Site：The 2nd Xian International Performance Art Festival, Xian, China.
I was the 11th artist to carry out a performance that day (I’ve intentionally asked the organizer to put me towards the end), Polaroid photographs of the audience gazing at the the performances by the ten artists before me were taken by me and placed in a sealed transparent bag, with the date and time of the performances labeled on them.
When it was my turn to be gazed at (not when the performance was starting, but when the gazing was starting), I showed up with my back to the audience, and through a mirror reflection, I gazed at each audience as they also gazed at me. I turned around and shut the door a few minutes later, with the mirror disappearing with the closed door. I then gazed at the audience from the front, as I looked at them and they looked at me in silence for several minutes.
Polaroid photographs were then taken of the gazing audience. While this photograph was developing, photographs of previously captured gazes were placed on the door in order. Lastly, the last photograph taken was placed in a transparent bag, with the date and time labeled and pasted on another door at the same horizontal height. I then opened the door and left. The audience was then left staring at their former gazing looks pasted on the doors.
This artwork investigates the looks of the audience during performances. The documenting of the audience gazing at each performing artist began prior to my turn to perform before the crowd. Corresponding to the body of the performer, a dynamic space was composed based on the collective gaze of the audience, with a space for independent existence created by the performer, as this space was continuously sustained through the collective gaze of the audience.
I had my back to the audience when it was my turn to be gazed upon. We could only see each other in the mirror. The looks alone were hard enough to decipher, which were made more complex through the mirror reflection. Amidst the still silence, I took turn and looked at the serious gazes on each audience, as they stared at me. What were we looking at, exactly? What were we expecting? How did the audience anticipate my body? And how did I stray from this anticipation, as I put my physical body on site? Through gazing, they were waiting for the emergence of a body; however, this body turned out to be also “a gaze”. When I had my back towards them, I was an elusive being. To the audience, when I turned around and looked at them directly, that was when my body emerged. As the body emerged, it gazed at the 40~50 people before it but kept its silence. A Polaroid photograph was then unexpectedly snapped at the audience. As they waited, they kept gazing, but, without warning, this performance then ended abruptly. I shut the metal door behind me and departed, leaving behind the audience gazing at their won gazes, as I disappeared behind the door. In the end, who was the performer of this performance? What are the expectations placed on performance sites and performers?