Sunday 29 December 2013

Where life begins

Just back from Tokyo and I have to jump on a fast-speed train of work. The post-production of When Doves Fly is a mess. I didn't get all the details, but as I was ready to resume the editing of some scenes which required the music, I received a fairly ambiguous e-mail stating that I would be from then on working with Adam, the producer for the director, my friend ShangSing being 'not available'... Whatever that means remains a mystery, although I have a hint about what may have gone on, in the light of the situation a few weeks ago...
In the meantime, I was trying to contact Kakuji to find out what happened to my phone and who had been the author of those practical jokes on my apps accounts...
I took the bus to Hsinchu today. Hsinchu, also known as the city of winds. I didn't know why, now I know. The thermometer may show 10°C, I was shivering of cold, when in Niigata, 3°C didn't have any effect on me...
Jiang Shan Yi Gai Suo is one of the few art spaces in activity in Hsinchu. Maybe it's because of the winds... Adrian had found this place and was very willing to do an exhibition there. It all happened very quickly. I can't imagine a similar situation in Paris or London...
The space has a bohemian feel: a gallery, a coffee shop and a hostel. The building is an old house, hidden in a small alley in the former prostitutes quarter - quite difficult to spot for the passer by. I hope they'll manage to keep it open for a long time in spite of that. Words of mouth will help.
They were hosting a gig when I arrived, which meant that we wouldn't be able to set up the exhibition before the end of the afternoon. 
A project with Adrian is always an adventure. He likes to go backpacking and working with him has something of a backpacking trip: I never know what to expect, there's practically no sense of real organisation, everything is to be improvised on the spot. I may feel annoyed by it, but actually, this pushes me to keep my mind active and alert.
Adrian and his friend Keith had been spending the night there in a minuscule room. The sight of them reminded of my younger years as a musician touring with Michèle Atlani. Sometime the conditions were hardly above the acceptable! The little rooms at Jiang Shan Yi Gai Guo were small but full of charm. 
Once again, a waste of time due to miscommunication. Adrian had been in touch with the owner who was only in charge of the hostel and the coffee shop, and not at in all in the know of what was going in the art space.
"I could have stayed home and work on my other projects", I said to Adrian. Of course he was not responsible. But I remembered how the same happened in Taichung at the GDI...
"Let's have a walk in the city" Adrian suggested. I grabbed my camera, finished my cup of green tea and went out with him and Keith. The gallery was located near an old temple, the heart of the old city. I enjoyed the unpretentiousness of the place. I don't think the soul of a city only resides in old buildings, but I often witness in Asia how they're quite incapable of handling new and old, except perhaps in Japan. Their notion of tradition is very elastic and is often distorted in any way possible.
Then the thought struck me. I realised why I was here, and not in London or New York in some swanky gallery. This was where the seed were to planted. Big expensive cities are saturated with arts and culture. It's become a commodity, a product of consumption that people buy or use to show off to assess their social status. Somehow the connection between art and creativity has been forgotten. In cities like Niigata, Taipei or Taichung, everything has to be built, and that may be the whole point. Trying to make it in a big city amounts to join a rat race of success. However, building up a cultural life is a different story. Jiang Shan Yi Gai Suo has only opened a few months ago. Its life and success is uncertain. That's where I could be helpful, as I was in Niigata nine years ago when NINA turned out to be the pivotal work which granted Noism its international career. Had I targetted my work for France only, I'd still be struggling to find a interesting project of modest scale.
The thought filled me with joy and excitement. Yes, the conditions may be messy and uncomfortable, but I was moved by all the efforts and time they brought to create a cultural life.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Tokyo (x) stories

Of course, I had to go the bath house in ni-chōme, at least once. But there was so much to do and I easily spend more time than not enough in bookstores or record stores. I just found out about a chain of second-hand CD shops called Disk Union, which opened the door to treasures of more music...
There was one sauna at the end of a little alley that I particularly enjoy going to since my first years in Tokyo. But the timing was wrong: it was the middle of the week so I couldn't expect too many people that night.
I had browsed a few shops selling videos and books in search of some porn manga for a friend. My search was fruitless. Friends advised me to try online.
I had spent the day seeing my little sister Yoshino and Yuichi. Yoshino is now doing well as an illustrator. She had to struggle for many years, but she never gave up. Her work is simple, poetic and innocent with a touch of melancholy. I was very sad when her father passed away. Uncle Ushida, one of my father's closest friend and fellow student at the conservatoire. One of Yoshino's earlier lithographs is hanging on my wall. I'm thinking of organising an exhibition for her in Taipei. Her face lit up when she heard that. I think it's totally possible as her style may find lots of following in Taiwan.
I bought a little book of zen for which she did the illustrations. "My French is getting worse and worse" she said apologetically. But it was still fine to me. 
Yuichi and I also met in the same area. He had been partying with some friends the previous night so he arrived much later than planned. Always the little lost young man with his mind wandering somewhere far, cigarette in hand, and his deep and sensual voice. He had longer hair today, which gave him a post teenager look. We went to a restaurant to have a meal. So much to talk about. He had been working without a break. "I maybe had one day off for the past half year!"
He took out a heavy book from his bag.
"I don't know if you have this already..." It was a Leslie Kee book. Leslie Kee's work has been quite popular in recent years. Somewhere between David LaChapelle and Terry Richardson, his photo have caused lots of scandal, not just because of the nudity he likes the display, but for his sense of publicity. The man knows that sex and scandal sell, so he doesn't hesitate to cross the line. I had been curious about his work last year and tried to find some of his books, which are sold at a ridiculously high price. 
I was very touched and happy when I received the heavy item. 
"I bought the book (Super Tokyo, 1,000 celebrities posing nude with some Hello Kitty artwork on each picture), because a friend of mine was in it. But when I flipped through the pages, I didn't want to have another look at it again! It's been sitting in my bookshelf for two years. I'm happy to give it to you!"
My bag was already filled with Cd's and books, and I was glad to welcome that one.
"Oh I wanted to tell you one thing. But I forget each time I talk to you..." Yuichi said to me as we were walking toward the metro station.
"What is it?"
"It's about porn... I saw your pictures on a gay porn blog..."
I stopped. Was I suddenly discovering about a second life I had which I knew nothing about? 
"Yes, somebody posted your pictures on that blog"
"When did you see them?"
"Maybe two months ago..."
Words failed me.
"Oh it's the black and white pictures... Someone took them from your Facebook... Facebook is dangerous. One click and it's on millions of screens..."
"I suppose I should see that as a compliment..." I replied
"Oh you're tagged in the 'hunk' section... Also many celebrities on that blog. Any sexy Asian..."
"Nothing much I can do about, I guess... and anyway, these pictures are fairly tame, maybe too arty compared to what one can see online nowadays..."
I was flattered in some weird way, but had the feeling that a big chunk of myself was escaping me. Indeed sex sells. Should I talk about my work or my music on Facebook, I would raise little interest. As soon as I post a picture showing some skin, the reactions are sky-rocketing and leave me with a ambivalent feeling. The temptation is strong to repeat the formula and I guess I have yielded to it more often than not. 
Yuichi and I parted way at the metro station. I wanted to stay longer with him but I also had another friend to meet for a short drink and go to the bath house and this was my last evening in Tokyo! 
My friend, was waiting for me in a small coffee shop in the heart of ni-chome. It was our first meeting in real life after a long time sending messages and e-mails, a situation which has become quite common nowadays. The place was playing Christmas songs (badly) arranged in all sorts of styles: bossa, trance, reggae, disco, Disney... The jolly season knows no boundaries!
The appointment didn't last long. My friend was tired and found it challenging to express himself in his poor English. He kept apologising while I was much too impatient to go to the bath house. I regretted to have not stayed longer with Yuichi instead. My friend left to go back home and finish some work for the next morning and I reached the bath house with my heavy bag full of books. As expected, it wasn't the high time. I made myself comfortable and enjoyed the spa area. Not many guys that I found attractive. The one who dared to approach me were the older, chubby men who have nothing to lose. I walked into the dark open room: three big rooms connected to each other, with double deck beds on one side and mattresses placed on the floor on the other. Couples were making love on some of the beds, moans could be heard across the room. Some would stop and watch for a moment, but never too long, for intimacy had to be respected, even in an open space. I felt the impulse to join some couples but the invisible walls around the beds were shielding their love-making from any intrusion.
A young man lied down next to me but stayed there motionless. I thought I recognised him as the one who was showering beside me earlier on. Tall, tanned, not too bad-looking, with a sophisticated hairdo and a goatee. I didn't move either and held my breath. For a few minutes, I observed the slow and silent ballet of silhouettes moving about the room, people stopping to appraise a body or a face, hesitate then go. One man was bold enough to sit in between me and the young boy. The boy kept motionless. I felt a hand making its way through my body. His touch, though pleasant didn't ignite any desire in me. He left eventually. The boy timidly extended his left arm and I felt his finger caressing my nipple. What follows is determined by this particular moment. If I move away, that would signify rejection, would I lie still, then he must try a little harder; if I make a gesture toward him, then the play can start. I moved closer. He unfastened his bathrobe belt.
I found out that there was a big gap between the fantasies that my mind generates and what really works for me. A person endowed with a handsome look, an athletic body isn't necessarily the perfect, ideal partner. When there is no compatibility, there is not genuine pleasure, in spite of the ideal appearances. My sensitivity to people's aura makes it more difficult to me. Hard-ons are not automatic. "The dick chooses." Nicolas once said. I found the idea amusing and slightly scary. No more waste of time on the wrong person. I shall alas, never be the almighty stallion who gets hard in all circumstances!

The boy lying next to me reached his climax quite quickly. Quite strangely it was after sex that he displayed signs of tenderness and affection. We embraced and kissed passionately until the moment he had to leave. Not a word had been exchanged. The evening was young and I still had some time. I walked around for some time before deciding to go down to the shower room. New guys had just arrived. I had forgotten how Japanese people have long days at work.
I made my way to the second floor. Next to the shower booths were the steam rooms and the sauna. A couple was having sex in one of the steam rooms. I walked around for a while until I saw light coming from under a door. I pushed it tentatively. Inside, a man on a sling with his head covered by a towel was being fucked by another. Someone had been tailing me for a few minutes. I glanced at him - young, tall with a handsome face and yearning eyes. One of the persons who had just arrived. I motioned him to enter in the room with me. We stood there and observed the couple for a moment then sat on a nearby bench and started to explore each other's bodies. The man fucking found our presence disruptive and left. The one on the sling didn't move, obviously waiting for the next dick to enter him. Whoever fucks him would do. I came closer to him and pressed my young partner to service him. The door opened and three other men came in. One stood behind me and began to play with my body. When I saw that young partner was about to leave, perhaps thinking that I wasn't interested by him, I seized his hand. I disentangled myself from the group of men and we went to one of the shower booths, closely followed by a third man, the one who had been standing behind me in the sling room. My young partner didn't seem to mind so I let him in as well. The young boy turned out to be a very passionate lover. "I like you" he said to me later. 
He was Thai. The third man was Filipino. All of us thought the other was Japanese so only the basic words were uttered! The threesome was accompanied with excess of water. It was more erotic than sexual.
It was as wild as I expected, but the eventual tenderness soothed me. We exchanged contacts, not sure when we would meet again.

I certainly didn't suspect that the gay porn blog story would have a sequel the following day. My plane was to take off at 6 PM. I had plenty of time to enjoy the morning (and buy a couple more CD's). I still had not seen the Shoji Ueda exhibition Tsuyoshi had told me about, so I took a couple of hours to go to Tokyo station and enjoy more art. 
The gallery was celebrating the centenary of the photographer. His work was heavily influenced by the surrealists (Dali, Magritte, Man Ray) but retains an innocence and simplicity not present in his peer's works. From what Tsuyoshi said, Ueda has lived most of his life near that desert in the vicinity of Hiroshima. Watching his work gave me more courage to go out and show my own. I couldn't wait to do the forthcoming exhibitions with Adrian!

Everything was ready. The luggage and bags were packed, all loaded with books. I had all my belongings with me. I was only slightly concerned about one thing: the Taiwan government always makes sure that each of the visitors will leave the country and demands evidence of it, for fear of illegal immigration. I had nothing, except that my passport showed how often I have flown in and out of the country. Would that be enough? I also had a pamphlet advertising for the Yokohama performances of PLAY 2 PLAY in January with my picture on it. Would that convince them? I could also try to be as charming and suave as possible, although one look at the mirror and the sight of the dark circles dissuaded me from trying that path.
Eventually, I needed nothing. I arrived just in time for the boarding. I had tried another route and took a local train to the Narita airport. It took forever and by the time I reached the registration counter, it was thirty five minutes to the boarding! Fortunately I had registered online the previous day so they had to accept me. A young lady from the staff accompanied me to the boarding gate, allowing me to run past all the security control and passport check without waiting in line. Das war knapp!!!  I was sweating and breathless, but I was on the plane! 
If they had demanded I showed a flight ticket I couldn't have done it from my phone. That is until I realised the phone wasn't in my pocket nor in any of my luggage. 
"I must have forgotten it at Kakuji's flat" I thought. How silly! As I was locking the door and about to throw the key of the flat in the mail box, my intuition had told me to check one last time whether I had everything with me. I was sure I had not forgotten anything, but obviously, I had my head the clouds once again!!!
It wasn't until I reached my home in Taipei that I found out something was going wrong. As I opened my Facebook account, I saw that 150 people had clicked 'like' on some pictures I had posted, which was very unusual. When I saw the pictures, my heart nearly stopped. Two of them were of me naked, lying in bed on my stomach, another one showed me in the shower. The set of pictures was accompanied by one comment: "Like this?" My profile picture had also been changed. The low key Raymond Huang photo had been replaced by a photo of me in my underwears lusciously cooling down on the armchair, legs spread apart. Who was the culprit? My friends seemed to have enjoyed it. Their comments were ranged from appreciative to aroused. Flattering as they may have been, I deleted the pictures. I was amused, more shocked than embarrassed. I couldn't ascertain who was behind it. I didn't imagine Kakuji playing such tricks on me. That wasn't the person I knew. But then, what did I really know? Were he and his boyfriend drunk that evening, found my phone and messed up with it? I wrote an e-mail to him but received no reply. A friend I saw the next day told me with a twinkle in his eyes that I must now be quite popular since a cock picture was now gracing my profile on some other social network accounts. Then I remembered how one man was staring at me from the train platform in a very unusual manner. Japanese people rarely lock eyes with someone they don't know. That man then stepped into the crowded train and stood near me, his back to me. Could it have been him? Was it at that moment that he stole my phone? The mystery shall never be solved. 
"Why would a perfect stranger waste his time changing pictures on your accounts?" James exclaimed. The story was more comical than anything, but I slightly felt violated. 
"At least now, you must have tons of admirers!" Adrian joked. "I thought you made the ultimate sacrifice to boost up people's interest for your work!!!" Yes or like the character of Tyler Durden in Fight Club who inserts subliminal images of cocks in the film negatives.
Was I unconsciously preparing for the filming of the Don't be Koi music video, which evolves around the theme of sex addiction? 

In the light of the recent Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac, the graphic gay sex scenes from L'Inconnu du Lac or La Vie d'Adèle, this little incidents look tame in comparison.  If nothing happens for no reason, now I feel the urge to go further. 
Sex sells, a friend said. I like to say: it connects. 

Thursday 26 December 2013


I can say that Japan, particularly Tokyo, is the place I feel the most connected. I was trying to explain to Mikki what a revelation it was for me when I first came to Japan a decade ago exactly. I may love Paris, but I never felt at home there, always a stranger. New York has this vibrant energy of possibilities, Taipei feels comfortable and almost like home. But Tokyo gives me the perfect combination of edginess, traditions, creativity and beauty. I'm aware that I may just see what I want to see. Nevertheless, it runs deeper than I can imagine. I feel in tune there. In an ideal world, that's where I wish I had grown up.

I had five days to see friends, hunt for books and CDs take pictures, eat a dish of tonkatsu at least once and visit some exhibitions. 
I was also to complete five tasks but failed miserably at it: find a ceramic teacup for James (I wasn't in the right places, obviously), get a copy of a jazz magazine The Walker's for Raymond (he has one of his pictures gracing the cover, but the magazine was available nowhere, which led me to think it is perhaps an online magazine...), go back to the little shop behind the Bunkamura theatre where I bought those beautiful glass tea cups (as things change very quickly, the shop must have closed a long time ago), go to the teashop Cha No Yu in Hiroo and get a pack of this wonderful Celebration tea (the shop moved to another area, and the tea in question, a blend of champagne, violet and chocolate has, alas, been discontinued). 

But... the rest was pure enjoyment at its highest. Tsuyoshi showed me an area in Jinbosho called Book Town, not so far from where I was staying, a paradise for any book lover. I came accross several bookstores specialised in art and photography and had to prevent myself from buying all the books I saw there. Nolico took me to the Tsutaya bookstore in Ebisu. Stylish, trendy, filled with great, rare (and overpriced) items. Pure moment of bliss. Kiko and Shinya joined us and we had a very warm and joyful get together around a late night cup of coffee.
"I feel that with you here, I'm getting my life back", said Nolico. She had been through long years of blur after her divorce with Ken, taking care of her ailing father, handling all the paperwork, finding a new home for him. We stopped at the Manju café in Iidabashi. Its owner, Sanae-san had opened a new space not far away from it and wanted me to go and have a look. But my intuition told me not to. My time was limited and I wanted to make the most of it.
"Sanae thought that you could have your photo exhibition there." Nolico explained. "But I think the organisation is much too messy. Too many people are involved and Sanae doesn't know how to say know and changes her mind every day. I tried to help but it became too impossible for me."
"If I have to have any exhibition there, we should ask to have full control of the place for a given time and do it according to us" I said.
The idea of having a photo exhibition was very alluring to me.
"I may not be able to help you as far as music is concerned, but visual arts is more my field" Nolico added in the end.
I really felt that I had to come back for the Yokohama performances of PLAY 2 PLAY!!! Something's coming....


At the Shibuya Station

Saint Nicolaï Church


Girls at the Meiji Shrine

Yoyogi Station
Shinjuku ni-chome


Sunday 22 December 2013

On the road back

Early morning journey. Through the windows, rice fields, distant mountains, villages covered with snows, mountains, sunshine. Two hours and a half before reaching Tokyo. 

Last night in Niigata

I wanted to stay until the day of the last performance, but Noism didn't have enough budget to pay for an additional night at the hotel, so the alternative was to take the Shinkansen back to Tokyo after the second performance. The show was due to be over at around six thirty, the last train was at nine thirty. I even had time for a short dinner with Tsuyoshi and his friend Maki. 
But I eventually end up staying an extra night and I didn't get to see the last of the three performances. Things didn't go as planned. Just because my head was in the clouds. 
I had bid my farewell to all the members of the company. Satoshi had behaved like a primadona during the six days I was there (embarrassment? shyness? indifference?) and I could barely say anything more to him than the well deserved but flat congratulations after the performances and run-through. Only when he realised that he wouldn't see me the next day did he drop the attitude and gave me a sincere embrace. I don't know what is in his mind at present. My feelings for him are still intact, even if some time has passed and I don't expect anything more to happen. We're now both far away from those sunny summer days we spent together. Perhaps I'm of that rare breed that keeps emotions and memories very vivid in spite of the passing years. Time does not have any effect in that case.
The second performance was extraordinary. I watched it from the back stage seat. The same show, a different show and the feeling to witness parallel times in one blink.
I was proud of this work. I thought back then that it was my most ambitious work so far, and I still believe so. Photographer Kishin Shinoyama had come to take pictures of the general rehearsal - as his does for every piece, and also praised the new version. More compact, more straight to the point and more poignant, according to his words.

Dancers before the performance

Tsuyoshi and I went to the museum to see Shinoyama's exhibition. Beside his work with Noism I was only aware of the pictures of young sexy girls. Great was my surprise when I realised he was the author of the iconic John Lennon and Yoko Ono kiss, as well as the series of Yuiko Mishima posing as Saint Sebastian!!! I also discovered a beautiful series he took right after the Fukushima tragedy. Portraits of people who had lost their home or family because of the earthquake. A room with giant pictures of people looking at the camera, keeping their dignity even if the suffering is all too visible in their expression. That side of Shinoyama's was a big surprise to me. 
One thing leading to another, I was moved to realise full range of his photographic sensitivity and honoured to know him - even more to receive praises from him.

We ended our visit with a piece by Anish Kapoor which Tsuyoshi wanted to see. That was an occasion for a few good laughs when we started taking pictures, like two children at a fun fair.

Mikki brought her five year old son. A dynamic, adorable and sunny boy whom I had already seen three years before on my last day after the Hoffmann performances. He only stayed a few minutes, but I really fell in love with him!!!
"He can't stand still and always make jokes and sing all day long!!!" Mikki told me.
At first he was shy, but it didn't take him long to start running around and play with everything.
I thought of my own nephew.

Tsuyoshi took me and Maki to a charming little restaurant near the arcades. The place was deserted even if it was a Saturday evening. Maybe because of the cold or the rain...
I hardly had the time to eat the delicious dishes Tsuyoshi had ordered that I had to take the taxi to the train station. The Shinkansen was to leave at 9:33. I still had time but should not linger too long.
Everything was in Japanese, so I double-checked the information on the board. 9:33 train on platform 2. I still had fifteen minutes left. I bought a drink and a box of chocolate coated biscuit from the vending machine.
9:30, a local train was about to leave, but still no Shinkansen in view. Something was odd. The bullet train would usually be there at least ten minutes before the time... I looked up and saw a signboard which made me startle: for the Shinkansen follow THAT direction to platform 14!!! I carried and dragged my luggages as fast as I could, and when I arrived, the train was just leaving...
"I feel like the most stupid person on earth! I just missed the train to Tokyo" I wrote to Tsuyoshi. I walked around for some time before coming to a decision. Should I take the next local train which would arrive in Tokyo at 5 in the morning? Should I spend the night in one of those 24h internet cafés? Should I go back to the restaurant where Tsuyoshi and Maki were spending the evening? Should I stay and see the final performance the following day after I had made my farewell...?
The rain was falling heavily. I started to investigate the area around the train station: bars and red light spots for lonely (male) businessmen or travellers... I had a look at the price of the hotel rooms. I could not possibly spend the night in an internet café. Despite the instruction the girl gave me at the train station as I changed my ticket, I couldn't find it. Then I saw it: Single Inn. Room for 3600 yen a night. The rain was falling hard, I was soaked. That settled it. Single Inn it would be. 
The inn was shabby and dodgy. The room was miniscule, but comfortable enough for my extremely low standards. The kind of place where a runaway criminal would hide for one night.  
Tsuyoshi sent me messages urging me to come back and join them at the restaurant but I felt suddenly exhausted and didn't want to go anywhere. I had to take an early train the next morning. I ate my chocolate coated biscuits. It was a pathetically hilarious way to end such a glorious time in Niigata!
I bought some bath powder to soothe the stupidity of the situation. My stupidity! During the whole night, one client had his TV set at full volume, watching some anime with a girl yelling and whining constantly.

The streets of Niigata, near the train station

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Back to Ry-Utopia

There aren't enough words to describe the great joy that pierces through me whenever I am in Japan. Now I'm in Niigata! More than three years have passed already since the tempestuous creative process of Les Contes d'Hoffmann, my departure from Paris, my summer love story with Satoshi.
It was with a childlike anticipation that I came back to Niigata. That city doesn't strike as being particularly glamorous or trendy for any ordinary visitor - oh yes, the food is good, and the rice, certainly the best in the country. To me, Niigata was the place of my rebirth. Growth was slow but went steadily, even if I may have drifted far away in the process. However the seed that was planted was the belief, or the faith that everything would be fine eventually.
PLAY 2 PLAY is restaged with a totally new cast, except for principle dancer and muse Sawako. I saw Satoshi again with great pleasure. He has matured as a magnificent - and flamboyant primo ballerino. Kaneko-san, the sound engineer who has accompanied us for ten years already is still there. And of course, the joy to see Sawako and Jo again.
"I wish you were there all the timeto make me laugh and crack jokes" Sawako exclaimed as we were having a quick dinner after the rehearsal. The dancers at Noism know no idleness, thus being amazing performers on stage, and she reigns over them like a queen mother. 
I couldn't wait to see the changes that Jo brought to the original choreography. As far as I was concerned, even though I consider PLAY 2 PLAY as my best work, I still found that some section were dragging and lacking clarity. These new performances were the ideal excuse to revise the score.
As I watched the first run through, I marvelled once again at Jo's genius. The choreography was much more precise and straight to the point. I was also surprised by the music. Hearing it on my headphones and then seeing how she sounded on stage filled me with excitement. I may have written it, but I was still surprised and thrilled at how the sounds, layers, instruments played with my senses. I understood what I foresaw more than six years ago, without fully being aware of it. Naturally I asked myself whether I would be able to better myself after PLAY 2 PLAY. The six years allowed Jo and I to mature our vision of the world and ourselves. Back in 2007, we were perhaps more centered on our lives, focused on what we wanted to express through the piece. Now I feel no need to do anything. Everything matured by itself and speaks for itself. We are only channels. It was so amazing to watch this familiar work and yet not recognise anything at the same time! 

Sawako, Jo and I are gathering around a simple dinner after the last run through. Time to relax, and enjoy a few moments together. They are rare this time, for I don't stay long and there is still so much to prepare before the premiere. How I cherish them!
That was when Jo suggested me to get back to Captive Queen, and compose an entirely new music. I wanted to know what went through Jo's mind when he decided to make that solo for Sawako.While I thought that the piece was reflecting his current state of being, I actually learned that the true subject wasn't himself but his spouse, muse and principal dancer! Jo wanted to break down the walls he felt Sawako had erected around herself.
"I was my own prisonner, she said. But eventually, I didn't break any wall, I climbed over them!!!"
The idea now is that I compose a totally new score, regardless of what Sibelius has done.
"Just write what comes to your mind as you watch the dance. Be free!" Jo said.
Totally the opposite of what I had to do then!
Even if it's a more modest project, I'm so happy to have something to look forward to.


Saturday 7 December 2013


The important thing is not what happens to you, but how you react to it. Thus spoke Bruce Lee. I guess my life follows that spirit. Clinging to one's principles regardless to what happens around is bound to create more suffering.
The GDI Association was certainly not the best choice for an exhibition. We barely could concentrate on our work. The space was hosting the screening of a film, thus delaying our exhibition by three hours, then we only had a couple of hours to finish preparing for the exhibition. By the time of the supposed opening, hardly anyone showed up!
However the few who were there were surprised. The big sized pictures (100 x 85 cm) were printed in some sort of cloth instead of the regular photo paper. Adrian's description of the material didn't really help me visualise how it would look like. I had to wait until the very last moment for the surprise. I was thrilled to see how great the photos looked in big size prints, but the material was difficult to handle. I though I would be able to use clips and fisherman string to hang them, but the cloth was much too thin. I went to several fine art shops to find a long clipping poles without much success. Finding frames the size of the photos was impossible, unless with a budget. After a few hours running back and forth in the city and nearly reach the point of giving it all up, an image suddenly came to my mined: why not just tape the pictures straight to the wall? Cheap and simple, that would also make a strong statement. I told Adrian who loved the idea.

Stanley, who was in charge of the exhibition at the GDI was in a state of shock when he saw use the tape. The result was more than convincing. No one had ever done that. The risk of course was to damage the pictures. However, I was willing to sacrifice the pictures. Half-way actions would have led to a tepid result.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Quand on est deux amis....

Dennis just took the bus to the airport. We had ten days together. I must admit, I was a tad apprehensive before he came. I didn't feel we had the chance to really clarify the situation when I was in Paris. I tried to mend the bruises and wrote the song for him, but inside, I was brooding - I curse this tendency of mine. The little boy who then had to suffer all the mistreatments without shedding a tear is now crying a lot inside, especially in recent months.
But those ten days went marvellously. I should never forget the good sides that make a friendship. I thought I'd hardly the time to see him with my crazy schedule, but I did. Most of the work was completed in due time and we could enjoy time together. Song for X has been recorded and the result is more than satisfying. Dennis' eyes were glittering with joy when he heard that first original songs written especially for him. We set plans for other songwriter to pen songs for an upcoming EP next spring. I also introduced him to César Franck's Panis Angelicus that he immediately loved and wanted to include in his program for a Christmas Concert this month. 
Dinners, lunches, tea times, breakfasts... it seems the only thing we did was eat! Having Dennis at home was also a holiday for me. His good naturedness is communicative and I could lift the heavy weights off my mind. We also managed to go to the hotspring and I took him to see Chien Wei's new dance performance at the Songshan Creative Park. Dennis and Chien Wei briefly met when I was in Paris last year and it was a surprise for both of them when Dennis realised the dancer friend was Chien, and when Chien Wei realised the friend I was bringing along was Dennis. 

After Bévinda and Vanessa last year, Dennis is the third friend from Paris to visit me! Even if I like to revel in my solitude, their presence eased down a strong loneliness in me.
I miss him!