Updated: Jun 19
The focus of this work is on how the performance is created rather than on achieving a set result. As Bram said, “BUDA is a space for other performance-making possibilities. There were artists coming in with their own agenda, but during this process, they decided to change their old way of making, and thus challenge themselves back to the unknown, which is, even more, closer to heart.” At the end of the residency, I open up the research process and the presentation as part of it.
Authenticity, Flexibility, and Adaptation:
In my performance, I conducted interviews with local staff about their identity and connection with the city. To ensure that the interview process was effective, I created a feasible and fun interview procedure that could be adapted for each interviewee. From the interviewee's reactions and the personal and societal topics they covered in their sharing, I believe that my approach was successful. However, since the stories came from locals, it was important to transform their thoughts and identities in a respectful and authentic way, which required honesty and skill. While the feedback I received after the performance was positive, I plan to upgrade my soundscape skills in the future to handle these sincere and valuable voices while maintaining a "raw" texture and adapting to performance standards.
Communication is a key term here. There are two main creative collaborations included in this creation process, my dramaturg and my videographer.
In my collaboration with my dramaturg, we share the same position of voices. She supports my research process by suggesting literature, and related research methodology (especially in the Western Europe area). Most importantly, she adapted the work from the Hong Kong context into a Western Europe context. Since I am a Hong Kong-raised- artist, while my dramaturgy background is from the Netherlands, Evelyn helps me to facilitate my theological inspiration (from the Western culture) and creative ideas (nurtured in Hong Kong) efficiently by sharing her first-hand experience and research between locations. I also trust her judgment during the process. She is the first and only audience in the studio. Her presence gives me a lot of confidence to dive into the work.
Different from the director-actor/ choreographer-dancer relationship, the existence of a dramaturg supports the creative process with a comparatively objective attitude and connects the work to the macro context instead of staying in the artist’s own world. On one side, the interaction from different perspectives created a mutual communication between the maker and the dramaturg, which is non-hierarchical. On the other hand, this can push the work to cater to both micro and macro concerns, instead of staying in one’s bubble.
In my collaboration with my videographer, I actually regard him as a video director. When we are on-site, he took charge of the framing and actor placement. While I was choreographing according to the site, we communicated our impressions and imaginations on the spot. And hence, we did improvisation with our own agencies. And then I further adapted the footage into the live performance. From my experience, this way of collaboration gives us a certain degree of freedom to work together and inspire each other based on the same materials. Therefore, the video work we did is organic and authentic, which the audience could also feel. Most importantly, both of us enjoyed the process.
Indeed, this process-driven performance approach is less likely to archive “perfection” than the traditional performance, however, the process of which has provided a solid base to further extend the work and a great variety to create variations from that.
Residency practice/studio performance as a cradle for new ideas
As I mentioned, this work emphasizes collaboration and experimentation, therefore, I pay extra attention to the sharing/researching space. This studio presentation and mode of residency has inspired me to research the possibility of forming a "studio-performance" approach to creating performances for emerging artists.
Due to the fact that the venue rental for a proper performing venue in Hong Kong has a certain standard, this is not easy for an emerging artist to nurture their prime ideas. Therefore, the studio-performance/ presentation approach has opened a new possibility of staging a performance. Referring to my experience in Vienna last year, the studio performance has been a platform to showcase the initial idea. Over half of the participants have been actively developing their idea and showing them around the world, including the US, Netherlands, Italy, Uruguay, etc, until now.
On top of that, I am also interested in “interactive workshop theatre” since the workshop happens in the studio originally, but what if they are coming to a performative workshop? This expands the imagination of producing a “performance” and the relations between performers and the audience. The public facilities can also be further utilized for young artists, instead of considering rehearsal spaces only.
The exchange of information with other artists and teams during my stay at BUDA was an enriching experience for me. Attending the rehearsals and discussions of other groups allowed me to gain valuable insights into their creative processes and approaches to their work, which I could then apply to my own practice.
For example, witnessing a Norwegian choreographer, Ingrid Berger Myhre rehearsal for her new work gave me a new perspective on how movement and choreography can be used to convey meaning, and connections. My colleague Evelyn and I even participated in their discussion afterward. The exchange of information was not only beneficial for their work but also for us as art makers from diverse cultural backgrounds. We also had the pleasure of meeting Heike Langsdorf and Simone Basani, prominent artists from Germany and Italy, who are based in Brussels for their ongoing research, Spring Refuge II. Their work was a conversation-art piece in its middle stage of development, and it was their first day of the exhibition/live art set-up. While they were inspiring me with a new approach to interacting with the audience, our experience, and feedback also contributed to their work. These exchanges are valuable, especially for artists from different stages. We all keep exploring new approaches to one’s work.
Additionally, the conversations we had during lunch breaks and other social moments were great. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss various topics related to art in different fields and cities. The connection between artists from different disciplines was previous, and we focused not only on our individual work but also on the art itself. The bonds formed between us were long-lasting and extended far beyond the two weeks we spent together at BUDA.
Overall, the exchange of information and ideas with other artists at BUDA was a grateful experience that allowed me to learn from and be inspired by the work of others, and to continue developing my own practice in new and exciting ways. And the communication between artists and test audiences has shown that there is a necessity to build a space and community for the ideas to grow. To me, hybridity is not just a term, it’s in one’s mind, one’s body, and one’s heart. Facing thousands of goodbyes and flying into the unknown future,
I wonder, what will our culture be and how can we position or anchor ourselves. And to get closer to that, SPACE is crucial.