Warm Hands: A Performance Reading of Roland Barthes’ Travels in China

2022.04.09 Saturday 14:00


Macalline Art Center, 706 N. 1st St.798 Art Zone, 2 Jiuxianqiao Rd., Chaoyang, Beijing

Artist:Peng Zuqiang

Stage Director:Lu Shirley Dai





In 1974, a delegation from French literary magazine Tel Quel, which included Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, and Philippe Sollers, traveled from Paris to Beijing, then on to Shanghai, Nanjing, Luoyang, and Xi’an. The journey was a bit surprising, but it was also a necessary encounter between French left-wing intellectuals and the East. When confronted with China, Roland Barthes recorded the ambiguity, excitement, mystery, weariness, and boredom, as well as criticisms and stereotypes. Barthes’ writing brought together a wide range of subtle emotions and ideas, which eventually comprised a fragmented, stream-of-consciousness work.

On April 9, Macalline Art Center will present a performance reading of this text in the exhibition space for “The Elephant Escaped.”

In “The Elephant Escaped,” Peng Zuqiang’s video Sight Leak transforms and reconsiders the undercurrent of desire in Roland Barthes’ Travels in China. Guided by the artist, we extracted readings from his creative process to form a script. The performers will make simple bodily movements paired with the reading, which will be recorded in a video. The host will describe the historical background for the text, and Macalline Art Center has invited Dai Lu to guide the performers.

During this performance reading, visitors can view materials that Peng did not include in the final cut of Sight Leak.

About the Artist

Peng Zuqiang makes moving images. Zuqiang’s works have been shown at exhibitions and festivals internationally including UCCA Beijing, Times Art Center (Berlin), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, IDFA, Antimatter, and Open City Doc Festival. He has received fellowships and residencies from the MacDowell, Skowhegan, the Core Program. He received the ‘Jury Special Prize’ from the 8th Huayu Youth Award, and a ‘Special Mention’ from Festival Film Dokumenter, Yogyakarta for his first feature film, Nan (2020).

About the Stage Director

Lu Shirley Dai is an interdisciplinary choreographer and artist educator. She was the director of choreography of the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and teaches at Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. She was also an artist educator and guide at Dia Art Foundation in New York. Lu graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University double majoring in Art History and Dance, and have obtained a MFA in dance degree from Sarah Lawrence College. 

Lu’s works explore the contemporaneity and sociality of art by examining the theoretical ideas of art history and philosophy, and by integrating the media of body, image, text, and space. Her seven years of study and creative experience in the United States have enabled her works to analyze the intersection and impact of post-modern art aesthetics and Chinese modern contemporary culture under the influence of globalization. At the same time, Lu constantly examines and expands the methodology of “practice-as-research” and applies it to her creative process and teaching ideas. In both art making and teaching, she strives to cultivate a sense of social responsibility and empathy, multicultural awareness and critical thinking.

About the Moderator

Clement Huang is researcher and asssistant curator at Macalline Art Center, Beijing, China, who writes, translates, and researches arts and culture, often with philological, iconographic, or psychoanalytic perusal. His reviews has been published on Art-ba-ba, The Art Newspaper China, Heichi, Kinfolk, Wallpaper, etc. He has translated for various art institutions including UCCA Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing, Red Bricks Museum, Beijing, Power Station of Art, Shanghai, Jumièges Abbey, Paris, etc. He translated the book Arsham-isms (2022).


The Macalline Center of Art (MACA) is a non-profit art institution located in the 798 Art District of Beijing and officially inaugurated its space on January 15, 2022. Occupying a two-story building with a total area of 900 square meters, MACA unites artists, curators, and other art and cultural practitioners from around the world. Through its diverse, ongoing, and collaborative approaches, the Center establishes a new site on the contemporary art scene. Guided by the “work of artists” and backed by interdisciplinary research, the Center aims to bring together a community passionate about art and devoted to the “contemporary” moment so as to respond proactively to our rapidly evolving times.