////// Final dress rehearsal on July 11, 2015 ///////
The Red Detachment of Women is a celebration of two worlds that almost exist. The first is a tropical paradise inhabited by female soldiers, as imagined in Madame Mao’s The Red Detachment of Women (ballet film: 1970). In her Red Detachment, a peasant girl undergoes a political awakening: the homicidal rage directed at her landlord is tamed, and she becomes a regulated, productive military agent. The second is an all-women state-of-the-art industrial pork processing plant, accommodating both Chinese factories’ preference for female workers with the latest in scientific management techniques.
This is a choreographed piece for six dancers, functioning simultaneously as a performance for a theatrical audience as well as a training manual for workers-soldiers that have almost arrived. Props, costumes, soundtrack and 3D-animated backgrounds blur the line between past and future, bridging China’s revolutionary imaginary and its projected economic future. An emphasis on perfect coordination and staggered synchronization implies a social machine so well designed it needs no leader. At the core of this piece is the systematization of violence for the purpose of greater productivity: whether in the production of revolution or in the production of edible goods. Exaggerated geometry and saturated reds and pinks will literalize the act of systematization.
This piece poses a series of questions, such as: what is the relationship of social memory to social forgetting? How does selective memory, shaped by trauma manifesting in effects such as linguistic slips, generate new meanings - “Red Detachment” as military corps as well as the bloody disassembly of a carcass? What are the comparative optics of a revolutionary model versus a Fordist model, and is there any possibility of continuity between the two?
This piece was made with the generous support of Triple Canopy and The Whitney Museum of Art, and premiered on July 12, 2015 in a 3-person program called "Pattern Masters" which included new commissions by David Horvitz with Susie Ibarra, and Lucy Raven.