b i o g r a p h y
WeiZen is a Performing Artist and Deviser who brings together phonic-vocals and movement. Her performances transform and extend mundane postures, sounds and everyday objects or speech into poetic prayer. She excavates linguistic processes searching out their connection to identity. Her work also draws upon a lineage of Chinese immigrants who have lived for several generations in Melaka (Malaysia) and Java and extends it to her status as an Asian immigrant in Australia. She is fascinated by ritual, in particular the animistic rituals still practised by Chinese clans in her hometown and throughout South-East Asia. For her, ritual, imagery-work and accoutrements are distilled in performance through the visceral vocal-body. The concept of communing with the space of performance and coalescing an architectural relationship between body, voice/sound and site is another key in her performance-creation research.
Through Australia Council's funding to study and develop Performances, Interpreted & Reimagined of Asian Animistic & Shamanistic Rituals (2016-2018), she directed a team of artists with her associate director Iqbal Barkat, devising and presenting a performance-installation inhabitation, t h e s u b t l e b e i n g s at Articulate project space in March 2018. Elements of video projection, costume, sculptural pieces (human hair, synthetic hair, synthetic horse hair fibre, mirror film), text, choreography as well as audience participation and response were integrated into the work. Four 45-minute performances occurred over three days, with variations each time that included the audience.
She has also developed through the framework of Constructs of Pessimism, a new piece of work Subterranean with Linda Luke, performed at the Melaka Arts and Performance Festival 2017 with the assistance of Create NSW.
Running concurrently is a performance series Stories from the Body (S F T B) that began in 2014. S F T B #1 was presented in 3 festivals across Indonesia and incorporated into one of the scenes for Palimpsest Performance #1 at Woodford Academy. This series started as a methodology to re-trace lineages disrupted, myths that have been distorted and stories fragmented as a result of migration and time, from the South Fujian Province of China to Java, Singapore, Melaka and now Australia. The latest in the series, S F T B #5 was devised for Platform 2017 curated by De Quincey Co, S F T B #6 was devised and performed for the Melbourne and Sydney Festival of Death and Dying. S F T B #7 was part of a performance-installation created for The Katoomba Falls 3X6 Kiosk Residency funded by Create NSW.
From 2014-July 2015, she was the Co-Initiator with Alan Schacher for a group performance project Unappeased, inspired by the metaphor of the hungry ghost and the Daoist tangki-shaman rituals in Malaysia, with funding from Australia Council Creative Asia Partnership. This resulted in a Malaysian Creative Development Residency, workshop and showcase at penangpac theatre, and 'Month in the Country' Albury residency at Hothouse Theatre.
A performance improvisation event she initiated in the Blue Mountains, called Sound Bites Body presented its 23rd programming featuring 13 artists from sound, installation and dance disciplines at Bilpin International Ground for Creative Initiatives (BigCi) in February 2016. As a member of the Splinter Orchestra, she participated in a recording project at Lake Mungo and performed with them for Tectonics at Adelaide Festival of the Arts 2016, and helped launch the album m u n g o in January 2017.
WeiZen was 1 out 4 artists in Body as Material: Solo Practice, a partnership between Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre, Bundanon Trust, FORM Dance Projects and Critical Path. She was also invited to live with the Ogijima Island community to devise workshops and adapt works to site locations. These were presented on the island and Port Takamatsu for the Asian Performing Arts Market Japan, part of Setouchi Triennale 2016.
WeiZen was the Co-Founder and Music Director of TUFA, a South-East Asian fusion musical theatrical and visual group, presenting over 90 concerts and releasing 2 albums from 1999-2004. TUFA debuted with bassist George Xenikis and visual artists Del Kathryn Barton and Katthy Cavaliere at The Studio, Sydney Opera House. Iqbal Barkat was the Visual and Performance Director in some of the major concerts including Phoenix Love at The Studio, Beggar Queen at Government House, Femalia at Bangarra Dance Theatre and Mardi Gras Festival.