Richard Layzell Blog » Talking to Tania ResCen: Centre for Research into Creation in the Performing Arts Fri, 13 Dec 2013 17:59:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A transaction involving cigarettes Tue, 29 Dec 2009 09:22:00 +0000 Richard R I couldn’t shake it off, Tania, didn’t want to. Held on. And as Yong was with us I thought it could happen, thought he was the key.

T No-one was asking you to let it go. This was your thing, clearly, plants on the move.

R Yes, but it wasn’t really an intervention, more [...]]]> R  I couldn’t shake it off, Tania, didn’t want to. Held on. And as Yong was with us I thought it could happen, thought he was the key.

No-one was asking you to let it go. This was your thing, clearly, plants on the move.

R  Yes, but it wasn’t really an intervention, more of an event for the cameras.

T  Your ‘intervention’ terminology is flawed thinking. How can you measure your ‘social engagement’? This film footage you’re talking about could have huge impact. It probably won’t, but we don’t know yet.

R  But I’m looking for impact on the Square Mile.

T  The same applies. Your expression of interest in plants on the move may leave a lasting legacy here. It probably won’t, but we can’t predict. Get off the measurement agenda, can’t you. Did you measure your impact when you were a ’visionaire’?

R  I guess not.

T  Right. You sound reluctant about the whole thing. Like you had an end in view that didn’t come to fruition. I see this more like The Stumbling Block. Your disappointment actually makes it all the more interesting. I think it needs a name.

R  Like Plants on the Move?

T  Like Circular Energy, Feed the Feet/Feel the Heat or The Cycle. Yes, that does it, The Cycle.

R  But that was the overall title I used for the e-flier advertising these two days of interventions.

T  So? Haven’t there been other titles flying around for the individual pieces under the heading of The Cycle? Like for the river/bridge installation. Fish to the River wasn’t it? Yuk.

R  No good?

T  It’s floppy and flat. How about a title more consistent with the river dialogues with the Botanical Gardens lady, the professor and so on.

R  Got something in mind?

Getting Ready for Expo, Gold for Blue, Establishing a Bridge with Another Department.

R  Blimey.

T  It entertains me that The Cycle – under the overall heading of The Cycle – didn’t quite happen. This gives it wheels. And what did Yong have to do with it?

R  Maybe it was Flora’s idea?

T  Who’s Flora?

Flora and Yong, looking for the head man

Flora and Yong, looking for the head man

R  She was helping out, along with Clara, one of Ling Min’s students at Shanghai University, and a smoker.

T  So what was Flora’s big idea?

R  To buy a couple of packs of cigarettes to encourage the head man at the Botanical Gardens Extension to facilitate the image I couldn’t shift, didn’t want to lose. You know what it was. We got there. The camera crew helped up the ante I think. And the head man chose to play the lead. I do feel slightly awkward about the whole thing.

T  I like it. One of the best things you’ve done here. Especially pleasing that it wasn’t ‘public’ and that it ‘failed’. And the head man has a certain charisma. Did the cigarettes help?

R  I don’t know. But it was a transaction.

T  Not an intervention then.




R  By the way, why do you think people thought that was me standing on top of the recycling truck?

T  It’s no surprise to me. We need to work on your image. Leave it to me.

R  It was the caught moment of flying bottles, not a bottle-face.

T  Ok. Ok.


]]> 0 Consultation Fri, 18 Dec 2009 11:16:33 +0000 Richard R I’m feeling badly about the time lag, a bit disconnected.

T What? Like here? This?

R Well, things got busy so now this is retrospective.

T It always is retrsopective, and even was at the start in Norway, when this talking text kicked off, before blog was the terminology. That’s the nature of it. [...]]]> R  I’m feeling badly about the time lag, a bit disconnected.

T  What? Like here? This?

R  Well, things got busy so now this is retrospective.

T  It always is retrsopective, and even was at the start in Norway, when this talking text kicked off, before blog was the terminology. That’s the nature of it. The here and now is not and cannot be the word.

R  But when we began Talking to Tania in Greece in 2004 our dialogues actually influenced what happened on the ground.

T  And still do. You’re trying to be too rational about this. And frankly I don’t see this as a blog and wouldn’t have called it that, had I been consulted.

R  It was to do with the ResCen framework and a good way to run this parallel to the Beijing Danscross blog.

T  I’m not saying that it hasn’t been working well for you and you/me. I’ve even heard you say it’s been your ‘touchstone’ and all. But this is about the real, the actual, the remembered and the observed. Not about being ruled by frigging WordPress methodology to make cosy ‘links’ and get spam frigging comments like ”I really value your website”.

This is about tracking a process, developing a narrative. So the whole question of ‘retrospective’ is complete garbage, irrelevant.

R  So just carry on then?

T  Of course. Bus Station South — remembered, encountered?

R  Maybe.

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Slightly out of focus Sun, 06 Dec 2009 15:16:44 +0000 Richard T You’re back then.

R I haven’t been anywhere.

T Feels like you have.

R Just very busy.

T That old avoidance strategy.

R No. Really.

T Standing still.

R Yes. As a matter of fact.

T So how was it?

R Slightly out of focus. Slightly intimidating. Good to do. No jostling. Proved a [...]]]> T  You’re back then.

R  I haven’t been anywhere.

T  Feels like you have.

R  Just very busy.

T  That old avoidance strategy.

R  No. Really.

T  Standing still.

R  Yes. As a matter of fact.

T  So how was it?

R  Slightly out of focus. Slightly intimidating. Good to do. No jostling. Proved a point and made a move.

T  What point?

R  That this is China, where The River Flows in Many Directions at the Same Time and I would not be jostled or disturbed while the surge happened.

T  Weren’t you planning a return visit to the migrant workers’ English lesson?

R  To film. Yes, just before Standing Still.

T  And how was it?

R  They were pleased to see us. Ms Guo referred to the lesson location as ‘home’. Home under the station, behind the concrete wall, with the two mynah birds suspended outside today, out the back. We were very surprised to find my useful sentence from last time “The signposts are also in English” had been successfully integrated and was now on the blackboard, large as life.

T  Any further contact with Ms Guo back at the exquisite loo?

R  We called in after the class. She told us that the man she grabbed for the photo shoot on my first visit to her toilet was a regular customer and that he’d like a copy of the photo, if it wasn’t too much trouble.

T  He should get it laminated or in a frame if you ask me. The guy’s a legend.



Intercultural integration

Intercultural integration

standing still1standing still2standing still3standing still4standing still5

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Sometimes not Tue, 17 Nov 2009 13:44:03 +0000 Richard R It’s a day for ideas, Tania.

T I thought you already had some.

R What do you think of them?

T They’re OK. Could do with a little flesh on the carcass. The simplicity appeals, naturally. Are you trying to prove a point, though? I get that feeling. And why push the river?

R Are you quoting me?

T Maybe. How’s your coffee by the way?

R Cost [...]]]> R  It’s a day for ideas, Tania.

T  I thought you already had some.

R  What do you think of them?

T  They’re OK. Could do with a little flesh on the carcass. The simplicity appeals, naturally. Are you trying to prove a point, though? I get that feeling. And why push the river?

R  Are you quoting me?

T  Maybe. How’s your coffee by the way?

R  Cost more than the lunch.

T  Ah, the global reach of sophisticated living. Anyway, respond please.

R  I was listening to this World Service radio programme this morning about how a positive attitude can extend your lifespan by eight years.

T  Does this mean you’re going to be positive on purpose now? How dreary.

R  You may not be able to tell the difference.

T  Yuk.

R  OK. Yes. You may be right. I might be trying to prove a point about how making links with the community here can be achieved for sure.

T  You seemed almost Taurean yesterday.

R  By the way, the new shocking pink external at the junction of Shilong Road is for the Taurus Neighbourhood. We asked who made the colour decision but the guard didn’t know.

T  Sometimes not knowing is enough. Is this a trend?

R  Brighter wall colours?

T  Being evasive.

R  I’m still thawing out from the bike ride and listening to the birds in the South Square Park. There’s a biting north-west wind today.

T  Not everyone is cash rich enough to hit the cappuccino. So?

R  You want me to think about how things would look if I wasn’t trying to prove a point.

T  And took the pressure off the ecological slant. When you already have the Prof on board as resident eco. What were you saying about his roots?

R  Yes. Definitely dyes his hair. Significant grey roots on closer inspection. I did find myself admiring his untainted brunette coiffure last week.

T  So maybe grey is not OK. Yet another social faux-pas, Richard. Thinking of a quick colouring yourself?

R  Think I’ll stick to the hats.

T  Good idea.

R  I do kind of wish they weren’t Japanese though.

T  The hats?

R  Yes.

T  Why?

R  Because of the strong Japanese influence here. I experience Japan as western in this context, like Europe and the US. All to be admired (by the Chinese) on some level. And I admire a lot of what may be seen as their old-fashioned, traditional Chinese values.

T  Sounds like we’re coming round to it.

R  What?

T  Those ideas.

R  Well, you know I can’t get off the recycling theme, and don’t want to. Experiencing this constant stream of tricycles laden with discarded materials and collected for cash. It just feels so right, including the pedal power.

T  I wonder if they see it that way. Didn’t Felix say they’re just trying to make living?

R  I’d like to ask them about it, or say how I see this process.

T  They’ll think you’re some kind of business magnate no doubt.

R  I’m going to keep trying on this one, so back off please.

T  I thought you wanted my opinion. No need to get defensive.

R  OK. Go ahead.

T  I know you see some kind of intervention happening in the square mile related to these tricycle guys. And they are all guys I imagine?

R  Almost all.

T  I have a slightly sinking sense of ‘the dignity of labour’, something a little patronising even. I also get a smattering if desperation, a little ‘first thought, worst thought’? We should brainstorm.

R  And consult the I Ching.

T  And remember how everything changes with a translator on board.

Botanical Tricycle

Tricycles parked

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The satellite is off the pace Wed, 11 Nov 2009 16:03:53 +0000 Richard T You’ve been quiet.

R Two worlds intercept….

T What?

R I’ve been in Beijing for the ResCen event.

T I know. I said you’ve been quiet, not where’ve you been. So what’s it like coming back in?

R To Shanghai or the Square Mile?

T Both.

R More familiar. More engaged. Great as it [...]]]> T  You’ve been quiet.

R  Two worlds intercept….

T  What?

R  I’ve been in Beijing for the ResCen event.

T  I know. I said you’ve been quiet, not where’ve you been. So what’s it like coming back in?

R  To Shanghai or the Square Mile?

T  Both.

R  More familiar. More engaged. Great as it was to be in Beijing in the snow I started to miss the obsession with a place, this absorption. Almost felt guilty.

T  For being away?

R  Yes.

T  I understood that you thought ‘everything helps’, as you keep saying to Felix.

R  It does. I mean, seeing a bigger picture, meeting up with Simon, hearing how Artists Links worked, and that Shaw used to work for him, travelling back by train, even seeing that Beijing South Station is also a new-build….

T  Is this about time all of a sudden?

R  Probably. Four weeks from now will be some kind of climax. Thought I’d go to Caobao Road on the Metro this afternoon to do some filming?

T  Why?

R  Walking not cycling, visiting the far side of the zone. I found a green space there on a satellite map that could be promising, sort of wasteland. Would like to check it out.

T  Don’t be fixed on filming. Stills may be they way.

R  OK.

T  Where’s all this heading by the way?

R  Was going to ask you that.

T  Please do. The time has come. How was the ‘company lunch’ by the way?

R  Stunning today, the finest Won Ton.

T  Lucky you. Weather?

R  On the turn it looks. You OK?

T  Always.

Satellite view of Caobao Road showing potential green space

Satellite view of Caobao Road showing potential green space

The potential green space in the here and now

The potential green space in the here and now


Another kind of 'greening' on the other side of Caobao Road

]]> 0 The magician’s garden Mon, 02 Nov 2009 16:10:12 +0000 Richard TK Your blog is sounding a bit dreary, RL, wouldn’t you prefer a little old-school banter with yours truly?

RL Alright then Tania.

TK How was the ‘company lunch’?

RL Getting the hang of it now. Large leg of bird today, dripping with dark sticky sauces. Was hoping for more of the exquisite tofu, but [...]]]> TK  Your blog is sounding a bit dreary, RL, wouldn’t you prefer a little old-school banter with yours truly?

RL  Alright then Tania.

TK  How was the ‘company lunch’?

RL  Getting the hang of it now. Large leg of bird today, dripping with dark sticky sauces. Was hoping for more of the exquisite tofu, but this is a set menu after all.

TK  Where are you now?

RL  Back at Shanghai E Arts. They’ve been laying a stone floor in the corridor outside my room. Bit of an early start on it this morning.

TK  Sounds plush.

RL  It will be. There’s this tremendous piece of contemporary Chinese sculpture in the lobby downstairs. Have a feeling I’ve seen it before. It’s a massive wooden multi-facetted carved piece, including two Buddha faces. I like it a lot, and wonder why they put chairs around it.

TK  Did you get the bike from Felix?

RL  Yes. It’s not ideal. A bit small and wobbly, a Chinese low-budget copy of the Brampton folding bike, called Shuangzulong. I was just getting used to it when the pedal fell off. It took a while to find a mechanic, not that they aren’t everywhere, but I was half way to the Botanic Gardens when it happened. My sign language must be improving, although I suppose it was pretty obvious what the problem was. A spanner was handed over.

TK  This is beginning to sound like ‘The Day of the Moped’ back in Skyros.

RL  I thought you might say that. There were some parallels. The perception of everything here is different from a bike. And I felt much more invisible.

TK  With your nose?

RL  I said I ‘felt’ more invisible. People were still giving me the sideways look. I mean I am the only Westerner around, or ‘foreigner’ as they say here, even at Immigration.

TK  Are you saying you thought you blended in more or something? Was there something subtly performative about it?

RL  Yes. It’s contradictory I realise. And part of the reason for wanting to ride a bike across the Square Mile is that I imagine you don’t see Westerners on bikes in Shanghai, unless they’re doing some cool sporting thing. The bike here is not about fashion or status, people ride absolutely anything, completely unselfconsciously. I’m getting big on this bike theme, really.

TK  Steady on, we’re still in research mode, remember? So how did you get on at the Botanics?

RL  Not so good. The main garden is closed it seems, for this major refurbishment. The only section still open is where I was on Friday, other side of the road, the destination of the major soil excavation from the main site. But, although petite, it’s still a huge asset to the project. I saw a strange white bird with a dark head in there this morning.

TK  Mirroring perhaps?

RL  What?

TK  You must be a bit of a strange white bird yourself.

RL  Oh, the performative aspect. The market was heaving this morning. It’s right on the edge of the Square Mile. I parked up with the other bikes and walked through, consciously not being a tourist, if that’s possible.

TK  You’re in research mode.

RL  Yep. In terms of local culture it spoke loudly. This is the place to shop. People of all ages on rusty bikes and mopeds make a beeline for a mass of foodstuffs that are presumably much cheaper and fresher than in the supermarkets. And it could be locally sourced. I was reminded of Talking to Tania in Barcelona where the market experience there was perceptual and subtly performative through wielding a camera.

TK  So we may return here with a camera?

RL  I think so. Will need to check it out with Haoyun Guo in terms of etiquette and maybe he will come along. Am meeting him tomorrow.

TK  So what was the highlight?

RL  No. Following the ‘company lunch’ I made it through the 30mph bitterly cold wind to the northern end of the Square Mile and there it was, Kanglian Park, boasting 44 amenities and a welcoming notice board with a fine English translation:

Kangjian Park

Located on No 128 Kangjian Road, Kangjian Park covers an area of 95676 sq m. it was once a private farm and was built in 1937 by Bao Qinxuan, a magician (stage name: Ke Tianying) in Shanghai. The park was opened to the public on April 1, 1953 and was called Kangjian Farm in 1956 and was renamed Kangjian Park in 1958. In September, 1984, it was changed into a park for publicizing scientific knowledge with various recreational apparatus and was renamed Science Publicizing Park on May 4, 1985. It was once again renamed Kangjian Park on January 1, 1990, and two expansion were conducted in 1987 and 2000 respectively.

A Japanese-style layout is adopted for Kangjian Park: cleverly-designed landscaping, tailored ponds, vivid artificial hills and pavilions which are in picturesque disorder. You will be presented with various delightful sceneries: water and artificial hills that form delightful contrast, floating canoes on the lake, luxuriant and green woods, standing stalagmite, gorgeous peony, brilliant cherry blossom, elegant hibiscus and Japanese cabins. Sailing a canoe or driving a car on the paths, you can have a feast on your eyes with the panorama of Kangjian Park. Various flowers are contending in beauty and fascination every season, such as hibiscus, cherry blossom, peony, sweet osmanthus, banana shrub, magnolia and crape myrtle. In particular, the century-old peony is attracting many visitors from home and abroad every year!

TK  No doubt the magician has seduced you.

RL  Yes. But it was also how the park was being used. People were dancing, singing, playing the flute and the sanxian (lute), flying kites, reading the daily paper, laid out behind glass at eye level, drinking tea at ‘Charles’ Tea House’, practising Tai Chi and Xi Gong. It was a cultural feast of exemplary park usage. It made me think of how London parks might have been two centuries ago, like the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens maybe, places where people felt free to enjoy their pleasures and express themselves.


Charles' Business Club

Charles' Business Club

The kite fliers

The kite fliers

Reading the newspaper

Reading the newspaper

The 44 amenities

The 44 amenities



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