ARTIST: John Kormeling
ARTWORK/YEAR: Anyway (203 ongoing)
REGION: East and Southeast Asia
RESEARCHER: Zhang Shangzhi

The Wuzhen Theatre Festival is a local development project sponsored by Chen Xianghong, Huang Lei, Lai Shengchuan, and Meng Jinghui, organized by Cultural Wuzhen Co., Ltd. The Wuzhen Theatre Festival consists of special guest repertoires, youth competitions, ancient town carnivals, and small town dialogues (forums, summits, workshops, reading sessions, exhibitions). With the 1300-year-old town of Wuzhen as the stage, global theater lovers and life dreamers are invited to experience the carnival of the soul in the beautiful Wuzhen. This project aims to prosper the drama industry, cultivate creative talents for theatre, raise the artistic level of dramatic works, and expand the market for theatre. Wuzhen Theatre Festival aims to strengthen international drama exchanges, develop and prosper domestic drama culture, and realize the renaissance of the Jiangnan small town.

The Anyway, a mechanical device created by the artist Johann Koumelin, is an artwork on the Sun Moon Square in the Xizha Scenic Area where Wuzhen Theater Festival is located. The work consists of a circular ground with a diameter of 2.5 meters that sometimes rotates counterclockwise and stops sometimes. While walking, the audience inadvertently set foot on the mechanical installation and experienced the visual impression of changing the scene. Kommerin said that in the direction of the work, eight possibilities were proposed, but due to technical limitations, the work can only achieve two possibilities.

During the exhibition, visitors will stand up, or dance on it, and with the rotation of the round ground, there will be an interesting interaction between tourists and art works. Whether it can provide participants with an interesting interactive experience is the artist's greatest expectation of the artwork.

Utopia is human being’s expectation of ideal society as well as the spiritual sustenance of human history, and moreover it is one of the important motivations to change the status quo and open a better future. John Kormeling’s mechanical device Anyway echoes the theme of utopia · heterotopia in Wuzhen theatre festival. The evolution of Wuzhen in history is represented through the interaction between works and audience as well as the variation of the works in the real sites.

The whole closed scenic spot of Wuzhen can be considered as a kind of utopian experience that people here are insulated from the real world. When tourists inadvertently enter this work, the space will shift in direction as the device system moves slowly. As for tourists, they will feel a shift from the utopian space to heterotopia space or the visual impression of the spatial shift between different directions. The artistic creation and representation of John Kormeling complete the whole artistic practice by the participants’ experience in time and space in the process of the constant spatial displacement and turning.

From the perspective of the moral of the work Anyway, audience’s entry into the work is actually a kind of leave (It is also means that audience leave their original position to enter a new kind of spatial and visual change.) In addition, stepping out of the work also refers to a kind of entry. (It means that audience steps into the new space.) In the process of movement and pause, the shift of space, vision and landscape all can establish the strong interactive linkage between audience and the works of art, which can make every audience who participates in this work feel the immersive shift and better realize and feel Wuzhen.

The selection of the project follows the principle of "Ancient Art with Collocation Pioneer Art", mainly through the contrast between Wuzhen's environment and the content in it, to create a different kind of township vitality. Therefore, the organizers invited 40 well-known artists and groups from home and abroad, and were funded by the organizers of Wuzhen Theatre Festival. This also determines the selection principle (or creation theme) of the projects created by artists. : Relying on local culture, creating cutting-edge, pioneering works of art.

Image Credits: Zhang Shangzhi

All copyright belongs to Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, Shanghai University.

Progress Agency