Under the collective name, katalog, Sarah Lewison and I initiated this project hosted by Lijiang Studio. Lijiang Studio is a rural art residency in Yunnan, China bringing together farmers and artists. This six-month project was inspired by appropriate technology, traditional Chinese agriculture, landscape art, ecological restoration, mycology and felicitous participatory ritual performances. Through research, agriculture, and performance we connected the farmers’ lives around the studio with a history of critical, utopian, rural activism in the United States. The project was relevant to the village and to the artists. It turned Lijiang Studio upside down into a kind of performative ‘study group’ including the artists, studio assistants, farmers, tourists, and others. The project culminated in performative picnic lunch installations of mushroom bio-remediation sculptures. The picnic included produce made in process of growing the remediation materials. Along the way we made many other live performances including improvised lab work, growing mushrooms, malting barley with solar oven, brewing beer from wild yeasts, farming, and conversations with locals.
This piece exemplifies more involved durational performance. It was a very collaborative and complex production. It shows my adaptability and extremely wide range of skills. My conceptions of performance and dramaturgy expanded to include longer time frames and more permanent and practical performative interventions. We harnessed the speculative performative mode to engage constructively with practical living. Theoretically, the project was a fuzzy convergence zone of live art, social practices, social sculpture, ecological art, ethnography, amateur science, installation, and landscape art. It was performance as an open mode of inquiry and composition involving the entire surrounds. We staged an extended critical and creative encounter – including nonhumans and landscape.