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Unit 3 - Contexts | Reflection about  “I found a dead bird”

With River Cao

"I found a dead bird" is a live performance with the theme of mourning ceremony, derived from river cao's sad thoughts when his marginalized queer identity was resurrected in the waters of southern China. As a body's identity is prophetically revealed with an eerie sense of well-being, private landscapes, ghosts, and connections between mourners are read out, and flutes and bells guide the journey.

"I found a dead bird" reminds me of John the Dragon, Anna May Wong and Japanese rituals. The typical image of Anna May Wong is an oriental image with high cheekbones, short straight hair, willow eyebrows, and red lips, while Zunlong reminds me of the androgynous dress in "Madame Butterfly". Although the performers are Chinese, the sacrifice scene at the beginning reminded me of Japanese sacrifices, in order to distinguish the difference between Japanese sacrifices and Chinese sacrifices. 


(I went out of my way to look up information about Japanese rituals and Chinese rituals. In Chinese sacrifices, the ancestors are on the left and the shrine is on the right. The ancestral temple is on the left of the emperor's palace, and the altar on the right is the right shrine. They are divided into sacrificial offerings to nature and people. Those who offer sacrifices to natural gods are altars, while those who offer sacrifices to people are ancestral halls or temples. )


I find the mourning stick carried by the leader of River Performance Art to be intriguing. These are elements I typically do not incorporate into my artistic repertoire, as traditional Chinese cultural norms often emphasize the avoidance of symbols or elements that carry negative connotations of bad luck.The mourning stick is a stick used to buy road forks for the dead. In fact, it is a stick used to clear the way for the undead. For example, when the emperor was traveling and civilians were attending funerals, they would all give way. The mourning stick has the function of suppressing evil and driving away ghosts and monsters. If you see any monsters, you should avoid them as soon as possible. The mourning stick is the same as buying road money, it allows the souls of the dead to pass easily.Another meaning is that filial sons are generally sad, and some even suffer from physical weakness, so they use crutches to help them move around. Later, Dali found that using a crutch was enough to express the depth of grief, so he formed a rule that every filial son must have a crutch, which is a mourning stick. 


I particularly cherished the segment where River recited poetry; it immersed me deeply in the cinematic experience. The interplay of lighting, costumes, and makeup transported me to a bygone era, resembling the ambiance of classic cinema. River's attire was notably striking, resembling a human spine extending from the north to the ground. River exhibited a clever fusion of diverse elements throughout, evident in character makeup, styling, and atmosphere.


Similarly, River's performance reminded me of a concept I proposed while preparing for the Summer Show in the realm of performance art. However, upon reflection, I'm grateful I didn't invest time in unfamiliar areas.


Before my performance art topic was "Balancing Life and Exploring Your Inner Hedonist". I'd put on a mask, get dressed up, and take the subway at night to someplace with no destination. On the subway, I will enjoy my own space and time, and do everything to relax and enjoy myself. I will use some props and masks, or some makeup and fake hair to let the audience and myself quickly enter the role. I will rehearse several times before the official shooting to ensure a smooth shooting. But if something unpredictable happens, I may also put it In the video, sometimes some easter eggs are also a good choice. 


Before this, I performed the performance art of Snail House. From the initial research to prop production, rehearsal, shooting, and editing, I will learn different knowledge in every step. I think as long as I do it, I will know something. However, I still pay more attention to the audience's feedback and my own experience in the whole process. These two points are very important to me. I can always reflect on these two points and gain experience. As for the challenge, I think many unpredictable factors in the shooting are challenges to existing ideas, and breaking the rules is sometimes a good way. 


In this regard, I am somewhat similar to River. We will research and share existing materials, and discuss the artworks before, during and after shooting. But I also really like to observe the changes in the expressions of the audience while watching the video. Maybe before performing performance art, we will research similar issues, such as using questionnaires to research different audiences. After performing performance art, we will also conduct research in the same way and interview different audiences. Give feedback.


Previous mask making process and shooting sketches.

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