EVERYONE IS A PARTICIPANT IN LIFE
COME WITH OPEN MINDS & INSTRUMENTS
Nine years ago, I came to the United States, full of uncertainty about the future. I had a BA in Journalism and Communication, but ironically, after studying it for four years, I realized there was no freedom of speech in China. All the textbooks we used were translated in the United States, so I believed I could find freedom of expression in their country of origin. However, I was wrong. I realized no matter the extent of free speech in the United States, it could not change the situation in China. I became worried and frustrated and my life was left without direction.
Then, one day, I discovered art. Making art has been a healing process for me, surrounding me with supportive friends and religious and artistic communities.
The performance “Sunflower Seeds” illustrated my experience during the nine years after I left my country. I remembered sunflower seeds as being a very popular snack in China. I saw my family eating them when watching TV; my friends eating them when chatting; even people on sides of streets doing nothing else but consuming the seeds. I recognized that the repetitive movement of eating them, the seeds which I believe to symbolize worries, concerns, and anxieties, helped people to reduce and release these pressures in their lives.
During the performance I crawled out from an item of luggage with sunflower seeds covered all over my body, hesitating to expose myself to an unknown environment. Slowly I walked toward the audience and opened my arms—an invitation for them to help me. The viewers removed, tasted, and digested my anxiety and worries, represented by the sunflower seeds. Finally, I felt free.