...And so it was Night!


Images from the exhibition at The Museum of Movement, Stockholm Feb- May 2016.

Museum of Movement (Dansmuseet), Drottninggatan 17, Stockholm, Sweden

...AND SO IT WAS NIGHT! 夜幕降临! 








“Dolls” is perhaps the word some people may choose to describe the nine actors in my theatre. I myself call them performers. Otherwise I think I prefer the term marionettes; puppet theatre characters is not really the correct term either, as it is glove puppets that are most commonly used in a puppet theatre. But the most serious objection I have to the term “dolls” is that it implies something you play with, playthings whose sole purpose is mere amusement. Calling them marionettes enhances the importance of these figures. Admittedly, there is no getting away from the fact that they are indeed “dolls” – figurines used for entertainment – but first and foremost they are artists performing in a play. Someone pulls their strings, guides their movements, controls their lives. By making this distinction, I am also making the point that I am investing part of my life in work that is deadly serious, even when it is fun. This is not child’s play.




The theatre is a medium that embraces a long list of different art forms, from acting to playwriting, composing music, designing stage sets, painting them, etc., etc. Theatre is all about the relationships between people on the stage and how these are portrayed; relations between the actors involved in the play and relations between the audience and the characters played by the actors, relations between the people within a society, but also relations between different societies and between different things, relations between light and between sounds. Working with my theatre has made me aware of the importance of the relationship between sound and movement, movement and inactivity, sound and silence – and the significance of pauses. I make it possible for observers to take on the role of the audience in the theatre and of the performers in the play – at one and the same time... But remember: it is not a theatre that I am creating. It is a picture of a theatre – a picture of the life that is lived while you look on … and are manipulated!






... And so it was night!

The moon sank with a jolt

a fragment

behind warring stars
the sun,
which otherwise never waits.


Welcome to the World
of the Marionettes.











For five years I have been renting a table to work on in the midst of local ceramicists and artists in Jingdezhen in China. It is fantastic! Jingdezhen is like an open book – here I’m able to see for myself what is happening.




Eventually I asked Xiao Xue, “How do you go about getting the glaze to look the way it does?”
“God knows!” was her immediate reply.
I understood. This response came to define my relationship to the way in which I approached working with glazes: “I just do it. Then wait to see how it turns out…” That was what Xiao Xue meant with her answer, and so that’s that how I have continued to work.
Serendipity is based on respect for craftsmanship and tradition. Whereas an experienced ceramicist achieves his or her intended result in a single firing, I take a chance. I stumble on, out into the unknown, firing and firing and firing again until I’m satisfied. As a rule, the result can never be considered a failure since I don’t set out with a plan for what the “right” result might be. If anyone asks me about the glaze, why or how it looks the way it does, I simply answer, “It’s Xiao Xue glaze...”



Photo: Sun Jing/Torsten Jurell

There is, oh, so much art theory, yet so very little that is said about the actual dynamics of the creative process that enables me to learn from the achievements and shortcomings of other artists. More often than not, in my experience it is in interviews with musicians or in biographies of musicians that the real nuggets of interest are to be found.

That’s where I can come across candid disclosures of the unexpected, the unplanned, the spontaneous that an experienced practitioner is able to make use of. What’s interesting about such texts is that musicians often have a very open, generous attitude towards other artists and are frank about acknowledging the traditions within which they work.

Keith Richards frequently acknowledges his debt to Chuck Berry, Slim Harpo or the Everly Brothers. In much the same way, I steal a riff from a thousand-year-old bowl and use it to create an expression of my own.


世上有太多的艺术理论,但对于真正创 作过程的表现力,却提的少之又少。而这个过程帮助我理解其他艺术家的成果和缺陷。通常,经验告诉我,在与音乐家的访谈中或者其传记里面可以找到其真正的兴趣所在。正是在那里我发现, 阅历丰富的实践者可以坦白无 疑地将自己意想不到的、未计划的心声自然流露出来的秘密所在。有趣的是,音乐家对其他艺术家的态度一般很开放并宽容,他们不隐藏自己承继的工作传统。吉斯·理查德经常承认自己受益于查克·贝利、詹莫斯·摩尔或者埃弗里兄弟。同样,我从一只千年古碗上窃取一丝创意,用来制作自己的作品。



The Three Promises 三个承诺


We’ve now been on the road for a hundred and forty-one days with our theatre and given – let’s see – two hundred and eighty-two performances.

Huh! Two a day. That’s what we’ve been doing for twenty-eight years now. And what have we got to show for it all? No matter how many performances we give, we never earn enough for more than one bowl of rice congee between the two us. Even then we have to dilute it: it needs to keep us going both at breakfast time and in the evening. And everyone knows what you get if you dilute water with water.

You really do try my patience, Er Yi. Don’t you ever stop your damned whining? Hell’s bells, man! You’ve been complaining ever since… since you were born!
(In the distance the sound of an engine is heard, the noise gradually fades away.) Oh, I’m sorry … It’s late. It’s night-time and we’ve still not found anywhere to sleep. We’re tired. I’m tired. I’m sorry … Forgive me for finding fault like that. I didn’t mean it, Er Yi. I’m sorry.

Forget it, forget it, forget ..!







Early on a Saturday morning I bump into Liu Xi by one of the little food stalls on Xinchangdonglu, the street outside the Sculpture Factory, Diaosu ci Chang, in Jingdezhen. I tell her that I still haven’t managed to get any of the black glazes to turn out exactly how I want them to, and she advises me to buy glaze from one of the other shops.

When I explain that I’ve already tried shop after shop in my search for the right result, she merely shrugs her shoulders and says with cool indifference, what does it matter that she’s been trained at CAFA, the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, or that she’s been working with ceramics full-time for seven years; she still knows nothing.

Liu Xi intends her reply to be interpreted as words of encouragement.




The moon brings light to the world in a different way from the sun. Sunlight differs from moonlight.
Moonlight is the opposite of sunlight, even though we know that moonlight reflects the light of the sun. When the sun disappears behind a cloud, the world remains well-lit. When the moon is obscured, everything is plunged into darkness.

Things look different by moonlight, taking on different contours, evoking different associations. Moonlight is the fictitious world that we can compare with the world we are more used to seeing. In the moonlight everything becomes ambiguous, without necessarily becoming any less true



One day in the maze of alleyways close to my studio, an old man shows me a treasure trove. Day after day I have walked past the wall around the yard, seen the roof of the house and shooed away the geese outside the gate. It has always been just one house among many.

But now the man beckons me to follow him through the gate and his little garden to a shed stacked high with sculptures from Lao Chang, the Old Factory. Beaming with pride, he shows me the porcelain artefacts he has collected – fifty, maybe sixty years old – and for each one he produces, he says, “Lao de” – “It’s old”.
It’s a strange experience, almost like a scene from a film. Why, I wonder, is he showing me all of these things? It isn’t a museum he has here; it isn’t even a proper collection. Just a jumble of porcelain sculptures from a few random years in the long, long history of Jingdezhen, piled high in a corner of a yard. Suddenly a golden-brown cat leaps out and the sculptures tumble down in a cloud of dust. It’s all so very typical for the way





In the light of darkness
stars sing
dreams are woven.
Who pitched their theatre tent
while we were so soundly asleep?