So what about art?
(Written by Marlies)
Before I left the Netherlands, I tried to think about what I wanted to create during my stay in Dalian. I thought it would be good to have a concept beforehand because of the short amount of time I am able to make new work. Soon I realised that I was going to have so many new experiences and influences that it is impossible to stick to a pre-conceived concept. The basic concept I wanted to work with is a working with local materials that are used for every day use and make an installation, a ‘field’, covering the floor of the exhibition space.
What do you bring to an artist in residence when you have only a rough idea of what you will create? I figured that China has shops too, so most of the materials I could buy on location. That left me with 3 tools: 2 pliers and 1 pair of good scissors.
In the work I am creating at the moment, several different elements of my experiences here in Dalian flow together. Three totally different elements as it is: disciplinary precision, total chaos and elegance. Every morning when we wake up, the children of the school across the museum are having football lessons. All the children are standing in formation on the field, doing practise with a football per person. The whole thing is organized with precision and the children are following the commands of 1 person with a megaphone. The same ‘standing in formation’ you see with the older people who are dancing and doing Tai Chi in the evening at the museum, doing exercise moving as one. The traffic on the other hand seems to have no rules. For the foreign eye it looks like everybody is trying to get to their destination as fast as possible, no matter how. I can’t get my head around how it is possible that all the cars are scratchless. It’s like birds, they move so fast in big groups but they never touch each other. Also the streets are perfectly clean, but if smells would have a colour it would be a total different place. Disciplinary precision and total chaos.
And then there is this elegance, beautiful colours, amazing sea views, eating your food with chopsticks, the architecture, hills which are changing into autumn coloured seas of trees and the kindness of the people. Yesterday we went to a tea ceremony (organised by mr. Wang from the Dalian Art museum). I was touched by the elegance, integrity and peacefulness. By the way they expressed the connection between people and nature, just by drinking and sharing tea.
The process of making art started with materials. The struggle began with experimenting with paper, iron wire and glue. This ended up in a sticky mess and some big frustrations. The next phase consisted of making constructions with noodles, which also was not getting to the point I wanted to be.
Meanwhile Ella and I were getting used to our surroundings, doing groceries and preparing meals in our kitchen. Every bag I opened contained more bags of food. Bags in bags, plastic and more plastic. At home we always separate our plastic from the other garbage (or maybe it is the other way around). And I realised that Ella and I were creating so much waste in a short time.
This was the moment that my artist in residence became the process of the installation itself. I decided to re-use all the soft waste plastic in my work.
The work consists of a big field of tree-/ branchlike objects. The plastic is giving the branches all kinds of different colours and an identity. They are standing in formation, like the children playing football, there is an order to it, but there are arms, legs and footballs sticking out everywhere. Precision and chaos, combined with the elegance of nature. Three weeks to go to the opening of my exhibition and the process is going on…