The third chapter of special project First Spring will open at ShanghART Beijing on 29 May, presenting the video installation Same Old Crowd by Li Ran and a documentation of Melati Suryodarmo's performance Exergie – Butter Dance. The exhibition continues until 27 June.
Exergie – Butter Dance has been the best-known work for Indonesian artist Melati Suryodarmo. Drawing from Butoh, dance and history, Suryodarmo's art is concerned with cultural, social and political aspects through her body psychologically and physically. This piece was first performed in 2000 at Berlin's Hebbel Theatre. Inspired by her personal experience as an immigrant to Germany, the artist used butter to convey a culture shock from the West, while the seemingly absurd, repeated falling during the dance revisits the unpredictability of real life and anxiety in the face of the unknown. It emphasises a strong will to get up again, rather than physical pain.
This kind of 'factual absurdity' and the unclear tension also run through the 2016 four-channel video work Same Old Crowd by Li Ran. The artist hired twelve non-professional actors through different means and anonymously placed them into this fixed plot and scenario. In post-editing, he inserted a large number of simulated sound effects and furthermore excised any linguistic narration and dialogue. Through a dramatic and theatrical arrangement, Li Ran attached a series of human characteristics to the animal, 'corporeal' bodies. "These bodies in the video, gazing upon one another and yet under a state of restless vigilance, are precisely we who encounter the inherent rules within the institutional system of art."
Press release courtesy ShanghART.