Intrusion is a multi-media installation that originated when Van Dyck was invited for a three day funeral ceremony guided by He XiuDong, a Dongba shaman priest from Lijiang, Yunnan province, Southwest China, during a residency at Lijiang Studio. It addresses the relationship between the spirit world and the natural world, as well as the tropes that reveal the traffic between art and anthropology, such as appropriation, materiality, and texture, and the way in which this is part of discourses of power and containment. Intrusion consists of the video Extrusion, audio piece I Thought I Validated Your Existence?, and an embroidered patchwork Fieldnotes, or An Empirical Reflection on Someone’s Lived Experience that Became Unrelated to the Source.
Video by Hanne Van Dyck
Vocals and instruments by He Xiudong, recorded by Yasuhiro Morinaga
Video 09:30 min
Extrusion depicts He Xiudong’s childhood bedroom which houses different realities of his life; a combination of sacral elements of his work as a Dongba priest, as well as elements that are witnesses of the poverty of life in the remote mountain village where he grew up.
Dongba play a major role in Naxi culture and preach harmony between man and nature. Globalization is carrying to the formerly remote communities of the foothills of the Himalaya a series of economic, political and social transformations. Changes in the way of life lead the people to loose the references to which most of their old culture is related. While the Naxi have cherished a sentiment that related their lives to one land and a common heritage, the introduction of modern medicine changed forever the traditional concept of sickness, as well as the pivotal role of Dongba in Naxi communities.
The historic and World Heritage-listed town of Lijiang has been transformed from a relatively isolated town to a major domestic and international tourist destination. Instead of showing the Dongba performing rituals in a traditional costume, Extrusion paints an intimate portrait of the Dongba priest by showing a single shot video of his childhood bedroom. The music is He Xiudong performing a Chant about the Origin of Naxi Culture, followed by a Chant for Love Suicide.
I Thought I Validated Your Existence?
Video 17:48 min
I Thought I Validated Your Existence? explores the border zones between art and anthropology by addressing forms of presentation and of looking at each other. Jay Brown is the director/curator of artist residency Lijiang studio, and often brings artists in contact with He Xiudong. or vice versa By showing Extrusion to He Xiudong and asking for his permission to 'own' it as an art work, while employing Brown as the translator/moderator, the conversation inevitably addresses Lucy Lippards question, “who exploits whom for what and why?”
Recorded in He Xiudong's house in Lijiang on July 14, 2018.
Fieldnotes, or An Empirical Reflection on Someone’s Lived Experience that Became Unrelated to the Source
Embroidery on patchwork 364 x 260 cm
Fieldnotes, or An Empirical Reflection on Someone’s Lived Experience that Became Unrelated to the Source is a patchwork of fabrics with hand-embroidered notes taken at the funeral where He Xiudong was asked to perform rituals for the deceased. Dongba conduct religious rituals, dances and readings on request of the community to appropriate the spirits. Seeds, rice, dried plants, and incense are embroidered onto the fabrics as a reference to the Naxi's funeral preparations, in which the body gets wrapped into different layers of cotton, silk, and hemp fabric and sacrifices are offered. As well as symbols of Dongba scripture from manuscripts that were literally thrown in the artist's lap during the visit. Dongba symbols are a system of pictographic glyphs used for recitation of ritual texts.
"At a funeral, I surveyed this scene with despair and alienation. I could not help thinking that I had little in common with this disheveled people, and that what they loved about life I did not live."
- Eric Mueggler, Songs for Dead Parents p205
Thanks to Lijiang Studio, Jay Brown, He Xiudong, and Lucy Lippard for the titles