[中][ENG]「楊箕田野」的一朵花——二高訪談 A flower from Yang Ji - Interview with Ergao
Dance Curating in Asia
二高 Ergao / 照片由廣東時代美術館提供 Photo provided by Guangdong Times Museum
編按：今期本欄邀請了廣州的二高來分享他最近策劃的「二高表演黃邊EA店」計劃（EA - Ephemeral Art瞬時藝術），而他就特地邀請了北京舞蹈學院副教授田湉以採訪的形式，幫助他一起整理計劃的來龍去脈。
田湉： 2019年，你獲得了瑞士文化基金國際駐留項目 ，2020年，也獲得廣東時代美術館、日本AIT及Bethel House藝術家駐留計劃，分別開始了在蘇黎世、日本駐地創作計劃。駐地期間都經歷了甚麽，做了哪些創造性的事情？
A flower from Yang Ji - Interview with Ergao
Original text: Tian Tian, Ergao
Translator: Scarlet Yu
Editor’s note: We have invited Ergao from Guangzhou to share with us his recently curated project – Ergao Performance Huangbian EA Store (EA stands for Ephemeral Art). He asked Tian Tian, Associate Professor at the Beijing Dance Academy, to help illustrate the project in detail in the form of an interview.
Ergao Performance Huangbian EA Store
T: In 2019, you were selected for the Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council artist in residence programme in Zurich and in 2020 received similar awards from Guangdong Times Museum, Arts Initiative Tokyo and Bethel House. Can you describe your experience and what you created, particularly in Zurich and Japan, during your residencies?
E: I went to Japan to start my residency before the 2020 pandemic and went to Zurich in 2019. I see residency programmes as a way to gather and search physical experience, constructing a mirror-like self-reflectivity through meeting different people from different countries and getting a feel for different cultures. In Japan I collaborated with a nursing home, and it was important to maintain a fine balance between avoiding turning the project into some kind of dance “therapy” while also avoiding offending people. Each resident of the nursing home had different levels of mental condition, and we danced together with them instead of “teaching” them to dance. We drew on memories of good food from home to bring out folklore topics about Japan by “asking questions”. They liked the way this was able to mobilize their memory. I felt that I had made a “travel programme”, enabling these friends with mental problems to talk about their background and personal experience, to feel each other’s beauty and evoke everyone’s nostalgia for home or a sense of déjà vu. Through this process, we discovered wider possibilities of art, which were lighter, more free, and had no threshold. Art can always be created in more than one way.
T: I often think that in Guangzhou, there is Wǔtiáo rén for bands and Ergao for dance, both of which overflow with the specific, strong cultural characteristics of the Guangdong region, gaudy but not old fashioned. As the founder of Ergao Dance Production Group, how did you define the direction of your studio?
E: I think this gaudy quality you mentioned is probably related to my personal experience. I grew up in a small city, my home was very rustic and old. Now all of that has been filtered, yet in fact it is still part of me. The DNA in my body and the beautiful things are also these seemingly “low”, old fashioned and gaudy. Gaudy brings me closer to different kinds of people.
The studio was founded in 2014, it is very much like a substance that will ferment into something else when it hits other places. For example, when we did the Invisible Theatre Week some time ago, we entered the urban village community, and when we went to Europe, we did a different version of This is A Chicken Co-op. In addition to creating artwork, we also have education programmes and I hope we can apply these more widely. We have been exploring and thinking about how to maximize the function of the studio.
Ergao Performance Huangbian EA Store
T: From the end of last year to the beginning of this year, you did the Invisible Theatre Week at Huangbian village in Guangzhou which caught my attention. What you were doing was incredibly meaningful. The dance was embedded in an urban village, and this embedding was deep, human and community-based. You really connected with society and reality through this performance.
E: This was a project for a community arts festival by Times Museum in Guangzhou. I chose to open an ephemeral dance studio in an urban village, the theme was “happening is here, living is here”. For three days from 21 to 23 December 2020, we handed out leaflets, then brought some simple materials to set up the space in coordination with the colour scheme and aesthetic of the village. On 24 December, Western Christmas Eve, which seems a bit at variance with the location, the studio announced its opening; we then decided to announce its closure on 31 December to welcome the new year.
On the first day of the event, we held a “ribbon-cutting ceremony”, we brought guests to visit the village, and on the third day of the event, there was an art performance called Dance Storm. We contacted the Huangbian village dance team and invited the local ‘aunties’ - the aunties from the neighbouring village, Hebian, also came along. The way we communicated was that we taught these ladies a dance and they taught us a dance, so there was a kind of dance battle. The most interesting thing was that we chose to hold the performance outside with the audience and the stage separated by a road. So while the audience was watching, there were motorcycles, bicycles and cars coming and going between us and them. I especially liked this setting. It made that performance an artistic event that really happened in that place and allowed people to feel the close connection between life and performance.
Days four through six we had prepared some planned activities and private lessons, but only one person signed up for the private lessons and no-one signed up for the free parenting classes. However, we became friends with the locals by doing things with them - talking, having massages, drinking herbal tea, getting haircuts, and going to the pet store, so we lived there too. Later we premiered Gong Hei Fat Choy at the open air cinema in Huangbian with a simultaneous broadcast at the Changsha BanShan Dancers and the lamb soup restaurant under the Buyi Dance Club in Shanxi. We talked to the audiences in all three locations and recorded their feedback. One audience member said she was very happy because the atmosphere brought back her childhood memories - she was physically moved and kept crying. An event is not about selling the artist’s concept, or the concept of a project, but about finding ways to [dissolve] absorb the concept.
T: In this project, I saw real people who had “lived” in a real place. What are your plans for future creations?
E: We have all become artists in the post-pandemic era, and the way we circulate and create artwork will be different from before. For me, going abroad used to be a common way to circulate my work internationally. Now I am turning to the countryside, which has the same simplicity and wisdom as that of many European cities. Only in a simple place can we generate mutual strength. Our plan is still to do everything we can to go to the villages and to Hope Primary School. I am not trying to change these people and places with art, rather they are changing and shaping me.
 Editor’s note: Wǔtiáo rén is a duo band based in Haifeng county, Canton.
An independent artist living in Guangzhou, China, founded Ergao Dance Production Group in 2014, located near Yang Ji metro station.