Natasha Lushetich

Performance Research

According François Julien (2012) China had no concept of time until the early 20th century when the Japanese jikan was adapted to shi jian. The reason why there was no need to think time as an abstract ‘envelope’ is the Taoist and Chan Buddhist tradition in which there is no separation between being and becoming, matter and time. Chinese verbs thus have no conjugation of the ‘I was, I am, I will be’ kind, characteristic of all Indo-European languages, for the simple reason that there is no notion of movement in time and therefore no concept of past, present and future. Instead, there is the ‘moment’ – the eternal now, constancy in change, the moment to act, and the occasion (the marking of the otherwise imperceptible process of permanent change). Set against this backdrop, this article examines Song Dong’s conceptual performance work by juxtaposing the Taoist notion of wuwei (non-action) to the politics of time.

→ Performance Research: On Time