A piece of red fabric
The title ‘A Piece Of Red Fabric’ comes from a song by first generation Chinese rock star Cui Jian (崔健) in 1980s, where he sang the song with a piece of red fabric covering his eyes; the lyrics alluding to the blindness of the generation ruled by communist ideology. Even though the vivid memory of the red history still haunted the people at that time, the song had a romantic inclination.
When the communist zeal fade, we have been going through a new period, since 1980s, the so called ‘ socialism with Chinese characteristics’, during which the policy of ‘reform and opening’ brought economic prosperity to the country. While China embraced all that modern technology has to offer and became the world factory; we the people who are proud of the country’s economic boom, are seriously insecure about our identity and culture, due to the burden of our failure in the history which is deeply ingrained in the people’s mind. With authority-led narratives, the ghost of the red ideally still infiltrates every aspect of the country and society remaining closed and rigid. The historical notion of the Great Wall as a barrier to protect lingers on because of the feeling of insecurity, translating it from something physical to a software inhabiting cyberspace.
With the Great Firewall Censorship project by the authoritarian government, our country has become a red lonely island in the sea of information in this highly connected world.
In the gallery, we used the live performance as an intervention to question the reality. To expand engagement with audience in the gallery, we were dressed in red uniforms and face masks while ironing three pieces of 3x3 metre of the red fabrics on the floor which were hung deliberately in front of a art works in the exhibition. The uniforms which we wore were folded up and left on the floor at the end of performance.
The piece came from our experiences of living and growing up in the country; the constant conflict between the individual and authority, struggling to overcome the barrier that has been purposely set up, while desiring to form new connections beyond the rigid structure and losing our identity in the process of globalisation in the search for recognition.
8.2018. Centre de la Gravure, Belgium