closure, in no attempt, I went to the original site and found out that the shop in Cui Zhu was still there. I had thought it would have been relocated for many years. I dared not and was embarrassed to look directly into the shop at first and just walked over in the hallway, still hiding my face with hands. After the feeling of intensity, I asked my friend to go into the shop and see. Then he told me that there was only one clerk, and Cui Zhu (pseudonym) was not there. So I moved slowly and walked in. When I was stepping toward the door, it was like tons of durian descending on me immediately. Because the picture I painted for her was hanging right opposite the entrance, which was about the shop’s trademark. I painted it with oil materials and it was basically as colorful as it was new. This scene dazed me and my head was like being circling around by ten thousand flies. The next minute thousands of durian were being thrown to me like bombs, leaving me no time to react. Later, I learned that the shop would be relocated at the end of the month. Maybe this is what destiny is. I told her that the purpose of this trip was the Shenzhen Theatre Biennial when I saw her, and I made a work for her and showed what I write for her. But I couldn't speak out my apology, all I did was to apologize by actions. She got a lot of business and work to deal with every day, but she was very tolerant in this case. She just asked lightly that why did I appear mysteriously and suddenly came to her. I was still very happy inside. I tried to do things for her if I can help, and we were just like old friends with years of absence. I feel that I’m so lucky anyway.
W : How’s the process of your creation like this time? And your creating method?
D : I started Cui Zhu novels before I went to Shenzhen, at the same time I began to record and edit pictures and texts in Wechat platform, all of which started with "Cui Zhu notes" as the beginning. What I posted on Wechat were some fragmented feelings and recording and association of ideas on the scenes, as well as pictures and words about memory. A total of 37 Cui Zhu notes have been posted.
During March 19th to 28th, the audience would gather in the lobby of the hotel that I live in at 1 pm every day, then I brought them to the preset destination for Cui Zhu. We went there by subway or taxi or sometimes on foot, talking about each other’s understanding of Shenzhen the city, as well as our lives and feelings. Sometimes I brought them to Cui Zhu Building waiting for a cloud for a whole afternoon.
After arriving at the destination, they would talk about what’s going on recently and maybe their work, and buy some drinks when thirsty and sit on the ground when tired, and maybe just look around the roadside for a while, which was like a spring outing with a purpose and an unknown outcome. This state might last 2 hours. The white clouds-filled sky turned gloomy instantly, because the sun hid itself into the clouds. Someone said there would be more clouds so I took them back without a second thought. Another day, I went to a neighborhood with my audience where I had once lived in and walk around following the faint memories and shared with them what I can recall. You know, sometimes memories are interwoven, I recalled things bit by bit with the help of the hints that buildings brought to me. Sometimes I had deja vu when I was in a certain circumstance or see an object, but I could hardly remember what I had said at that very place, which was like wordless slow motions in films. A few days later, we found Cui Zhu, then we helped her preparing for the rice noodle shop in the next few days, like buying materials, decorating the shop, locating the ornaments etc. before its opening. I symbolically set a lion dance scene in Cui Zhu novel, which took place in front of a sidewalk snack restaurant in an “urban village”. Later, as things change, I thought that the lion dance was the best match for the opening of the rice noodle shop. Finally, with the shop’s opening, my Cui Zhu project was brought into a temporary close.
As to the method for the work this time, I just let things develop step by step according to preset scenes, namely, from a memory to a certain time, from a certain time to a real action. The intertexture of the making of events and real performances activates the overlap between different time and makes them dispersed, juxtaposed and interlaced. Such a setting changes the way of watching, because it blurred the boundary of audience and I. We are each other’s background, being able to switch channels to either sides. Usually, it seems that we almost coexist at the same time.
I turned some passages from Cui Zhu novel into theatrical performances, just like turning realistic life in a reportage into a novel, letting the two styles interact with each other. Sounds and words meet in one space and separate in another, get rebirth at one time and despair at another. They compile and delete for each other, and after saving they may do more things like modifying, inserting, quoting, and cutting, during which things might be led to another direction due to the change of a certain factor.
There is no end for this. Maybe you will open the file again because of an new idea, then all things restarts, then restarts over and over again. This is the "file theater" which I’ve been experimenting. The process of writing has already completed a part of the performance rather than just a performance plan.
W : What are the connections and differences between the Cui Zhu Project and your previous art projects?
D : The Cui Zhu project focuses on the relationship between region and people. I consulted some information and asked myself a lot of questions before making a plan, then got inspired. Arising from my unforgettable affections or empathetic feelings, this coincided exactly with the origin of my previous series creations. The framework of performance establish when I got the feeling wanting vomit just like after drinking too much liquor. The final presentation shows the way it is in that ripples deep within told you to do so. It is the unique working method and the way of watching made this project so different from previous ones. Actually it’s fair to say that this is a performance of text editing which can be archived on a bookshelf ordinarily. The file theater is my long-term project.
W : What is your attitude towards life?
D : I’d like to use theatrical performance to record ordinary people and experience the happiness and sadness of each single life. At my age, some friends’ sudden death taught me what accident is. I don't know when will my life cease, but I’ll try to do things that I’m interested in as much as possible and force myself to finish some tasks that seem impossible. Moreover, It’s better to stay with our parents more often and bring happiness to our friends.
W : Is art important to you?
D : Art doesn’t mean self-consolation to me, instead, It has been my weapon since many years ago. In junior high school, I wished to be a writer to fight with my pen, just like a soldier fight with a gun. Having been experienced painful first love, a failed marriage, and sneers from friends and teachers, I realize, gradually, that the only thing remains unchanged is the original emotion. I can't describe art with words like “love”. Because in many cases, art gave me a lot of gifts, brought me kind and enthusiastic friends, accompanied me going through hard times, and enabled me traveling all over the world and helped me overcoming the sense of inferiority in the crowd. These are what art has brought to me, which has become a part of my life.
W : How do you think of the cultural and artistic atmosphere in Shenzhen?
D : The overriding feeling is that there are many places for clubbing, where young people enjoy. And of course they have very relaxing and pleasant atmosphere, and they were flourishing.
W : Please talk about your understanding, thoughts, and confusion about performance.
D : I think performing is more than a medium, and my goal of work is not defined to only expanding the territory of performance, subconsciously, I have my social ideals. After watching various performances, I was wandering that why don’t people do any performance about our own life? Why isn't there a performance concerning me? I’ll do it by myself then, and I’ll just start it from my own default and self-abasement.
Sometimes contemporary art was too dull for me, so I started to perform for amusing myself. Performances are like wars and you know there would be blood, sacrifice and casualties, but you’ll still heading on it. There are a lot of things unknown, and you need to find and capture those fleeting things. And find what? It’s not about how brilliant the lighting is or how complicated the movement trail is, instead, it’s about a sense of life. Storytelling is not my interest, neither pure form research. What I am interested in is to make the feelings inside my body dashing out by the form of performance. I’ve been increasingly aware that a good performance does not lie in if it tells a truth, but in how deep emotion it has. I’ve learned from such a long time that there are not only move actions in performing, rather, I prefer silence and standstill and facing up to the reality. Even though there are numerous sufferings and unbearable filthy things inside ourselves, I don’t want our sadness in life be treated randomly by a piece of music or mere imagination.