Xu Tan – Screening and Discussion

Wednesday 13 February
7 pm

LOCATION ONE: art - talk - technology - music   The filmaker Robert Adanto will be present at the screening.
documentary The Rising Tide [link] “investigates China’s meteoric march toward the future through the work of some of its most talented emerging artists, whose work reflects the country’s rising influence as an economic, political and cultural force in the global arena.” The film includes an interview with Xu Tan.

You are cordially invited to join Chinese artist Xu Tan and Nathalie Angl├Ęs, Director of Location One’s International Residency Program, for a special screening of the video Concert Hall of Zhen Daoxing  which premieres next week at the contemporary arts festival, ArtSheffield08, and for a viewing of Xu Tan’s installation Keywords  in our main gallery. more information

The screening will be followed by a discussion with the artist. This is also your last chance to see Xu Tan’s installation

In his video Concert Hall of Zheng Daoxing, Xu Tan presents the documentation of a concert performance of Mr Zheng Daoxing, of Yangjiang County, China, which he organized. Accompanying himself on a self-built electric guitar, Mr Zheng sings songs about his life, mixing his own tunes with revolutionary songs and traditional Chinese motifs. The story of his life is a convoluted tale about work: he has been a farmer, soldier, and truck driver. During the Chinese economic reforms of the 1980s, he established his own transportation company which went bankrupt during the 1997 economic crisis, whereupon he became a singer, touring the country at the age of 60. It has often been observed that under the ‘flexible’ and precarious working conditions imposed by current forms of turbo-capitalism, professional careers have become disjointed.

Since the life-long employment that used to provide the connecting thread in people’s biography is no longer the norm, the stories of their lives come to sound like an arbitrary collage of fragments.

The story of Mr Zheng’s life on the one hand seems to be precisely such a fragmented biography. On the other hand, however, it is through his very particular performance that he strings the fragments together again in his songs. Taking matters into his own hands, Mr Zheng creates a revolutionary form of new folklore, merging the tunes of the past with the improvised songs of the present into a hybrid form that, even and especially in its most bizarre moments, seems perfectly suited for telling the story of contemporary working biographies. In presenting Mr Zheng as an example, Xu Tan seems to suggest that it is from his songwriting that we could learn how to, now and in the future, tell the story of our lives.