Raffia Li

artistiek onderzoek - community - lichaam - performance - installatie

Raffia Li (TA/they/she), works with poetry melting in minor edges/senses, in forms of performances, videos or installations. In their research, they explore the physicality of words and languages as actions/rituals/sites, to sense the gaps/gates under the signs, break the hegemonic speaking/written words, nurture/hold the in-between meanings and remake the poetic space of relations.

Their art practice is deeply influenced by poetry, theatre of the oppressed, reading of Zhuangzi, their field research over Asian shadow puppetry, learning experience of being in a sign language art collective Shape of Language, diary/letter exchanges with friends, their MA study at Dutch Art Institute, observations of their dreaming state, and the river near Grandma 芹’s yard. Their individual and collaborated projects have been presented in Today Art Museum, Guangdong Times Museum, Wuzhen Theatre Festival, Kunstinstituut Melly, Museum Tinguely, Gasworks, Centre Pompidou, and others.

penumbra, shadow of shadow asks - poetry installation single-channel video 6 min 30 secs, 2022 @ Imaginary Z Gallery, Hangzhou, China/ Poems look into their mirrors, shadows, shapes and lands, practising the formation of a longing, a memory, a ritual. How does the body performs the desire of words/objects to move?
on a temporary me, languages, hover - poetry Installation and performance, 2022, @Goethe Institute Soupspoon Open studio, Rotterdam, Netherlands. performers: a lamp, a ladder, a torch, fabrics, a A4 paper, Raffia, Miyoung ,and gradually joining poems on paper - Almost, you almost become god again - 孙术芹 Sun shuqin, the shaman was dancing all around her, singing in smoke - To look for something like a language / The shape of the installation slowly shifts throughout the ritual-performance. The ritual-performance is dedicated to body in resistance and their possible healing. Three poems are searching for their different relationality through movements of the performing artist, light, shadows, carrying the stories of three women lost their names in the "investigation" of their human-trafficking case, Grandma Qin, and the moment of almost becoming tree/god again.
悬亭 - video and sign language poetry series, 2021-2022 /Nature is never outside us. All corners of the urban space have long been inseparable from our bodies. Refusing the human/nature division means that we need to be in constant conversation with the more-than-human world, and keep inviting other movements into us: becoming otherwise, and in this case, becoming birds. In 悬亭 series, I invite my friends and collaborators Yanfei and Baizong to translate some of my bird video works into sign language, and it soon become a dance with the birds, and our collective choreography through which we expand and shape each other. By watching/filming the steps, pauses, dives, gazes of birds, and transforming them into our own body through signing, could we inhabitie the birds? When our body is the study room to listen to nature, would we find other ways of communicating, encountering and being, would we start to remember the rituals of dreaming and transforming化物?
Sometimes a feather  - video, 6 min 19 secs, 2022, in 悬 亭 video and sign language poetry series with Yanfei Li, in Zhongshan, China, and Rotterdam, Netherlands
To all the shapes falling at different/the same present/absent times/time I-我 we/us-我们 you-你/你们 They- TA/TA们, (                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ) question mark  - single-channel video and performance, 20 min, 2021 performers: Raffia Li, Miiel Ferráez, Marie Tučková́, Lou Lou Sainsbury, Miyoung Chang, Maoyi, and Yanfei Li (in video) at Understory Chant, The Dutch Art Institute, in collaboration with Sonsbeek 20- 24, 25 August 2021, Posttheater, Arnhem, Netherlands / How do we find rhythm with each other? How does language connect us with each other, and how is this rhythm disrupted by the virus? A playfulness emerges, a melancholy, through food, through song, through which we may or may not have belonging. I'm struck by the vignettes, the disruption of theater space, which becomes a microcosm of the disruption of the study program, finding a place to be in the Netherlands…ways to find commonality and how to cross borders, how to bridge corners, how to care for each other in this time. (Review by Barbie Asante)
To all the shapes falling at different/the same present/absent times/time I-我 we/us-我们 you-你/你们 They- TA/TA们, (                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ) question mark  - single-channel video & performance, 20 min, 2021 performers: Raffia Li, Miiel Ferráez, Marie Tučková́, Lou Lou Sainsbury, Miyoung Chang, Maoyi, and Yanfei Li (in video) at Understory Chant, The Dutch Art Institute, in collaboration with Sonsbeek 20-24,  25 August 2021, Posttheater,  Arnhem, Netherlands / A celebration of fluidity, fugitivity, friendship, and belongingness to nowhere/elsewhere, in the presence of the absent.
吾 丧 我 How do I lose I - single-channel video and performance, 20-30 min, 2021 performers: Raffia Li, Miiel Ferráez, Iga Świeściak, and Yanfei Li (in video) at Performing Arts Forum, Saint-Erme-Outre-et-Ramecourt, France/ This performance is a playful and expansive research about languages ​​as sites/landscapes for collective subjectivity, working through an ancient text from Zhuangzi, a Taoist literature, and the different definitions of an “I” in Chinese characters, as “我”, a position of holding a weapon, or a kind of tilting ; as “吾”, the five entrances/exits in the encountering and sensing. What would happen if 吾 can lose 我? It plays with the body in action of writing “我-I” with hand and chopsticks, in the air, and on water, on purposely producing the kind of writing that would disappear, playing with the idea of ​​a constantly disappearing “I”, but also bringing up front the question of what counts as writing, and criticszing the performance itself using a highly sighted and hearing oriented format, reflecting the hierarchy of senses in a neurotypical world.
Touch? Tapping is so00 nice! - Lecture performance, 20-25 min, 2020 English Voice: Francesca Hawker Performed at Radio Kootwijk, Netherlands/This lecture performance is a post-ableist experiment through multi-layering of languages, and the in-betweens. It is mainly delivered through me typing, with my friend Francesca’s voice reading out what appears on the screen. It challenges the expectations of an ableist “efficient”society, and creates pauses, time to breathe, space for mistakes and the playfulness of delay. The shifts between American sign language, Chinese sign language, spoken and written Chinese, and English, makes“the fluidity and new body land” possible, as what I have learnt/unlearnt from being with my Deaf friends and collaborators. It also tapped into Protactile movement and language, lead by the DeafBlind community in the U.S, and John Lee Clark’s Protactile poem based on touch, and his Distantism theory criticizing “the privileging of the distance senses of hearing and vision”, bringing the audience into the in-between languages, gestures, and the possibilities in the not-yet-becoming.
Moon Ear, broken fingers, languages and their shadows - performance, 25-30 min, 2020 at Leiden Netherlands, and Het Patronaat, Epen, France / This performance is a ritual of light and shadows, embodying the dismantled language searching themselves on the ground, in the gap of things. The forced-transparent body illuminated at different moments, lighted up but still silent, still opaque, still broken, still resisting.
A Trap. Listen, we have it all. - Video and photography series, 2019, with Zhuang Zhuang, Xiao Xu, Baizong, Tan Ziyi, S, Yanfei Li, Haixia Li, Lingling Che, Sail Wallace Center, NTID, Rochester, NewYork, US, 2019 / Deaf people are always described as living in a 世 界 silent world. Both hearing and deaf people are so used to these terms which has been oppressing and romanticizing the experience of being deaf in social media. This work takes the viewer's hands and walks them into a trap starting with a word play of 声 音 sound/voice, but soon arriving a brand new playground of the source/origin of these sounds, where the old habit of constructing meanings will have to change.