A/Eltern 1 Fonga Mui

For the performance I collected from the staff and accomplices worn shirts. Fonga Mui and I are sitting at a simple table that can be seen everywhere. It is hinged and made of plastic, with a wood look plate. We cut the t-shirts into stripes. Due to her work with textile fabric in the factory, she versed cuts the fabric into stripes.
 I show her an Amish Rug Weaving technique, which she understands quickly. Nevertheless, during the three-hour performance, she prefers to cut  the t-shirts rather than making a rug. I make a round rug, in which I weave the colors of the flag of China and Macao, as far as I am able to according to the existing material.
The song she teaches me is from Theresa Teng of the 80s 90s from mainland China. It is about native feelings that arise when you think of the village of your childhood.
We sing again and again while working, she has a nice voice with a vibrato.
After three hours I get up, while Fonga Mui continues to cut shirts into stripes.
I cut the red yellow center out of the rug and a circular segment out of shirt I wear. I choose a spot at the level of the navel, the heart area is meant, because we both have a heart defect and are longing for a warm home.
I use the tool, a so-called tooth brush needle, to scratch a spiral into my skin around my navel. Then I patch the hole with the red and yellow piece of the weaving. I put Fonga Mui the ring around her neck., which is left of the weaving piece and is held rather in shades of green. Hand in hand we stand in our workroom and sing the Chinese song.
My performance in Macao deals with the changeability of China's older population. Mostly she spent a simple life in the countryside together with many siblings during her childhood.

At the time of the Cultural Revolution, for example, Fonga Mui, my 72-year-old protagonist, was thirty years old, so in working age. She was driven by the rhythm and doctrine of her job in her life. How one lived and what to do, was determined by the shifts and circumstances of the factory. At retirement age, people are often unoccupied and lonely because their children live in another city due to their  own job circumstances. They meet with their peers for sport and to play games.
I experience the elderly population as very shy with strangers. The elderly do not like to reveal much of their lives. Everything is all right, even though most of the people I've talked to admit they are lonely and have very limited financial resources available. Interestingly, everyone looks much younger than they really are. They keep fit by group sport. The sport in the park and the choreographed dancing on the squares to music is usually their only social contact.
Fonga Mui joins her Christian community and has a son and a daughter living in the same city. She calls herself  a very lucky one.
I personally tried to get closer to Fonga Mui. My hope was that she would invite me to her home. Our non-verbal communication is good. She laughs a lot about my mistakesI make by learning the song. I feel comfortable with her and also feel that she enjoys working with me. Surely she has agreed to the favor of her son(the curator of the festival), to participate in the project. Only later will I realize that it is not possible to lure older people in China out of their comfort zone and get them involved in an art project. Fonga Mui was a godsend, maybe also because Macao is less regulated than mainland China.
The encounter with Fonga Mui caused ambivalent feelings. Although I have the feeling that we have really met and both have benefited. Being together was nice, kind and loving. However, I can not say in retrospect who Fonga Mui is and whether she is doing well in the life she has got.
I have understood that for these people the purpose of life is the life and the survival itself.

September 2018
MIPAF, Macao International Performance Art Festival
Gallery at Rua do Volong, No 15

Protagonist: Fonga Mui