Utopian-Bands—rock concert

Utopian-Bands was a performance work on July 14, 2006, that staged a public concert at 2kolegas club in Beijing involving six Chinese rock bands. These bands were CarSickCars, Glamorous Pharmacy (Meihaoyaodian), Hang On The Box, Mafeisan, Naza, and ReTros.

This initiative concluded work begun with the “Mao Songs” project in 2005. The concert celebrated Beijing rock bands as the return of the repressed, as microcosmic utopian communities once stifled by a Chinese Communism focused on national social reorganization.

Utopian-Bands—paper cuts

The six “Utopian-Bands” cutouts, acrylic on paper, are based on photographs that I took during the concert I organized with Yang Licai in Beijing in July 2006. Six bands played. There is a cutout for each band.

Embedded in each image is some text taken from the band’s lyrics or press statement. In each case the text was selected for being suggestive of utopian ideals.

The concert was titled “Utopian-Bands” to invite people to consider these bands as microcosmic utopian communities, in their social organization and music genre. These bands consider themselves part of an “underground” scene alternative to mainstream pop music. They often hybridize Western musical examples from late 70s punk rock, a particularly idealistic moment in popular music.

The cutouts reference a Chinese tradition of “paper cuts” that has many regional variations and a long tradition. I was interested in paper cuts made during the Cultural Revolution, featuring political imagery and quotations from Mao Zedong. I have a small collection of such paper cuts.


Photographs of the concert setup