I’ve been in Beijing over a week now. I’m staying in Caochangdi, an artists’ village beyond the famous 798 art district but not quite as far as Beigao where I stayed last year. I’m living in a studio that belongs to the Platform China gallery, one of the many galleries in the village. The whole place, however, is under threat of demolition by Government-sanctioned developers despite its concentration of successful galleries and despite being the home of Ai Wei Wei
Xiao Ke also live in Caochangdi so we’ve been rehearsing this latest version of Dialogue in an empty gallery space nearby.
Yin Yi who made the music for our earlier versions of Dialogue isn’t with us so instead we have a musician called Feng Hao and a a video artist called He Long. They bring a new energy to the piece and at the same time, the fact that there are two of them allows me and Xiao Ke to refocus the dance more clearly on our relationship. We’ve taken this chance to refine the through-line of the piece and that coupled with the fact that we have even more experience under our belt makes this process feel quite relaxed.
It’s been interesting to hear various Chinese artists like Xiao Ke and Yin Yi talk about the other international collaborations in which they’ve been involved. I’m gratified, naturally, that they’ve been positive about their experience with Dialogue in a way that they’ve not been with other projects. Listening to them, however, it seems the key ingredient to success is investing time. I’ve known Xiao Ke since 2006 now. We are friends. This allows us a mutual understanding that enhances the way we work. Many other projects however are shot-gun marriages of convenience that are put together to take advantage of a funding opportunity. And there’s no reason why such arranged marriages shouldn’t blossom in to something fantastic – but the results are rarely immediate, particularly when there is such cultural differences that impact on aesthetics and working practices.