Archivo de la etiqueta: Performance

“Pride Chinese Style” Telling the story of the start of my first Photo/Butoh Project in China.

Why “Pride Chinese Style”

When I arrived to Guangzhou at the beginning of this year 2018 I was introduced almost immediately to the LGTBQ world of the region thanks to a reception the General Consul of Belgium in Guangzhou, Joris Selden, and his husband Fabio Melchiorri, gave to celebrate the beginning of a new year. At that reception I had the opportunity to meet – among many others – two very interesting Chinese personalities: Wing and Ryan, in their English names. Their stories opened to me the world of some LGTBQ organizations in the city, working with all the joy and complications that living openly as a gay person means within a culture that slowly and little by little is opening its doors to minorities.

Ryan is one of the people in charge of Zhitong, an organization that helps and gives advise mostly to members of the gay community. Wing is an energetic person who organizes a monthly LGTBQ session called Tango Queer at the Tango academy, where he learns and practices.

In China it is prohibited to make a public display of LGTBQ pride (parade, rights demonstration, gatherings without police permission). Any celebration must be in private, as it is the Tango session, or very close monitored by the government, as it is with Zhitong.

The two groups, each in its own way, offer to me a Chinese-style vision of the melting pot of colors that is the LGTBQ rainbow. They’re proud Chinese, proud of their orientation and their personal choices. They are fighters expressing their Pride in their unique ways.

I decided to start my first photo-performance project in Guangzhou with them, about them, and about the people they gather and work with, watching and analyzing their way of being LGTBQ, but from my own perspective, that of a Photo and Butoh performer man married to another man in a society like Mexico’s and who, after many years of legal and social rejection, has opened almost completely to the different possibilities of gender.

About the project

This project, which will continue to grow and develop during the three years I plan to live in Guangzhou, includes documentary photography, digital interventions and Butoh performances inspired by the daily work and life of these two groups, as well as others that may offer me access to their unique worlds and spaces. 

In this starting first phase, which I’ve called “Document”, I’m working with portraits and images that, by themselves and without further embellishment, tell us the stories of the protagonists of these two groups, Zhitong and Tango Queer, with a focus on their places, their bodies and their movements, in their simple and daily tasks and activities. There is no digital intervention yet, but a small bite of Butoh through some improvisations with Wing and Juan from the Tango Queer group.

My idea for the Butoh work in this project is what some people call “intervention”, going directly to the real places my subjects are working and do some improvisations while they are doing their daily tasks, and probably, if that works, doing a whole performance mixing my surreal Butoh performance with the real time of their normal life. Of course, working with Tango Queer was easier, as they are performers too, but more difficult with Zhitong whom members are not close to any artistic attitude. It is a risky adventure, and I’ll see how this goes.


The first show

What it was a great surprise was that the Mexican Consulate in Guangzhou gave me the opportunity to show the results of the fist phase of the project taking part of the LGTBQ month celebrations in the city. They were organizing, with many other consulates and organizations in the city, a film festival around the LGTBQ subject, so they thought it was a good moment to show my work and it really was. We prepared a photo exhibition and a Tango and Butoh improvisation for the opening. A kind of success because they asked for another show one week later.

Even I’ve built a website around the project ( Pride Chinese Style ) I’d like to share the same information and images here in my Butoh Blog, specially to keep track of it as part of my Butoh world.




Phase 1, Document, “Zhitong”

(Photographs for exhibition)


Phase 1, Document, “Tango Queer”

(Photographs for exhibtion)


Phase 1, Documents/ Butoh.

(Butoh performance preparation) *(1)



Finally some images of the two presentations we had at the gallery of the Mexican Consulate on June 21st and June 26th.  You’ll notice that the name of this exhibition was “Rainbow in Chinese Style”; the consulate asked to avoid the word “Pride” because could cause problems with Chinese authorities; I thought this was not an issue that affected the body of the project. *(2)



*(1) All photographs in this section was taken by Zangtai Taizo and processed by Gustavo Thomas.

*(2) Photographs taken by the public, by people from the Mexican Consulate and stills I extracted from a video.

Under The Bridge (Butoh/Video)

After some weeks with enormous work around our first Photoperformance exhibition in China I gave me some time to process one of the videos recorded during my Butoh improvisation under Dadao bridge in Ersha Island.

As I usually do when processing the videos of my improvs, the music you listen to was added after. It always surprises me how it can fit with the movement, giving to the performance a new, even twisted atmosphere, from the original.

If you watch this on a mobile phone screen probably the quality of some details, hands and facial gestures for example, will be lost, so I advice watching the video on a bigger screen.

Under The Bridge from Gustavo Thomas on Vimeo.

If you are in China and don’t use VPN you can watch the video on Youku: Under The Bridge

In two weeks I’ll be performing my Butoh along with two Chinese Tango dancers during the opening of my first photoperformance exhibition in China. I’ll hope to record some material and show it to you here later.

The Languid Fall (Short Extract From Languid Bodies)

Now that I’m looking for a place to perform again my Butoh and Video work ‘Languid Bodies’ in China, I recovered a video from one specific performance show in Morelia, Michoacán, México, recorded in 2016.

Even though my Butoh performances are mostly improvised (but with a defined structure), I thought a short part of this video could work as a taste for the live performance.

This short ‘The languid fall’ is part of the third (of seven) section named Violence.

The Languid Fall (Languid Bodies) from Gustavo Thomas on Vimeo.

If you are in China you can see the video on Youku:


Butoh Improvisation Under Guangzhou Dadao Bridge in Ersha Island

After three months trying to adapt myself to the Chinese city of Guangzhou, looking for a place for training and creation, I could find two or three sites around the city to perform my  improvisations.

This first one I’m talking about now was very close to my new home, in Ersha Island, under a highway bridge with exceptional perspective and bizarre good lighting, almost as if was thought to be used as a performance venue. You know me, I couldn’t resist doing something there.

I chose one Saturday evening. The heat was -at 6 pm- just bearable and I only had to fight with some mosquitoes, but my main concern actually was not the weather conditions but the police. China has a policy that prohibits any kind of public manifestation without permission from the police, permission that could never come, because of the bureaucracy or just because someone doesn’t want to have any problem asking for it to his superiors. Anyway, it was a question of luck: if the police didn’t show and the street surveillance cameras were not recording anything I could get along without any problem; but, if the police arrived then it would depend of the criteria of the guard, he would let me go with my performance or ask me to leave or even he would arrest me.

As my Butoh improvisation is not a performance organized to be public (it is just done at a public area), and I assume it is not political, my bet was, with not much risk, that I would get along with it without any altercation.

The police did arrive in the middle of my performance, but for some reason the guard just looked at me while passing by and he didn’t stop nor did anything, and walked away. So, I was lucky, the first test passed without a problem.

People passed by and stood for a little time and then went away too, some took photographs, and even a lady stopped by and started to give some advice about where to do the performance with better light while taking some photographs with her phone. What I loved was to see how some riding bicycles got attracted by what I was doing and changed their way to see better. I was all alive and fresh, exactly what I look in my Butoh improvs around the world.

I didn’t use any make up ( I didn’t want to attract much attention) or wore a thong, but I did wore some of my traditional black dresses, a net, and a Japanese mask. I put not very loud music and I stayed performing almost in the same area without doing much fuss around. I really loved the results, at least in photographic images.

We’ll see if I keep that impression after I process the video.

(Thanks, as always, to my personal cameraman Zangtai Taizo for being there once again.)

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My impressions on “Period” Natural Physical Poem. A walking-Butoh performance by Mushimaru Fujieda at Un Teatro In Mexico City.

I watched Mushimaru Fujieda’s Butoh for first time 5 hours before this performance and I can say that the difference was astonishing between one another.

At 1 pm on Saturday he presented, with the people from a short workshop he gave the day before, a Butoh demonstration at Museo Nacional de las Culturas in Mexico City Downtown and what I saw there was a very basic taste of what Butoh could be: a long slow-motion walk with a very curious, playful performer showing good skills in balance, face gestuality and very deep eyes. But five hours later at Un Teatro his performance “Period” was much more interesting and it totally showed me why he calls himself a “physical poet”.


Mushimaru Fujieda. Museo Nacional de las Culturas. Mexico City. December 2nd, 2017. (Photograph by Gustavo Thomas © 2017)


As the description of the performance says, it was an almost hour-long walking-Butoh where I could see and experience a gradual, little by little, step by step transformation from an almost empty body doing a heavy – and almost painful – slow-motion walk, into a living human being with a deep richness of images and emotions in motion within him. The first steps of the long walk were like listening to someone babbling, trying to make sense of his own universe. Working masterfully with the tempo on stage, Fujieda was carrying us, the spectators, with him in his walk. Every detail of his movement started to make sense in our own individual perception, every detail started to have a real repercussion in our inner movement like it were a peaceful contemplation or meditation. In the final part, we found ourselves immersed in the words of the recorded poem we were listening to, parts of it in English and parts in other languages, experiencing the mess of feelings and ideas he was producing and that we shared as human beings living in this time and place. In that moment, he had literally become a “Natural physical poem” for me.

Obviously, Mushimaru Fujieda, is not interested in making himself any concessions in doing a spectacular performance of his work; he never tried to trick us, the spectators, to feel another – theatrical – reality. He was basically “writing” in his own slow way, becoming with that a kind of poetic magnet on stage.

The second part of the show was an improvisation together with a very skillful guitarist, but I have to admit that I considered the first part of “Period” as the night’s most interesting.

In two weeks I’ll be taking his workshop in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, and I am very thankful I decided to do that before moving away from Mexico once more.

“Period” has one more show at Un Teatro today, Sunday, at 6 PM. There will also be another workshop and performance at the Templo Budista Ekoji (a Buddhist Temple) in the coming days here in Mexico City.

Mushimaru Fujieda came to Mexico thanks to the work of Sakiko Yokoo and Espartaco Martínez.

Gustavo Thomas (© 2017)


#Butoh #MushimaruFujieda #Performance #UnTeatro #MuseoNacionaldelasCulturas #MexicoCity #PhysicalPoet

La mariposa camina (Bitácora de trabajo)


Kazuo Ohno: “El hombre va caminando y la mariposa vuela desde el cielo a la tierra y nuevamente hacia el cielo. Me impactaba tanto su belleza que me olvidaba de ponerme la máscara. Deseaba comprobar si yo veía la mariposa del anverso o del reverso. Caminata. Camina el hombre, camina la mariposa; allí nació la vida.”  *
Image result for Butterfly walking
Desde el principio pienso en la filosofía de la transmutación dentro de la concepción creativa de Kazuo Ohno, pero tengo la seguridad que, como con la flor, no se trata de transformarme en una flor o, en este caso, en una mariposa. No sé si sea asumirla o dejarme poseer por su imagen en mi.
Estando de pie tuve la imagen de una -mi- mariposa volando, buscando no seguirla con los ojos, sino sabiéndola ahí, usando sus alas; mi cuerpo reaccionando libre, con la mariposa en mi cuerpo, adentro volando, en mis pies posándose y entrando a mí.
Este cuerpo -inmensamente pesado para una pequeña mariposa- no puede volar pero ella lo mueve, hace volar mis ojos y mis pensamientos, a veces mis dedos de las manos y hasta las manos mismas. Esta mariposa es ya la dueña de mi movimiento y no sé cuándo llegaron sus alas a ser mías o cuándo se fueron de mí; tuve antenas y el color de mi cuerpo fue como el color de su camuflaje natural.
Descubrí que no deseo ser la mariposa, que ese no es mi objetivo; en la fascinación que ejerce en mí me transforma parte por parte y nunca sería yo toda ella entera. Sigo siendo el hombre que camina, en esa pesada gravedad imposible de olvidar, y vivo la mariposa que camina con estos mis enormes pies pesados.
Mi vuelo está presente, a veces en mis alas, a veces solo en mi sonrisa o en mis labios.
Cuando camina mi yo hombre camina también la mariposa.

*(Extractos de la autobiografía de Kazuo Ohno en “Kazuo Ohno, el último emperador de la danza” de Gustavo Collini.)

Fotografía: Kazuo Ohno. Admirando a la Argentina. Foto por Emidio Luisi.

(Estos textos son parte de mi bitácora de trabajo de entrenamiento diario. En mi estudio los escribo a partir de lo que leo, recuerdo y exploro; en donde la filosofía de la vida y la práctica del arte me mantienen a flote en el proceso de creación de una personal concepción práctica del Butoh.)

#Butoh #KazuoOhno #transmutación #técnicadeButoh #mariposa

A una semana del performance de “Humedad Expansiva”

A una semana de presentar nuestro performance me es inevitable que me pregunte: ¿Qué estoy haciendo ahí como artista de Butoh que soy, como fotógrafo dirigido al performance? ¿Qué he estado creando trabajando durante un año entero con esta plataforma de creadores que fuimos de alguna manera convocados por Haydé Lachino y Manuel Vason en octubre de 2016? Y no llego a ninguna conclusión concreta -en el sentido plenamente físico-. Pero sí que pienso…

Probablemente aquello que estamos tratando de hacer -sin una plena conciencia-, en este primer performance de Humedad Expansiva, es una transposición del imaginario burdel de Le Balcon de Jean Genet: una instalación viva entretejida de una maraña de espacios que expone nuestros propios ventanales de consumo creativo, nuestros propios cuartos de trabajo y placer, nuestros cuerpos físicos y virtuales, cuartos que nos dan una sensación de seguridad e intimidad corporal que no existe en la realidad, mientras, afuera, el mundo se revuelve en un caos destructivo, mientras el sistema de nuestro tiempo gota a gota se desmorona con nosotros en él.

Esta red, (por pequeña que nos parezca en la instalación viva del próximo sábado 23 de septiembre en la casa de la cultura de la UAEM en Tlalpan), sin duda exhibe plenitud de humedad, de viscosidad, y podrá reconocerse entre sus cables y luces rojas de encendido, maraña que tiene vida propia y que se expande continuamente. Ya sin posibilidad de concretarla o poseerla por ninguno de nosotros, también será imposible asirla con nuestras propias manos, hacen falta otras extremidades, de esas que tienen ojos y lengua y escupen críticas y besos de bienvenida.

Las formas viejas para documentar éstos nuestros escaparates íntimos en exhibición ya no nos sirven y las formas nuevas solo pueden recurrir a nuevos mitos que siguen basándose en la convención anterior, tan desdeñados por el exageradamente serio Genet:

« Je n’ai pas grand-chose à vous dire, mais je m’emmerde. C’est pour ça que je vous écris. Pour corriger un peu Le Balcon, je l’ai donc relu : c’est très mauvais, et très mal écrit. Prétentieux. Mais comment faire ? Si je m’efforçais à avoir un style plus neutre, moins tordu, il conduirait mon imagination vers des mythes ou des thèmes bien trop sages, bien trop conventionnels. Car inventer n’est pas raconter. Pour inventer, il faut que je me mette dans un état qui suscite des fables, ces fables elles-mêmes m’imposent un style caricatural. C’est lié. »

Tal vez nuestra red performativa sea una caricaturización de nuestra realidad. La asumo con la misma exagerada seriedad del maestro Genet.

¡Es una lástima que no hubo más creadores que se nos unieran en este laberinto de zonas de intimidad, de cuerpos casi desnudos, de palabras y gemidos, de imágenes en cadena y de la transmisión que, por su naturaleza, inevitablemente deconstruye la realidad de lo que creemos transmitir!

Entrenamiento y montaje de Humedad Expansiva. Casa UAEM Tlalpan. 2017.
Mi FotoPerformer…:
•Cuestiona siempre el camino anterior con el que se llega a la acción performativa.
•Piensa el futuro como un continuo trabajo de
exploración, nunca como una conclusión.
•Se apasiona por la inestabilidad de la no conclusión final.
•Busca resolver las necesidades técnicas durante el proceso mismo y
no anteponer esa resolución técnica como premisa de trabajo.
• Nunca es definitivo en el acto del movimiento.
• No hace diferencia alguna entre el objeto fotográfico y el objeto íntimo que
provoca la acción. Su cuerpo social verá la experiencia íntima como una
experiencia fotográfica. La imagen resultante es la imagen del movimiento.
•La imagen viva es la imagen continua, su inmortalidad radica en el no
estatismo; nada podría tener un inicio o un final en esa imagen.
Gustavo Thomas (Septiembre, 2017)
*(— Lettre de Jean Genet écrite pendant la gestation de la pièce à Bernard Frechtman, son agent et traducteur, 1960)