Shadow is the oldest form of cinema. A light source projecting a flat image of an object on a surface. When the light source or the object moves, the shadow transforms. This transformation is magical. Like a card trick; All you know is that it's simple. A shadow can haunt you. Hypnotize you. Plato's cave.
Everything that surrounds us has a minimum of three dimensions; It's form, it's sound and it's shadow. During this performance you will witness only 2 of them; sound and shadow. Two ephermal dimensions of solid objects.
When a object or organism dies or becomes trash, these identities stay alive. A dead tree becomes a violin, a dead donky's skin becomes a shadow-puppet and a empty plastic bottle becomes a beautiful image.
3000 years ago the chineese started to develop this into a theatreform by cutting out shapes of animal skin and colour these figures. The figures that will appear in TTT where all made by chinees crafmen after drawings by Serge Onnen.
The caracters you will meet in front of your eyes but behind the curtain are; the baglady, the pennypicker, The vagabon, The centman, The beggar, The recyler and The trashman. People that have allways lived in every society's shadow.
2013 Schloss Mediale Werdenberg
Chinese shadow figures, swiss cowbells, light, wood, etc
Faces of smiling men floating around the surface of a 6 Ø meter round lampshade.
These are the faces of Deng Xiao Ping, Alan Greenspan, Milton Friedman, Karl Marx, Friedrich Hayek and John Keynes.
Six of the most important people in world economics from the last 100 years. The ideas of these 6 figures have dominated the world we live in today on a massive scale. With exception of Greenspan they are all dead but their ideas, like ghosts, are still very much alive and continuously being questioned and debated. None of these economic models seems to work anymore. World economics is a fragile balancing act that can collapse at any time. The marionette player is also a common used metaphor for the people in control, the people pulling the strings, the manipulators - somewhat like the characters in this installation. Here the mechanism turns against itself, against it's own creators.
The shadows casted by these figures will continuously merge, clash, fade in and fade out because of the unpredictable movements a fragile balance the mobile makes. This whole pandemonium is being accompanied by the friendly and dreamy sound of ringing bells. The continuously unruly movements of economics, sound and shadow collide and create a total image. The Swiss bells are off course a reference to the direct environment of the castle where cows are having a very good life as a very recognizable symbol of Switzerland, a country famous for it's banks and global organizations.
For the last 10 years all kinds of economic models have been important inspirations to my work; from the movements of recycling to more recently, the smallest currency, the cent. Shadow is the perfect medium to comment on economics: all we see are its deformed and derailed reflections but its insides remain hidden to us.
Since I have started to work last year with Chinese shadow figures (the figures in this piece where carved from cow leather by Tian Xiang from Shanxi province) I have also started researching and getting more interested in the history of puppet plays. One of the things I discovered, is that since the early origins of puppet play, in every culture ranging from China to Europe, puppets have been used to ridicule, make fun and give a grotesque vision of important people and events. This is the first time I use existing people in my work and I would like to see this in that same tradition.
First night of Value of Nothing performance with gquin player Wu Na on 26 june 2012 at Paper Tiger's Studio beijing. Upcoming performances at CAFA museum 9 june & final on 23 june with Daiguo Li at Three Shadow Gallery Cao Changdi Art District, Beijing. For each performance a different chinese musician was invited. Each musician is a specialist in experimental music with traditional chinese instruments. In the same way that I make experimental shadowplay with a traditional technique.
more info on http://www.sergeonnen.com (filmed by Voebe de Gruyter)
more images here;http://www.flickr.com//photos/chineseshadows/sets/72157629929975620/show/
Short clip from the performance by Serge Onnen, artist in residence in Beijing & Mark van Tongeren, musician living in Taipei booth members of the Amsterdam improvisation band OORBEEK worked together to make a shadow performance.
Onnen has made several shadow performances in europe and is now researching chinese shadow-theater while working at IFP. This will be the first of three performances in Beijing where he will use specially made characters, made from the traditionally donkey skin, combined with things found in hutongs.
For each performance he will invite a different musician.
The chinese shadow theater goes back to the Han Dynasty (200 BC) and could be seen as the oldest pre-cinema technic. Onnen uses several pre-cinema technics in exhibitions and performances. Van Tongeren is a musician/researcher and the writer of the much acclaimed book 'overtone singing'. He used mainly his voice and some small instruments like shruti box, turtle mandoline and a kaosspad. Making 'DINGEN DOEN' a very Euro-Chinese 21 century, low tech performance.
performance nr2 at 26+27may at PaperTiger's festival, Beijing