MisplacedWomen?

Posts Tagged ‘feminist’

The International Women’s Day contribution by Tan Tan

In Gent, Performances on March 16, 2019 at 12:56 pm

A Pink River, the International Women’s Day contribution by Tan Tan is a story (as she says) —about a “misplaced woman” who comes from China and currently lives in Belgium, who attempts to find her place as a foreign woman despite all the stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings.

This poetic performance has been created in direct response to the “MISPLACED WOMEN?”: “Score 1 – Unpacking a Bag of Your Own”, delegated performance by Tanja Ostojić (ongoing since 2009). Tan Tan was initially supposed to realise it in China in the frame of “Trouble Diaries, a political statement” at Big House, Wuhan, China (2017–18), an exhibition that was curated by Dermis Leon, in which Ostojić took part. As Ostojić was not able to travel to China, Tan Tan has been delegated to interpret her “Misplaced Women?” performance in the public space. 

Tan Tan who is doing her PhD in Belgium, decided to build in her perspective on stereotypes from the Westerners towards Chinese, exposing her vulnerable status as a foreign Asian woman living in this developed but closed society. And so she has finally chosen to perform it in Gent in the feminist context of the annual manifestation against sexism on The International Women’s Day, as she was particularly curious about reception of her performance in the context of this woman’s rights event. Would they embrace someone from different perspective to join their struggle? Here is what she has done and how she reflected a pone it. 

Tan Tan: “A Pink River”, Stadshal, Gent. A 2018 “Misplaced Women?” contribution. Photo: Okky Oki, Sara De Vuyst, Sallisa Rosa

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A Pink River
60 min performance by Tan Tan
March 8, 2018, Stadshal, Gent, Belgium
Duration: 1 hour

Tan Tan: “A Pink River”, Stadshal, Gent. A 2018 “Misplaced Women?” contribution. Photo: Okky Oki, Sara De Vuyst, Sallisa Rosa

At 7 pm, on March 8, 2018, I arrived to the central plaza of Gent with my large suitcase that I normally use for international travels. After several days of rain, there was a splendid sunset but also fierce wind running around the city. In half an hour, the biggest annual manifestation against sexism in this city would start from under the roof of a pavilion of the city hall.

Tan Tan: “A Pink River”, Stadshal, Gent. A 2018 “Misplaced Women?” contribution. Photo: Okky Oki, Sara De Vuyst, Sallisa Rosa

I started unpacking my suitcase near one of the pavilions gates. First I took out a tablecloth and put it on the floor, then I placed many of my stuff on it, such as toiletries, cosmetics, candles and some Chinese convenience foods. More and more people came and passed by me, most of them were women, including socialist activists, feminist fighters, and lesbians. In front of them, I started to put some make-up on my face, as if I was in my bedroom. After that, I ate some Chinese pickles with a toast, and then put on my pyjamas. I slept for a while with a panda toy in my arms, with all the messy stuff around me. 

Tan Tan: “A Pink River”, Stadshal, Gent. A 2018 “Misplaced Women?” contribution. Photo: Okky Oki, Sara De Vuyst, Sallisa Rosa

At about 7.30 pm, the square was already full of people, holding diverse slogans and flags for women’s rights. On the stage, the leader of the manifestation began her speech that was to encourage people to do actions together. So I “woke up” to the loud sound, and started to draw out a piece of very long narrow pink cloth out of my suitcase. I unfolded it, and placed it on the ground. Soon, the people were surprised to find out  that an Asian woman was spreading a seemingly endless piece of cloth in the middle of the crowd, which compulsively divided them into two sides. Some women actually helped me in a friendly manner to spread the cloth. After a long way squeezing among the people, I set the “end” of the cloth somewhere near the stage, so the cloth kind of resembled a “red carpet”.

Right after, I ran back to the suitcase, took out some flashy clothes and put them on, to begin a “cat walk”. I wore some traditional Chinese clothes between others, and lifted a Chinese lantern over my head, with a background music of the “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show”. I walked several times back and forth, and gradually removed layers of clothes, until just few kind of “sexy” summer clothes left on my body. 

During the performance, some people noticed that there was a hand written text along side of the pink cloth, while majority kept focused on the speeches going on on the stage. This is the text I wrote on the cloth for this occasion:

I’m a woman
I’m made in China
But I’m not cheap

I’m a woman
I like shopping
But I’m not a commodity

I’m a woman
I work like man
But I don’t get the same (pay*)

I’m a woman 
I sleep with man
But I deserve my own place

After a while, the crowd departed for the parade, left me standing on the pink “carpet” with some balloons in my hand. The same place which was fully packed became completely empty. Only the wind was still turning around. Suddenly, I punched the balloons one by one. And the sounds of bursted out balloons spread all over the square. 

Tan Tan: “A Pink River”, Stadshal, Gent. A 2018 “Misplaced Women?” contribution. Photo: Okky Oki, Sara De Vuyst, Sallisa Rosa

Then, I removed another layer of my clothes and ended up in a nightgown. With a gust of wind, I lifted the cloth that flied in the sky like a running river! I tried to hold and move this “pink river” until it made a circle surrounding the staff packing the rest of the stage from the manifestation. However, they just pushed the cloth aside from them, continuing their job, as if nothing strange was happening…  

Tan Tan: “A Pink River”, Stadshal, Gent. A 2018 “Misplaced Women?” contribution. Photo: Okky Oki, Sara De Vuyst, Sallisa Rosa

At the end, I reeled the cloth on my body and turned it into clothes. Afterwards, l lay down along my stuff on the table-cloth again, as if I was buried by the “pink river”.

Tan Tan: “A Pink River”, Stadshal, Gent. A 2018 “Misplaced Women?” contribution. Photo: Okky Oki, Sara De Vuyst, Sallisa Rosa

It is a story about a “misplaced woman” who comes from China and currently lives in Belgium, who attempts to find her place as a foreign woman despite all the stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings. Sometimes, she has a drive to disguise herself like a model in a fashion show, to act different roles that she is expected to be… She tries very hard to coexist with the people here, and to join their struggles but she somehow fails again and again… It seems she even can’t understand what they are fighting for… The only thing she could do is to live like a flowing river, dancing, singing, across the world, as it seems to be the most suitable manifestation of her existence and journey of life.

Performance and text by: Tan Tan
Photography: Okky Oki, Sara De Vuyst, Sallisa Rosa, Tan Tan
Video:  Lennart Soberon
Assistance and light: Cathy
Contribution by Tan Tan has been edited and first published by Tanja Ostojić on the “Misplaced Women?” Blog 2018/19

(*) editorial comment

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Tan Tan is an artist and curator who currently lives and works in China and Belgium. Her oeuvre so far includes experimental film/video art, as well as intermedia works that combine performance, music, sound and image. She took part in numerous exhibitions and film festivals internationally. Urban spaces, social intervention, and spiritual healing are the core topics concerned in her work. 

In the international context, she has been often asked about her “Chinese identity” or “female features” in her work, but she doesn’t really want to answer to those questions. She prefers to live freely worldwide and to practice whatever kind of art she wants. However in regard to her current stay in Europe, she has a records of several visa refusals, as she has been suspected for her migratory tendencies.

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Berlin Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

In Berlin, Performances, Railway-stations, Workshops on February 2, 2019 at 10:42 pm

Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play

Performance by: Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Location: S-Bahn train stations Prenzlauer Allee and Ostkreuz, Berlin, January 23, 2018.

Text by: Jiachen

The performance consists of three parts: body measuring, dying oranges chess play, and the in-between or misplaced spaces. It is a result of spontaneous entanglement of ideas from Evdoxia (body measuring) and Jiachen (orange chess play) developed during Berlin itinerary of the “Misplaced Women?” workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Though the performance as an entity is inseparable from any of it’s parts, I will mainly look at the latter part and the surrounding forces in this writing piece. 

Within the workshop “Misplaced Women?” facilitated by Tanja Ostojić, words such as: misplaced, women, and the question mark, became the structuring forces of this performance. “Women” in its plural form, I ask, identified as a queer feminist woman of colour, who are included in its reference? Misplaced, as the adjective suggests, on one hand, a finished state, temporally or not, in comparison to the wording “displacing”; on the other, what is the defining state of “placement”, and I wander, defined by whom?  My thought thus arrives at the question mark. 

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Jiachen and Evdoxia Stafylaraki: “Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh and Nati Canto

Trinh T. Minh-ha is one of those feminist theorists who inspires me lastingly. She says, “Woman can never be defined. Bat, dog, chick, mutton, tart. Queen, madam, lady of pleasure. MISTRESS. Belle-de-nuit, woman of the street, fruit woman, fallen woman. Cow, vixen, bitch. Call girl, joy girl, working girl” (1986). This vivid and visual description of the ontological instability of women, especially for third world women in Minh-ha’s account, speaks for me. I gain my strength from reading works by black feminists and feminists of colour to survive joyfully, bravely and ambiguously in a seemingly constant misplaced/misplacing state, physically, psychologically, and beyond.

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Jiachen and Evdoxia Stafylaraki: “Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

I went to the workshop with an expectation to actualise certain struggling thoughts through body performances. The result, one week after the workshop, is way more than that. It is already very therapeutic for me to be surrounded by women bravely and creatively in the face of different forms of displacement struggles. And to share and do something collectively through an honest and caring sharing of our vulnerabilities. How wonderful is that!

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Jiachen and Evdoxia Stafylaraki: “Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Nati Canto and Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

 

In terms of the specific performance collaborated with Eva (Evdoxia Stafylaraki), I am a bit resistant to translate the process into languages. I would like to share some details that might be interesting to know. I come across those seven dying oranges at two friend’s kitchen. They were forgotten in the corner, waiting to be thrown away into trash. I noticed them and initially arranged them on the back placemat on the kitchen table. This was the birth of the idea “dying oranges chess play”. Number seven bears different meanings in different cultural contexts. In my memory it signifies a return in I-Ching. I guess there is always a piece of me strives for a return, even though the “original” place is non-existent anymore. To mobilise the nostalgia feeling evoked by “return” to the on-going chess play in public transportation stations seems to be one of the articulations during the chess play part of the performance. No one is setting the rules in the present, but there are waves of ghosts surrounding the gameplay. These waves of ghosts in my retrospective reading were displaced by the first part of the performance: the body measuring. Constant decision: making or un-making, and the questions of the aesthetics of misplaced existence are brought to the very surface, and will hopefully get revolved and transformed, step by step.

Text by: Jiachen Xu

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Video and photos: Nati Canto, Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Edited and first published by Tanja Ostojić, 2018-19 on the Misplaced Women? project blog

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Jiachen recently finished a joint master degree in women’s and gender studies in Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and University of Oviedo, Spain.

Evdoxia Stafylaraki is mathematician, sculptor and performance artist from Chania, Greece.

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Contribution by Mad Kate

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Public Presentation of the Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, January 2018

Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!

In Berlin, Performances, Workshops on February 28, 2018 at 12:47 pm

In the frame of Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, January 22–24,2018, hosted by Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin, the following performance action has been developed and performed for the first time:

Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!  –  a collaborative intervention with large mirrors in Berlin’s underground confronting manspreading, a habit of men sitting in public transport with legs wide apart, thereby covering more than their own seat.

By: Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

With the participation of: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki and Jiachen Xu, without whom this intervention would not be possible.

Duration: ca. 2 hours

Locations:

U8, from Hermannstraße to Weinmeisterstraße

U8, from Weinmeisterstraße to Kottbusser Tor, change to U1

U1, Kottbusser Tor to Wittenbergplatz

U1, Wittenbergplatz to Schlesisches Tor

2-Alice

“Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!” by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh, developed in the frame of: Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, Berlin (Jan. 2018) With: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki, Jiachen Xu. Photo: Alice Minervini

Berlin’s underground station is a central meeting point in the public arena. Various people from all directions come together, pass each other silently or simply diverge paths. In such a rapidly-growing city, the underground has turned into the main means of transport and it is no longer uncommon to see people moving homes or moving their furniture by means of the U-Bahn.

3-Jiachen

“Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!” by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh, developed in the frame of: Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, Berlin (Jan. 2018) With: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki, Jiachen Xu. Photo: Jiachen Xu

Together with five other women holding large mirrors on Berlin’s underground, the collaborative intervention was a silent protest against manspreading faced by women in everyday life. Spectators were privy to the blurred relationship between the women due to the disjointedness of cultural backgrounds, age and style of clothing that characterised each woman.

4-Alice

“Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!” by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh, developed in the frame of: Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, Berlin (Jan. 2018) With: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki, Jiachen Xu. Photo: Alice Minervini

The aim of the subtle intervention was to point out an issue that has become quite normalised in our mind. The intervention showed that even when women appear silent, we are in fact all actors of the public-political sphere. For two hours, women deliberately reclaimed the urban space as a form of resistance.

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“Mirror, Mirror – Spread Your Reflection!” by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh, developed in the frame of: Tanja Ostojić´s Misplaced Women? workshop, Berlin (Jan. 2018) With: Gaby Bila-Günther, Nati Canto, Alice Minervini, Evdoxia Stafylaraki, Jiachen Xu. Photo: Sajan Mani

Separated and placed at different stations along the U8 line, each woman would, one by one, enter the carriage of the same train. We would sit in male-dominated areas, ideally opposite a man spreading his legs widely. The mirror would face him whilst we appeared to be hidden behind each mirror and yet, our bodies were physically always present

At the same time, each woman felt empowered by a small, symbolic act. Yet the impact was strong – we had created a place of surveillance by literally holding up the mirror to men (and to society). We sat a powerful mark on how men have been depriving women of the right to a space that belongs to all of us. We observed reactions of visible intimidation and uneasiness by men who were exposed to our confrontation. We disrupted the urban space and displaced men out of the seemingly guaranteed anonymity.

Using the mirror as a tool of resistance, I was intrigued in particular by its symbolic meaning and the questions it raised: What is (in-)visible? What becomes (in-)visible in public space?

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Text written by: Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Edited and published by: Tanja Ostojić

Photo and video documentation by: Sajan Mani, Alice Minervini and Jiachen Xu

For further actions check out the Spread Your Reflection page.

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Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh is a Performative Activist of Colour based in Berlin.

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Contribution by Nati Canto

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Mad Kate

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Public Presentation of the Misplaced Women? Workshop in Berlin, January 24, 2018

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