“Vision of…” Performance Lecture by Yang Zi

Part of Pity Party, exhibition curated by Yang Zi

April 11th, 2018

Approaching in silence, suddenly brakes. Woke up haunted.

At the second half of the night, many of them toss and turn, eyes wide open, like a fresh caught tuna. Living in this boundless metropolis, they are scattered around like stardust into the city’s endless darkness rendered with artificial lights. “Some bad shit is about to happen,” they reckon. The thought strikes, their brainwave the snapping courier of consciousness strikes, however fast, cannot get through the roaming engine sounds of the city, nor penetrates the raving (raging) hormones, drowned by Wi-Fi signals of all rainbow colors, absorbed then disappears into the frequency of this ungentle night, CHUGGA chugga chugga CHUGGA poco loco chugga chugga CHOO CHOOOOOO. What a pity! Signals were sent, so many zeros and ones, only to have their own egos echo back.

Those whom are often unjustifiably labeled as the Cynics, might just be the sensitive ones. Still an unflattering term, one which they would never agree to, because “being sensitive” sounds like paranoid. It draws unwanted attention and superficial relation to amitriptyline, or X-files. “Some bad shit is about to happen,” they mumble quietly while prophesying boldly. The world is shrinking and sinking, every bit and part that once was a whole, has now turned against each other with raging gaze. Peasants chose to forget how expensive to stay alive; chose to constantly be chasing progress. As being progressive is now the magical currency to procure a sense of security, a necessity for survival. They might say, it is the acceleration of forgetfulness that’s causing this apocalyptic future.

Only an idealistic idiot daydreams about getting different results from relentlessly running the same trial. DREAM. Searching on Xiami music (as my VPN becomes ever more unstable), 94521 songs are found using the keyword “dream”, 29323 for “fantasy”, and 23498 for “vision”. In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, the pathetic prisoners had to delightfully waste their entire existence sitting in front of the blank wall, without knowing that all their senses of truth are fabricated in a shadow cast onto a theatre of collages, of mismatched fictional nonsense. As the destination is only ludicrous until destiny brings one to it, one could also argue it is pointless to proclaim the sense of true or false. Meanwhile, we have lost the ability to differentiate truth from its false reflection. The disguise came from familiarity, as our world is constructed with images, with memes, and screens as enforcers.

There is not much hope to be heard in the song itself. Yet it is said to have “inspirational” power. Like many soul music, it stores memories of despair. Despair is the source of energy, unquestionable discipline that defied questioning. Because it’s forceful, because it well knows people’s minds of despair, there is not much “love” to be heard in the song. People prick up their ears, losing about themselves in music. The singer is the magnet, and like iron filings, people were drawn to her. While there are always iron filings that resist the magnetite. People hope, in vain, to transcend the law of gravity, replacing the magnet, replacing the sun, replacing the origin of the sound. Like trapped beasts in a cage, these “iron filings” tear and bite at the metal slats, howling, releasing anger. This is the other side of that song. People do not need to travel afar. Prep a passport and EVUS, wait in line, get on a plane, enjoy the radiation, enjoy the terrible in-flight lunch, enjoy neck pain, while mind completely occupied with the glorious tragedy of a plane crash, and if there’s a difference between “lavatory” and “restroom.” For those trapped beasts who live in the present, “the distant place” is an adult fairy land, a place far-far away where they store their last hope and dream. Yet the distant place is not necessarily as one wishes. “Some bad shit is about to happen.” This sentence is far more violent than it sounds. Far more.

“Love” is described as a mysterious thing, many think. Sleepiness rises gradually, just like the rising sun, whose radiance is destined to be obstructed by the skyscrapers. This is not a sleep-inducing song. The female singer has a high, sharp voice, wishing to cut through the skin of the invisible monster in the air. The female singer recorded her voice in her teens, completely unaware of what her future holds: Marriage, divorce, remarriage, divorce. She goes through ups and downs. At her villa in Aspen, there are five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a wood-burning fireplace and two living rooms, and a 100-inch flat-screen TV. Everything is shiny, everything is glowing. With these, she can finally stay under the constant gaze of others forever. For this she much yearns. People look at her, people no longer listen to her, people stare at her. People pick up cellphones, open web pages, looking intently. Then, people gradually get tired, bored. The noisy dream turns into a stale joke.

On the bad days, she stays idle, burning the tongs red, or watches the sky drizzle. She opens her big mouth, soft, undulating verses flow down the river, listening to the harp on the lake, the song of the dying swan, the rustling of leaves falling on the ground, the sound of the pure virgin floating up to Heaven and the eternal Father preaching in the Sacred Valley. She feels bored, but won’t admit it, sorrow becomes a habit at first, and then, because of pride, continuing to grieve. In the end, strangely, she found peace, no sadness in her heart, just like there’s no wrinkles on her forehead.

“Love” is like a rose-colored big bird, flying only in the golden glow of a poetic sky. She can merely carefully sing about “love,” or loudly roar “love.” This is out of reverence and fear for “love.” Of course, for an instant of one-thousandth of a second, she also suspected that “love” is very likely to not exist. Many finally relaxed their vigilance, fell asleep, or died, no matter how bad things are going to be. Their tightened nerves need to rest once in a while. Twice. Thrice. The world is shrinking, sinking, each part glaring at one another. People choose to forget how expensive life is. People need to make progress. Progress is like a currency that can exchange for the sense of security. It’s a necessity. They perhaps think that all this should be blamed on people forgetting too fast. They temporarily forget about people’s forgetfulness. “The forgetfulness of peasants”, they think.

In dreamland, they return to the long-unvisited place once called home. Inside that warm cave, they remember it all at once. On that day, a man with hale and hearty eyes came among them, began to speak loudly of the clear light, the indescribable happiness, and called them “prisoners.” Truth, idols, and archetypes. And they, angry and not willing to leave home, started to talk about the strange death of a group of monkeys:

There once were five hundred monkeys wandering in the forest. All arrived under a big tree. There was a well under the tree and a reflection of the moon appeared in the well. The then monkey leader saw the reflection, and said to its companions: Now that the moon died and fell in the well, we should get it out together to prevent the long nights of the world from being dark. The monkeys discussed together, wondering how to get it out. The then monkey lord said: I know a method to get it out. I hold onto the branch. You hold onto my tail. As such, we connect with each other and can get the moon out. Then, the monkeys, as its lord said, connected with each other. The tree is weak and the branch broke. All monkeys fell into the well water.

Until now, everything is great. They have the upper hand, intellectually and morally. Only that later, the man with hale and hearty eyes were executed.

On the first few days they cried very sadly. Those who cannot adapt to darkness should not be put to death. Enlighteners should not be put to death. They should live in eternal debate, refutation, and listening. Like a pot of boiling porridge. They used the hair of the deceased to weave into a picture of mourning, wrote a letter. The letter is full of sorrows and sadness toward life, and demanded that they be buried in the man’s tomb after death. They were secretly proud, feeling that they unexpectedly grasped the darkness of life so easily, while the ordinary soul can rarely enter this ideal realm in a lifetime. At this point, her voice, like the ringing of an alarm clock, suddenly sounded again. Louder and louder. They can’t avoid waking from the dream, can’t escape every repetitive, reincarnated day.

It’s about time anyways. It’s just right.

“Vision of…” 表演性讲座-杨紫