Touchstone is thrilled to welcome our Journey from the East project international partners: The Utopia Group. Headed by multidisciplinary artists Deng Dafei and He Hai, Lisa and Jp were introduced to the artists of the Utopia Group thanks to Norman Girardot and got to chat with them in person on their trip to China – you can read about their visits with the artists here and here.
Initiated in 2008, Utopia Group has quickly built a reputation for artistic creations that connect cultural research with inspiration and imagination. Their production of The Palace of Puzzle, presented in Scotland, was a theatricade memorial of James Legge, a 19th century Scottish missionary to China. Looking at photos of the performance, the visuals are strikingly reminiscent of Touchstone’s own Don Quixote of Bethlehem.
Excited to have found kindred artistic spirits in China, Touchstone has since started getting Dafei and Hai caught up with the ongoing project. They write:
We are interested in the former works and working style of the theatre. These dramas are not constrained in the theatre but are present in the public spaces; this is very similar to the working style of Utopia Group. Although works of Utopia Group belong to contemporary art, they are similar to drama in form. Therefore, we are interested in working with a unique theatre like Touchstone.
Second, we are interested in the theme of the program: Chinese in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is said to be one of the places welcoming the first batch of Chinese immigrants in America. With the economic development in China, the increasing amount of Chinese immigrants in America has a huge impact on local people’s life and has aroused their concerns. As Chinese artists, we have an interest in the history and status of Chinese immigrants in America. Through stories gathered from them, we hope we can see the relations between the Chinese immigrants and local mainstream community and other immigrants groups, and we hope to learn how they treat and get on with each other. If Chinese immigrants are at the margin of American society for their national personality and seldom speak their minds in public, we are trying to make them heard in this drama.
Stay tuned for more news of how the Utopia Group artists begin integrating with Touchstone on the project! We’re looking forward to welcoming them to Bethlehem.