Title of Work: The Opera. Three Transformations
Artist: Varvara Shavrova
Year Produced: 2010/2016
Duration: 3 min, 41 sec
Originally commissioned as a multi-channel video projection for the Espacio Cultural El Tanque, an empty oil tank in Tenerife, and subsequently shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014, The Opera is an insight into the fragile world as well as social and human aspects of the Peking Opera, one of the most revered cultural heritages of the Chinese national scene. The work focuses on the transformation of the Peking Opera artists from male to female, and from female to male. Although they are admired by society as artists, their true identities and personal hardships cannot be lived out openly. Looking into the archaic and often utopian world of Chinese opera, Shavrova investigates issues of personal identity, sexuality and gender bending as they are manifested by both traditional and contemporary culture in modern day China. Balancing moments of pure visuality with the austere formal movement codes of traditional choreography, the video underscores the striking avant-garde qualities of this most traditional of art forms. The Opera is accompanied by a specially commissioned music score written by the Beijing based composer Benoit Granier, that incorporates elements of traditional Chinese and contemporary electronic music.
Varvara Shavrova was born in Moscow and studied fine art at the Moscow Polygraphic Institute. After 15 years in London, she moved to Beijing, where she lived and worked for over five years. Now based in Dublin, Shavrova has shown in numerous public institutions and has curated significant exhibitions in Russia, China, Ireland and the UK. Her work is in many important public and private collections worldwide. The Opera projection in Berlin is supported by Culture Ireland.