I am delighted to present Chun Hua Catherine Dong for our next Artist Feature. I was led to Dong's work through previously featured artists Preach R. Sun and Poppy Jackson. Both Sun and Jackson acknowledged Dong as inspirational to their performance practice.
Chun Hua Catherine Dong presents provocative performances that explore her personal identity as a Chinese-born female currently living and working in Canada. Chun Hua's opposing experiences as a resident in both communist and democratic nations commonly establish the framework for her performances. She also investigates the blurred boundaries between public and private and considers her body a vessel for political action.
For this week's Artist Feature, Chun Hua discusses her perception toward ritual, the blur between life and performance and recalls her first performative experience. Enjoy! -Quinn Dukes
Quinn Dukes: What led you to performance art?
Chun Hua Catherine Dong: I think it was during my sculpture class when I was at my undergraduate school. I made an object that looked very boring and didn’t look like I spent much time to make it at all. I was thinking about ways to make the object look more interesting, I thought maybe I could do some actions with the object. So I did, I put this object around my body and engaged with it, without knowing what performance art was. I just felt that the actions were more expressive than painting. (Well, I originally wanted to be a painter when I went to university.) The experience was absolutely liberating. I felt that finally I found a way to express myself.
QD: Are there performance artists working today that inspire your practice?
CHCD: Yes, there are many, such as Santiago Cao, Joseph Ravens, Gilivanka Kedzior, Lee Wen, Sakiko Yamaoka, Rocio Boliver, Miao Jiaxin…. there are so many that I wish I could list all of them. But I must say the first performance artist who inspired me was Marina Abramovic. I know many people don’t like what she does now, but I still want to say that she is the one who inspired me the most when I started performance. Many of her works speak to me. Maybe it is because we both have a Communist background.
QD: Does ritual inspire you performance work?
CHCD: That is a good question, I am not sure ritual inspires my work, it makes me think about religions, but I guess that is a narrow way to understand ritual. But in a broader sense, yes, ritual inspires my performance.
QD: Can you discuss the blur between performance and life?
CHCD: I guess that blurring “boundaries between performance and art” or “between art and life” is a goal that many artists seek. Performance has capability to blur the boundaries because it is live art that can happen at any place and any time - with or without audiences.
Performance is an attitude, a situation rather than a style. We often say that “life is a performance,” but we rarely say that “performance is life.” Performance is a representation of life, and life can be a performance if one allows it to be, but this also depends on how much one lets into one’s life.
Chun Hua Catherine Dong will perform in the following U.S. based performance art events:
SELECTED WORKS BY CHUN HUA CATHERINE DONG
All images are provided courtesy of the artist
links to performances:
1. Pregnancy 2. The Double 3. After Olympia 4. I Want You To Want Me 5. The Yellow Umbrella – An Unfinished Conversation 6. Between Reality and Transcendence 7. Visual Poetics of Embodied Shame – The State of Grace