Client: Queens Council on the Arts
Location: New York, NY, United States
Completion date: 2018
SHED is an interdisciplinary installation, performance, and interactive audience experience that uses movement, sculpture, sound, and light to reveal hidden textures and colors, creating dialogue on the collective migrant experiences.
Three (3) tetrahedrons (7’x7’x7’) made of armature and wrapped in plaster-coated canvas are large enough to allow one dancer within each structure. As the dancers move the piece from within, the outer layer cracks, revealing UV-sensitive layers beneath the plaster surfaces. As the piece progresses, the sculptures crack more and more, revealing a glowing interior that was hidden at the start.
In this installation performance, the artists aimed to present a long and tedious process of change. Shedding our defenses to get to know someone or a culture unfamiliar is not easy. The process of shedding can be frustrating and confusing. However if we give it time and faith, the long-held breath would be thoroughly exhaled. Furthermore, the human effort of making the change is celebrated in this piece.
Queens Botanical Garden is a hidden gem in New York City. Hosting a cross-discipline experimental installation performance at an overlooked local botanical garden seems to be unexpected. The alien environment created through the black light in the garden and the fundamental crystal structures turn the familiar human form into that of a universal essence, asking audience to reexamine their perspective on traditional forms and their relationship to color. This is another layer of the wonder and confusion we want to present. Would people trust the community enough to walk into the space? Would people be open to the unfamiliarity?
The creative team included three dancers including the principal dancer, XiaoChuan Xie, two visual artists who made the tetrahedrons, one lighting designer, and one sound designer. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of the work, all artists worked together from the very beginning of the project. The visual artists have made many versions of the tetrahedrons to arrive to the final model in terms of the structure, the fabric material and the mix ratio of plaster and neon paint. The lighting designer has drawn and experimented with many lighting layouts in relationship with the sculptures and dancers. The dancers have been through many experimental phases of how to move from inside of the tetrahedron and how to use their bodies to crack the plaster for creating different outer-layer patterns. Throughout the process, XiaoChuan Xie was in touch with every member, overseeing a collaboration and ensuring that the piece fit harmoniously with its natural surroundings.
Commissioned by QCA Art Commissioning Program, the piece was inspired by XiaoChuan Xie's experience as a Chinese-born immigrant artist who came to this country for its freedom of expression. It used dance, sculpture, costumes, and light to reveal hidden textures and colors, creating dialogue on the collective migrant experience.