2018 was the year of a new China in my life. I came to live in China again, this time in Guangzhou. Surprisingly I found a very well developed and livable city, until the moment I wanted to create something. Living in an authoritarian society is not easy and I had a taste of it. Even though many things happened, I’m still here. So, I’ve done a short visual retrospective around my creative life in the year I’ve left behind:
– In March I did my first Butoh work in Guangzhou at a highway underpass in Ersha Island.
– In June I presented the first phase of my Photo-performance project “Pride Chinese Style” at the gallery of the Mexican Consulate in Guangzhou, with photographs and a performance mixing Tango and Butoh. We also gave a second performance in July.
The website of the whole project: https://gustavothomasteatr.wixsite.com/pridechinesestyle
– In July I started a Photo-performance project with my colleagues of “Humedad Expansiva” in Mexico City aimed for an audiovisual festival in November, doing a live streaming video Butoh performance from China to Mexico. We documented the first streaming transmitted from the South China Botanical Garden in Guangzhou. The project finally didn’t get the support from the Mexican government.
– In August an article I wrote about my encounter with Butoh and my first masters was published in the Mexican magazine Interdanza, thanks to the invitation of Haydé Lachino.
The link to the magazine number: https://archive.org/details/RevistaInterdanza54_201808/page/n13
-In August too I went to Java in Indonesia and performed two Butoh improvisations, one at some rice-field terraces and another one at Sewu, a Buddhist temple inside the Prambanan temple complex.
-In October I had everything ready for a series of performances of my Butoh work “Languid Bodies” at the Watermelon Theatre in Guangzhou, but the day of the first presentation the police arrived and closed the theatre, banning the performance. The reason? That it allegedly was an LGTBQ art work, and therefore not in accordance with China’s values. Even though they were mistaken and there was no LGBTQ content, there was nothing I could do to save the presentations. Luckily for me Chinese photographer Xu Shenghua was at the final rehearsal and documented my presence in Guangzhou through many amazing images.
The website of the work: https://gustavothomasteatr.wixsite.com/languidbodies
The website of the photographs taken by Xu Shenghua: https://gustavothomasbutohblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/photographies-shot-by-xu-shenghua-of-my-butoh-work-languid-bodies-in-guangzhou/
– Days later, also in October, I “escaped” to South Korea and performed three Butoh improvisations at marvelous Seoraksan National Park: One at the top of a mountain, one near a simple natural spot, and the third one at the Buddhist temple where I was staying.
– In November I continued my Photo-performance project in Guangzhou, this time with a photo session around the famous Cantonese dress known as Qipao or Cheongsam, posting the results of this exploration in the website of the project.
The webpage with this phase of the project: https://gustavothomasteatr.wixsite.com/pridechinesestyle/qipao
-Finally, in December I travelled to Sichuan Province’s Mount Emei, one Buddhism’s four sacred mountains in China, at which summit I performed a very simple photo Butoh session by some solitary corners of the main temple.
2019 looks mysterious to me, with hidden possibilities about what I may do in China with all the censorship around; but luckily, there are many other points of encounter around the world and some windows are bound to open for me.