December 7, 2016 - OCAT Shenzhen - Li Ran, Tao Hui: OCAT Performs: Act
December 7, 2016

OCAT Shenzhen

Li Ran, The Extras, 2016. Screenshot. Courtesy of the artist.

Li Ran, Tao Hui
OCAT Performs: Act
December 3–23, 2016

Performance: Emotional Cough: December 10, 3:30–4:10pm
Performance: Emotional Cough: December 17, 3:30–4:10pm

OCAT Shenzhen
F2 Building, OCT-LOFT
Enping Road, Nanshan
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5:30pm
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First initiated in 2008 by OCAT Shenzhen, OCAT Performs is a project held annually in the winter. The theme this year is Act, with the artists Li Ran and Tao Hui invited to take part. With “sound” and “language” serving as forms of performance, and with roles given out and the on-site space molded, the works enable audience interaction and offer up reflections on the concepts of “live presence” (xianchang) and “performance” (biaoyan).

Li Ran’s video installation The Extras (2016) sets its “stage” in a huge limestone cave called Shihuadong (“Stone Flower Cave”), located in the Fangshan area to the south of Beijing. This has been the backdrop used for the past dozen years or so on Beijing Television’s (BTV) weather forecast. The varying geological folds and the variegated colors artificially projected thereon, along with the post-production sound effects from popular television as well as texts with emotional prompts—all these are brought to the foreground of the stage, and situated in a pre-set, temporary site in waiting. The microphone hanging straight down from the ceiling parallels the stalactite naturally formed from erosion in the caves; in the exhibition space, this is where the sound enters, awaiting the “actors” to add in description (in words) in order to complete the performance. Tao Hui’s Emotional Cough (2016) is based on the routine characterizations of television dramas and literary works, predetermining different degrees of “coughing” for the actors. Tao portrays the roles through the three different kinds of sounds: the drumming of musical performances, the sounds of coughing, and the discourse in scholarly discussions, dividing the space into three equal and connected parts.

The theme of the performances, Act, points to both the form of performances as well as the expression of the identities of the “actors.” Looking back on the fictional identities fashioned in Li Ran’s previous works—from the ex-Soviet soldier in the video work From Truck Driver to Political Commissar (2012), to the blurred imagery of youth and the middle-aged in the performance work Mont Sainte-Victoire (2012), and to the host of a popular social and natural science program in the video work Beyond Geography (2012)—one sees how Li Ran has always been the enactor of roles. In a new installation that the artist created for OCAT Performs, The Extras, Li Ran switches the role of the “actor” and places that on the audience. Guided by the prompts in the text, the audience speak and play the role of “extras” in the work, discerning the fictional and the real in the “performance," as well as that fine line between the roles of the actor/spectator.  

Tao Hui’s artistic practice has always revolved around the methodologies of “human” culture and social identities. His early video work Miss Green, Remember to Forget (2008) sets into everyday life the folk legendary characters, “Miss Green” (Xiao Qing) and “Madame White Snake” (Bai Suzhen), from the TV series The New Legend of the White Snake, turning that encounter of reality and fiction into a site where identities collide. In Acting Tutorial (2014), a recent video installation work, Tao imagines and concocts identities for actors. This work records how several actors came together in a fabricated site of a performance school, where the actors imagined and expressed various extreme emotional states. Here, the reality of the bodily movements and of the emotions in all their televisual theatricality are hard to tell apart. For OCAT Performs, Tao Hui has created Emotional Cough (2016), which extends his dialectical discussion of the inside/outside of the body and of emotions. The multitude of identities (drummer, cougher, researcher) in the actors are intermeshed; under the conditions of coughing, whether these be pathologically derived or emotionally contrived, the work explores the linkages between the human body and the most emotional of instances, rethinking one’s invention and understanding of self-identity in social situations.

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OCAT Performs: Act
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