Shi Jian (Time)

by Daniela Beltrani

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Shi Jian (Time)
18 September 2014
International Performance art tour from Beijing to Anyang 2014
Linzhou Wen Hua Guan (Linzhou Cultural Centre)
Photo credit: Sophia Natasha Wei

Under the metal and glass dome, dusty sand covered the ground. I was dressed in my customary cotton black gipsy skirt, black strappy top and black cotton wushu shoes. As I prepared for the performance, I serendipitously found a grey brick that could serve me both as writing surface and platform I could stand on. Behind me a cement stage. I placed the brick in front of it. On it I laid down the towel, the brush and the small dark ceramic bowl filled with ink. The unpleasant smell of the ink was befitting to the dirty and disused space. The glass vase full of water was in front of the brick, towards the audience that was slowly gathering in the space. I closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths. I opened my eyes and began the performance by picking up the brush and holding it vertically, as instructed. I slowly started the sequence of strokes that would eventually make up the ideogram shí jiān, time. Once I completed it, I picked up the towel, stepped onto the brick that – to my surprise - under my weight became unstable. I stood there for a few seconds, holding the towel vertically high in front of me, so that my face became concealed. I slowly turned to my right and proceeded to complete a 360˚ rotation, whilst playing with the unsteadiness of the brick suffering noisily under my weight. Once I returned to the initial position, I bent over and let the towel be completely submerged in the water. As I looked at the process of dissolution of the excess of ink into the liquid, a sense of calm beauty fell upon me. I hoped the audience could see what I was seeing. I lingered. I then slowly moved upwards holding the towel in front of me. The ideogram had become a blur of vertical lines, whilst water was dripping heavily from the bottom. I stood there for what my arms felt like a very long time, but perhaps it was no more than 20 minutes. I could clearly see the drops gathering from the edges of the towel to the middle section and fall at a progressively yet irregularly slower pace. I decided not to see the drops any longer, but to feel them on my face. I closed my eyes and raised my arms directly above my head. I experienced temporary relief for my arms as I changed their position. I stood there and sensed the dripping getting sparser and sparser after increasingly extended intervals. At one point I felt the performance was complete, like a circle. I lowered the arms, stepped down from the brick and in namaskāra mudrā I thanked my audience.


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on 26/3/15
JamesC said:
The Waterwheel Team thanks you for contributing to HOT WATER — Water, Peace & War. We were delighted with the number of responses to the call — 140 contributions from about 70 people! All the works are viewable on the Media Centre. Selected contributions will be highlighted for discussion in two online panels on the Tap at Congratulations, this contribution is amongst those chosen for the first panel. We hope that you will be able to make it to one or both of the panels.