Robert Rauschenberg was a painter, installation artist, musician, dancer, and performer, and together with John Cage and Merce Cunningham produced a large quantity of stage works. Over the course of Rauschenberg in China, UCCA invites students of the CAFA School of Experimental Art to perform accompanied by their tutor Qiu Zhijie—himself an artist and professor at CAFA. Sound artist and CAFA faculty member Zhang Ziqian acts as the director of these performances.
Inspired by the breadth of Rauschenberg's creative output and trip to Jingxian in Anhui province in 1982, students collectively created a multimedia performance titled Somewhere Only We Know adapted from Tao Yuanming’s The Peach Blossom Springs, a work from the Eastern Jin period, which tells the story of a fisherman's chance encounter with an untouched and isolated utopia). This performance involves the scooping and drying process used in the manufacture of Xuan paper, a traditional type of hand-made rice paper. Performers also add printed images, textiles, and flower petals into the paper pulp in reference to Rauschenberg's mixed media pieces. The aural part of the performance originates from the sound created by rubbing and tearing paper during the papermaking process. The performance also alludes to Black Mountain College, specifically to John Cage's Theater Piece No. 1, in which Rauschenberg played a key role. Theater Piece No. 1 has had a far-reaching influence and was considered a key starting point of the New York "Happenings", although it has been difficult to precisely quantify its effects as original footage of the event does not exist. Rauschenberg also enacted a multimedia performance in Beijing's Cultural Palace of Nationalities titled The Duck Pond; however, it was barely discussed within the then milieu surrounding contemporary Chinese art and tends to be forgotten now.
The CAFA students' performance will draw from the themes that characterize Peach Blossom Springs, including oblivion, forgetting, imagination, and isolation. We wonder whether Rauschenberg saw Jingxian and its rice paper industry as the utopic Peach Garden? Was Rauschenberg the fisherman who burst into this isolated place? What happened to the Peach Garden when the fisherman left? What did the fisherman bring to the outside world? Would the fisherman find his way back to the Peach Garden? Was Black Mountain College, hidden within the mountains of North Carolina, the Peach Garden of American avant-garde art? With these questions in mind this performance will also question witnesses of Rauschenberg's 1985 trip to China. This performance is an interrogation of Tao Yuanming’s fisherman who strayed into the Peach Garden.
*Invitation only. (Priority booking reserved for UCCA Members)
Students of CAFA School of Experimental Art
Qiu Zhijie (Artist)
1969 Born in Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, China
1992 Graduated from the Printmaking Department of Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now China Academy of Art, CAA), Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
Professor at the School of Inter-media Art at China Academy of Art and the School of Experimental Art of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. Lives and works in Beijing and Hangzhou, China
Selected Solo Exhibitions:
“Racing Against Time” (Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, 2016); “The Big Project” (Fujian Art Museum, Fuzhou, 2015); “So, we'll go no more a roving” (Café Florian project, Venice, 2015); “Qiu Notes on the Colorful Lantern Scroll Project” (Museum of China Art Academy, Hangzhou, 2015); “The Unicorn and The Dragon” (Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice, 2013); “Blueprints” (Witte De With Contemporary Art Center, Rotterdam, 2012); “Twilight of the Idols” (Haus of World Culture, Berlin, 2009); “Breaking Through The Ice” (Ullens Contemporary Art Center, Beijing, 2009); “A Suicidology of The Nanjing Yangzi River Bridge 1 - Ataraxic of Zhuang Zi” (Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai, 2008).
Zhang Ziqian (Sound Artist)
1976，Born in Liuzhou, Guangxi Pronice. 2005, Graduated from London Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Present, Sound Designer of the National Theatre of China.
7, 8, TAO Dance Theatre, commissioned by Shanghai International Art Festival & London Saddler Well Theatre, 2015; A Very Long Night, National Theatre of China; Hamlet, Su Studio, commissioned by Beijing Fringe Festival, 2014; Green Snake, National Theatre of China & National Theatre of Scotland, commissioned by Hong Kong Art Festival & Shanghai International Art Festival ; Trinity, Jinxing Dance Theatre & ROSAS Dance Theatre Belgium; Eurydice, Zhangnan Studio & She Pan Tu Studio; Babamama, She Pan Tu Studio, commissioned by Wuzhen Theatre Festival, 2013; No Problem Ants, National Theatre of China; Awkward, Jinxing Dance Theatre, 2012; Du Fu, National Theatre of China, 2011; Red Rose & White Rose, National Theatre of China; A Yellow Storm, National Theatre of China; A Doll House, Jinxing Dance Theatre & Norwegian Royal Ballet, 2010; Guan Sheng, Shanghai Peaking Opera House, commissioned by Shanghai World Expo; Husband & Wife, Illness and Death?, Zhejiang Yue Opera Troupe, 2009; Love Letters, Shanghai Dramatic Art Centre; Shanghai Beauty, Jinxing Dance Theatre, commissioned by Berlin Dance Festival, 2008; Made in China, Jinxing Dance Theatre. Under the Skin — the closest and the furthest, Jinxing Dance Theatre, 2007