Lian Guodong and Lei Yan
A poem about the unkown

Across the Great Wall we can reach every corner in the world.
Quote from the allegedly first electronic mail supposed to be sent from China into the international scientific networks via computer interconnection between Beijing and Karlsruhe, West Germany

As we started our project we conceived our choreography as an invitation to anticipate joyfully the prospects of our species that is in permanent coevolution on this planet with all sorts of organisms and machines ever since. Not least, because we believe that only against the backdrop of imagined futures we become capable to engage with our present lives in a critical way. Then Covid 19 started to spread around the world. Suddenly the very name of our project has been charged with an additional, uncanny, layer of meaning: Under the threat of a new respiratory virus the Unknown turned into an existential Uncertainty. For weeks, our little team, whose members are working between Beijing, Florence, Berlin and New York tried to revise the initial impulse for our project under this new situation where travels are interrupted, assemblies and first-hand exchange made impossible, and a large array of institutions brought to a halt.
In this newfound scenario we asked ourselves: Can we still write poems? If so, will we be able to write it as planned – through our bodies? Can we present our poem live to an audience? To what extent will a rehearsal process that has become fully based on remote technologies affect the outcome of our choreography? And most importantly: (how) is it possible to stay faithful to our initial spirit of imagining future as the resource for change and hope?

Theatres. Ships. Cars. Planes. Airports. Parliaments. Rehearsals.…All the Institutions and technologies currently so much affected and brought to a halt by Covid 19 could be described as “media”- borrowing the understanding of the term “media” from Marshall Mc Luhan, who identified it with “extensions of man”.
Internet. Streaming of theatre and exhibitions. E-Commerce. Classrooms based on remote learning. Parliaments that are holding their sessions online. Modeling the future extent of the pandemic through AI based algorithms …All these institutions and technologies are currently (re-)invented in order to control the pandemic and can be considered as “media”, too.

Mc Luhan believed that every media is already its own and fixed message: The evolution of media would shape culture in a more significant way than the content (conveyed by?) of the media.
In contrast to Mc Luhan’s deterministic view of media, we regard every medium as a poem to the unknown. No medium is in itself a closed and total story. It is all about the use that a society makes of a medium that determines its meaning. These uses can change over time. Societies can change over time.

In recent decades there was hardly any situation such as the one associated with Covid 19. We are experiencing a tremendous redefinition of the media-world we are inhabiting and which, to a large extent, is making us. We are currently living in a poem to the unkown. But are we its senders or its receivers? Can we decipher it without desiring a future world in which we want to live?


director, choreographer: Lian Guodong, Lei Yan
performers: Fan Lu, Qian Tingting, Xu Yiming
light design: Wang Jingjing
sound design: Letizia Renzini
visual design: Qiu Yu
dramaturg: Kai Tuchmann
producer: Fabrizio Massini
assistant producer: Xu Li
commissioned by: YAP – Young Artist Platform for Dance (China)
co-producers: Fabbrica Europa (Italy), Goethe-Institut / International Coproduction Fund, Theater im Pumpenhaus (Germany), Shanghai International Dance Center Theater (China)













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