curated by Andrés Galeano

Artists: Ivan Civic, Yingmei Duan & Lan Hungh

Yingmei Duan in collaboration with Lan Hungh

Performances: 12.11.2010-14.11.2010 14-19h.

Yingmei and Lan are related beings as artists. It is no wonder that the two have now agreed to cooperate in their common intention to create a series of experimental performances. The two artists explore human nature, the body and are interested in desire of all possible forms. Both like to transform their bodies and turn into something else for example animals, clowns or objects. They also love to interactively engage with the audience. The expression spectrum of their work integrates witty, ironic and tragicomic aspects, sometimes very clearly and directly.

Their work planned for the Grimmuseum draws parallels between heaven and hell, Ying and yang, man and woman, life and death, public and private. The artists will be making site-specific work that incorporates all levels of the exhibition space. One can only wonder what they will come up with for their collaboration at the Grimmuseum.

Ivan Civic
Wake for James lee Byars
Performances: 09.11.2010, 10.11.2010 at 14-19h & 11.11.2010 19:30 to midnight

Ivan Civic will be performing his first tribute ever to another artist. This need comes from a certain level of acknowledgement that the importance of other artist’s influences and amount of inspiration in one’s own work are very significant.

Civic will perform a tribute to the late James Lee Byars. He was an incedibly strong influence on Civic’s work. The performance will be a sort of wake or ritual of reflecting upon the tension and amount of energy Byars would always bring with him to any space he would enter, pass through and perform in.

This wake will take place in the newly founded Grimmuseum in Berlin. A place James Lee Byars never went to. The performance is supposed to awaken the memory of this artist and bring him back to life in this new space, with new people surrounding him and new approaches to the way his work can be seen and experienced.

Civic will not reperform or remake any of Byars’ art works and performances. He will simply stay close to his own work and way of performing but will try at the same time to come as close as possible to what he thinks and feels Byars’ essence in performance was.
Memory plays tricks on all of us and time divours even the strongest of memories if they are not properly transmitted from generation to generation. We have forgotten the ways of our ancestors of traditional tranfer of memory and values through the ritual of speech, storytelling and performing.

This performance is an attempt to bring back the ancient values of the importance of transmition of experience, respect, memory and love. James Lee Byars is in the artist’s heart and the artist wants to share this emotion and memory with anybody interested, no matter how apparently futile all this might seem. In the end we might lose the fight of memory preservation but it is sure worth the effort to try and invest all the energy into what we believe in and pass it on to others.
Special thanks to Kristina Estell for her loving support and energy in helping me make this project concrete and even more precious.

Thank you J.L.B
Love I.C.

Extract from blog:

For all information about the performance “Wake for James Lee Byars”, daily updates and information about the artist “James Lee Byars”, please go the blog:
Wake for James Lee Byars – performance – day 1 – of darkness and future past
The first five hours of the first day of performing “Wake for James Lee Byars” went very well. It was the first time I was performing a tribute to another artist and it was the first time I spent so many hours blindfolded in the darkness.
It is interesting how the darkness makes you move, breathe and think differently. I could only see blurs of light and colour through my blindfold and after a couple of hours it became so natural to me that I almost thought it would be interesting to make all the visitors wear blindfolds too as they enter the performance space. But I guess that would be a different work then.
I wrote on both extreme walls of my space abreviations in gold in James Lee Byars style. Nobody but Jmaes and me know what these abreviations stand for.
While in the darkness I thought a lot about light and came to the conclusion that in the dark one can see clearly. More clear then one would imagine. The scent I filled the room with got absorbed by the wool blindfold and so I had the intense smell of anciant baroque woodden floors… dark wooden floors with a hint of lavender and liquorice on top of a woody rooty sandal carpet… This is the mood I was in today. I wore shoes I bought in 1997… the only black ones I bought that year… 1997 was the year James Lee Byars died in Cairo, Egypt… on May 23rd…
The Grim Museum staff and coordinators were a charm. All very helpfull and just as crazy as me when it comes to dedication to work and devotion. I felt safe there and loved. It was a very good first day. And most important of all, after the performance ended, I felt understood. This is a feeling I get too seldom. And in this case I was so happy that it worked out well
icon_smile Enrico and Andrés, you rock!
I hope James would have liked the first day performance at least a little bit. I hope I am doing him justice. I am very aware of the fact that the budget I am working on here is a microscopic one if compared to what sort of monuments James Lee Byars was used to building and delivering.
I can offer only one thing no money can buy: my endless respect and love for this artist and this is the only thing I can give and when it comes to giving it, I tried really hard to make out of every movement a respectfull and carefully thought out gesture. This is a ritual kind of performance and I am trying to channel James into the space as much as possible through my interpretation of what his energy was like to feel.
The blurrs of lights and colours I saw during the five hours were incredible… they would blend into one another and become patterns of thought inside of me. I am starting to understand his notion of “Nô”… but it will take me much more time to get closer to it. The past felt so close it almost invaded my space and self. The vision of future was blank for now and appeared silent and still in time.
I am wearing black and not gold. I know James would wear gold and I am not trying to emulate or copy him. I am myself and this is a Civic performance, but I try to give my interpretation of what I feel for this artist and what I feel he felt like in a performance.
As the three days will proceed I will change elements and vary details giving a fuller inside view of a sort of catharsis, present in the gesture of so many of his works. The closer I get to November 11th thursday to friday midnight performance end and the more intense the simbology will get as well… tomorrow I add another layer…
This will be a short performance. Only three days long… but very intense! I wish you could all come and be there with me.
Wake for James Lee Byars – performance – day 2 – gold and black masked
Extract from “James Lee Byars – the Epitaph of con. art is which questions have disappeared” – Edited by Carl Haenlein – Kestner Gesellschaft 1999:
“… The shimmering objects which he covered with golden surfaces, have become agents of a light which – according to the unshakable certainty of the artist – will change the world.”
“… gold… Byars is the first to restore to the medium the elementary potency which the material once possessed in ancient times and then up to around 1500.”
Today was the second day of “wake for James Lee Byars”. The performance is flowing surprisingly fast. The five hours I spend performing pass by so quickly I do not know why really? At first I thought it was because I am still in good shape and concentration state from my last one month performance “Shedding time”, at the Württembergischer Kunstverein. But today I understood I had underestimated the performance style of James Lee Byars.
In fact, the addition of a new layer today made the performance time speed up even more. I added the precious stone covered in gold my dear friend and artist Kristina Estell made for me, especially for this performance. The reason is, firstly, the dedication, love and energy Kristina put into this beautiful object, and secondly, the fact that it is out of gold, in addition to the black I wore. This color combination was indeed very important, energywise, to James Lee Byars. Here is why it was so important:
Extract from “James Lee Byars – the Epitaph of con. art is which questions have disappeared” – Edited by Carl Haenlein – Kestner Gesellschaft 1999:
“Gold and black – the contrast could not be greater. Gold is the element in which the phenomenon of reflection is most extensively developed, gold is the material which, comparable to the sun, can create light and resplendence. As Byars said: Gold does not take on any dirt. And gold, just as are diamonds, is an exalted material. It posses such a degree of abstraction that it encounters you – if you use it artistically – on an already exalted level.”
Everybody who saw the performance today has told me after it that they were mesmerized by the amount of light the golden surface of the rock would reflect in the entire room. This indeed is a way of work many artists have abbandoned almost entirely. Gold is pure and reflects towards the outside its interior perfection and sunny luminosity. It seems as if it were pure, for it absorbs time as well… it catalizes time, sucks it up and catapults it out again, exponentially.
Gold, in addition to the entire head cover/mask, worked wonders combined together. Infact, the mask allowed me to be more free and pure in my expression. Even though this seems impossible because when I cover my face, one doesn’t see my expression any longer. Still… the mask allowed me to purify the performance and turn it into pure gesture and intention without the mimic of a face… without the mimic which would distort the real intentions the body wants to transmit.
Extract from “James Lee Byars – the Epitaph of con. art is which questions have disappeared” – Edited by Carl Haenlein – Kestner Gesellschaft 1999:
“James Lee Byars understood a full mask to consist in the complete concealment of the face in a cloth, whereas a half-mask was made of a tight scarf tied at the back of the neck and pulled down over the face to the tip of the nose. By covering the face of James Lee Byars, the mask allows the performer Byars to appear as a performer. Similar to how the Nô player animates the role he presents by making his individual person disappear behind the mask and robe, by covering the face Byars attains a unity of performing artist with the reality which the artist has cast.”
Tomorrow will be the third and last day I perform “wake for James Lee Byars”. The last day will have another layer added to the action. The performance will begin at 19:30 and will come to an end at midnight, between thursday, November 11th 2010 and November 12th 2010. 161 months passed since James Lee Byars died… It is time he came back and lived again in our memories!
I believe that each artist has a responsability towards not just his pubic, but towards society in general. Artists should communicate not just what is on their minds but must also find ways to educate and open minds. It is rare that artists try assuming the role of barers of past memories and givers of lost values. And it is even rarer that artists perform in memory of other people that are important to them, and I am not sure I am doing this correctly either, because I feel it is a great responsability.
Being The Grimmuseum such a young place for art to grow and prosper, I though it appropriate to bring into it a piece of art history. This also to give the institution a beginning of a tradition. Performing a ribute to James Lee Byars in the Fidericianum in Kassel or in Piazza San Marco would be useless in a way because those are places he performed in in his life. Those are places that have been marked by him already.
The Grimmuseum is a virgin so to speak and it is fresh and clear. I feel it wise to begin its life with a healthy and respectful ritual of initiation… I see it as a ritual of legittimisation of the institution in the eyes of those who have passed away and yet have left so much behind that still needs to be told. A friend of mine once told me: “an artist should never go to the grave pregnant.”… When we die, our ideas have the right to live on…
I am not sure that what I am doing will make a difference on a bigger scale. But I am trying hard and I do believe that each revolution starts at home, in a private enviroment, in almost total silence, and it will spread out, like the waves of a seaquake… we all have this resposability. And we should never forget where we come from and what made us to what we are today.

Wake for James Lee Byars – performance – day 3 – of stillness in time
The performance has come to an end. Another effort is over. The installation will be present in the space until sunday. If anybody wishes to see the installation, you can do so daily from 14:00 to 19:00 in the Grimmuseum in Fichtestrasse 2 in Berlin.
As usual, I will not post the images of the last minutes of the performance. That is just for those who have been in the space with me to remember. The end began at midnight and was a decent goodbye to the performance as well as a welcome and greet to James Lee Byars.
I am very tired and need sleep. I wonder what James is thinking now, wherever he is… after some artist from Sarajevo just took over his style and energy and told the world the story of a great artist that once was James Lee Byars…
Forgetting about the existence of other artists is sad and shocking to those that still remember them. But I spoke to Frank Thiel tonight after the performance ended and he told me that it doesn’t matter wether or not people remember other artists.
The important thing is that when a late artist is brought back into the visual conscience of society, that the people still can relate to his or her vsion. And tonight they all could more then relate to James Lee Byars. So I can gladly say that in this sense, the performance was a success.Thank you Frank for bringing it to my attention .
Thank you to the Grimmuseum for the trust and support and to all my friends that stoically waited all that time till the clock struck midnight!

At the centre of Yingmei Duan’s performance art is her exploration of human instincts, longings, and dark desires. She examines the processes of society and questions its conventions and behaviours. Born in China in 1969, Yingmei Duan is part of the Chinese avant-garde, and worked as a painter for many years, living in the legendary art district of Beijing’s East Village. In 1995 she participated in the performance “To add one meter to an anonymous mountain”, which is considered to be one of the classics of Chinese modern art. She became a pure performance artist under the influence of Marina Abramovic, with whom she studied at the HBK Braunschweig in Germany from 2000 to 2004. There, she also worked for one year with the film-maker and action artist Christoph Schlingensief. In the last fifteen years Yingmei Duan has made her name in numerous national and international exhibitions, festivals and workshops through her performance art.
Yingmei is an inquisitive observer who asks questions of all facets of life in order to continuously learn and develop. She often impulsively and spontaneously develops performances as situational experiments. On the other hand she can also plan her performances with intense attention being paid to the last detail. She loves to interact with the public and likes to work with artists and people from all areas of life. Her artworks are works in progress, and are often stretched over long periods of time. www.yingmei-art.com

Ivan Civic born 1979 in Sarajevo/Bosnia and Herzegovina. He studied experimental video, film and performance at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste (HBK) in Braunschweig/Germany among others with Marina Abramovic (MA 2005/2006).
He has been active for several years in the international art scene and has shown his work at such prestigious art spaces as P.S.1 in New York, NY/USA, the Irish Museum for Modern Art in Dublin/Ireland, MARTa Herford in Herford/Germany, the Galleria Civica in Trento/Italy, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam/Netherlands, and the Biennale in Venice/Italy.

Ivan Civic works in the fields of performance, video installation, photography and design and concentrates on the analysis of society and its structures, searching for limits inside conventional unions such as the family nucleus, relationships, cultural and intellectual environments. Through the use of icons, symbols and fetishes instinctively obtained from the domestic circles and from the public scene, Civic expresses mechanisms, dynamics, contradictions and conflicts of relational environments.
He received the first prize at Premio Internazionale della Performance in Trento in 2006 and a grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for the best international art student of the year at the HBK Braunschweig in 2003. Civic was selected by Dan Graham for the Akademie Schloss Solitude grant and residency for the years 2009/2010 in the field of visual arts. He has just come back to Berlin from Stuttgart where he performed his performance : "Shedding Time" for three consecutive weeks (seven ininterrupted hours a day) at the Württembergischer Kunstverein. www.ivancivic.com

lan hungh
graduated from Taiwan University of Arts. Hungh’s practice consists of performance, music, installations, videos, sculptures and curatings, explores the concept of the everyday and life’s intimacies.
With a mixture of culture his performance functions as a diary and incorporates music and movement of personal experience.
The experience of working in different fields inspired him today to challenge
the existence of categories, his recent works are mixture of emptiness and everything, and focus on Chinese old philosophy of “non-action”.