Arriving in Beijing for the Dadao Live Art festival, I’m aware that this third trip to China is on the surface at least, a bit easier. That may have something to do with being collected from the airport or perhaps it’s the extra special effort Beijing is making for the Olympics or maybe it’s just that I recognise something this time around.
But I’m suspicious that this familiarity is superficial at best. When I made my way to 798 Art Space to meet Shu Yang, the curator of the Dadao festival, I introduced myself and was greeted by a helpful man who said he was Shu Yang. I wasn’t convinced, as I had remembered Shu Yang from a previous visit and this man didn’t look like my memory of him. Still I’d just flown overnight half way around the world and it seemed impolite to be sceptical. I said I was there to look at the space where I might be performing and he said go ahead (I make these sound like straight forward exchanges when in fact they were delicate negotiations in my poor Mandarin and his passable English). I looked around and enjoyed the exhibition which Shu Yang has curated but decided I needed to know if the exhibition would be there when the performances took place. So I thought I’d ask ‘Shu Yang’. It was at this stage that my helpful friend made clear that he had no idea who I was and what the Dadao Live Art Festival might be. If this was Shu Yang then I was in trouble.
Fortunately he did now know who the real Shu Yang was, or maybe I managed to pronounce it in a way that made his name recognisable. He called Shu Yang who came immediately to collect me. Take nothing for granted and keep calm.
Though it’s clear from meeting the friendly and dedicated festival organisers that this is a big challenge for them on limited financial and administrative resources, I think that the work I’m bringing is sufficiently sure of its core identity to be able to adapt to whatever circumstances it might have to face: it seems like there’s an opportunity for me to perform in either a gallery, a street or a studio theatre. I want to perform in all three locations and let the reiteration of Cosán Dearg gather new experiences and memories to its already evocative score.