Zhang Xian, theater director, social choreographer, liminal situationist, live art and dissidential reality maker. He is one of the earliest independent Chinese playwrights of the Post-Mao era. From the very beginning of his career, he has engaged in the underground art movement to cope with the societal pressures of his time. Following a long period of editing and writing for the press, magazines, screenplays and film scripts, he founded several non-governmental art organizations and theatre work spaces.
As a playwright, director, and producer, Zhang Xian has more than ten plays and dances performed in as many cities around China, Europe and America. The first dance performance of Tongue’s Memory of Home won the ZKB Patronage Prize of the Zurich Theatre Spektake1in 2006.
As a film script writer, his film Those Left Behind won the Best Film of the Golden Pyramid Award at the 16th Cairo International Film Festival, while Jasmine Woman won the Judges’ Prize of the 7th Shanghai International Film Festival and became a highly acclaimed blockbuster movie in China. He has also acted as a judge at 18th Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater and DEON Fund’s Young Choreographer Project.
In his capacity as an art organizer and curator, Zhang Xian initiated the independent drama group Z and the dance group Zuhe Niao and established the Hard Han Cafe Theatre. He co-organized the first Chinese non-profit art and performance base, Down Steam Garage, in Shanghai, as well as several of the earliest independent Chinese art festivals, such as the Fringe Festival, Idea Festival, and the Free Cinema Festival.
In recent years, he has also taken inspiration from live art and has since incorporated “Liminal Situations” into his social theatre experiments, bringing to fruition his concept of Everyday Life as a Festival.
The work of German Artist and Author-Director Achim Wieland shifts between the Visual Arts, Stage Performance and Writing. He is a founding member of the performance collective SRSLYyours ––a group of international performers, writers, visual artists and dramaturges devoted to an inclusive and non-hierarchical content development process around socio-political themes. Their devised-performance Fear Industry has been selected in the Category “Best Theater Performances on Berlin Stages” (Berlinale Issue, Zitty Magazine) and is on Tour since 2015 (Berlin,
Montenegro, Stuttgart, Zurich, Gothenburg, Athens, Malmö). In 2016/2017, he was the Artistic Director of the project Uniting the Mediterranean Sea commissioned by the Cultural Capital of Europe/Pafos and has directed the Bi-Communal Project/Performance Myths and Tales across the Divide commissioned by the Goethe-Institut Cyprus. After Egoland (2017, Sweden/Cyprus/Germany), the collective’s latest production Tea Ceremony (Germany/Japan/Cyprus) will be on Tour from Spring 2019. Since March 2018, Achim Wieland is the Artistic Director of the Buffer-Fringe Performing Arts Festival in Cyprus. Born and raised in Germany, Achim Wieland holds a MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design/USA and has taught and lectured throughout Europe, North
America, and the Middle East. Prior clients and projects include work for the Deutsche Guggenheim, New York University, the Bronx Museum, Harvard University or the J. Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles and his work has been awarded and exhibited at the American Center for Design (ACD) Chicago, Cultural Capital of Europe/Cyprus, Museum of Contemporary Arts Thessaloniki, Jan van Eyck Akademie/Netherlands, Explosive Festival/Bremen, Dance Platform Cyprus, the Experimental Film/Video Festival Strange Screen, among others. He held teaching positions in the Design and Graduate Program of the Rhode Island School of Design/USA, HWZ (Switzerland), VCU/Q (Virginia Commonwealth University/Qatar), F+F School for Media and Design Zurich and the University of Nicosia (Cyprus). He conducts workshops and gives lectures internationally, exhibits independent art projects, and directs performance and theatre work staged throughout Europe.
SIMONA SEMENIČ (1975) is a Slovenian playwright and performer. She completed her dramaturgy studies at the Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) in Ljubljana.
Simona is a recipient of the Prešeren Fund Award, the highest Slovenian national award for artistic creation. She is also a three-time winner of the Grum Prize, the highest national award to be bestowed on a playwright in her native Slovenia. Her first award winning play „5boys.si“ (2008) was translated into twelve languages, staged in several countries in Europe, USA and in the Middle East and also published in several countries outside her homeland. She also won awards for „24hrs“ (2006) and „seven cooks, four soldiers and three sophias“ (2014) and was nominated for 1981 (2013) and „this apple, made of gold“ (2016). Her other plays include „you didn’t forget you just don’t remember anymore“ (2007), „feast“ (2010), „blame it all on donnie darko“ (2011), „sophia“ (2011), „we, the European corpses“ (2015), „the last love letter“ (2017). Productions of her plays won several awards in Slovenia and abroad.
Simona also writes, directs and performs autobiographical experimental theatre shows, which include „9 easy pieces“ (2007, with artistic group Preglej), „I, the victim.“ (2007), „do me twice“ (2009), „43 happy ends“ (2010, with artistic group Preglej), „Kapelj and Semenič Under Construction“ (2012, with Barbara Kapelj), „Bulc and Semenič For Sale“ (2013, with Mare Bulc) and „the second time“ (2014). Her shows received outstanding notices from the audience and from theatre critics and Simona performed them at several festivals in Slovenia and abroad.
She has also been collaborating with Ivan Talijančić, Janez Janša and other theatre directors and choreographers as a co-writer and a dramaturge.
Simona lives in Ljubljana with her two sons.
OUR ARTIST AT RISK RESIDENTS
Spartak Khachanov is from Kiev, Ukraine, where he was studying in his fourth year at the Kiev Art Academy before being expelled by its Director for making ‘immoral’ artworks. The decision appears to be politically motivated and followed a longstanding period of tension between the artist and the University.
The expulsion followed an art action in which Khachanov placed several dozen white plaster soldiers and military vehicles, all with suggestive phallic features, in a miniature military parade that occupied the corridor of the Art Academy. He has since received threats from the far right in the Ukraine. Following allegations that he is anti-Ukrainian Khachanov argues that he simply wishes to express his pacifism, something that is compatible with concern for his country.
Artists at Risk’s AR–Safe Haven Sofia is co-curated by Radar Sofia and the Helsinki-based curatorial and residency platform Perpetuum Mobile as part of the Nordic network funded by the Nordic Culture Point “Immigré Artists (IA) & Artists at Risk (AR)”.