Jasmin Kent Rodgman, nineteen ways of looking (2020). Image courtesy of the artist.

Jasmin Kent Rodgman, nineteen ways of looking (2020). Image courtesy of the artist.

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) and Chinese Arts Now (CAN) are excited to announce that they will commission artist and composer Jasmin Kent Rodgman to create nineteen ways of looking, a digital opera that responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. The work will be shared digitally via online platforms supported by CFCCA and CAN in November 2020, with an opportunity to be showcased as part of the CAN festival in February 2021.

Responding to the portrayal of and prejudice displayed towards people of Chinese and East Asian heritage in the West during the COVID-19 pandemic, nineteen ways of looking is a multidisciplinary performance designed to be presented and experienced specifically on social media platforms—an ‘Instagram opera’.

The work will explore nineteen different perspectives of the pandemic that relate to isolation, media and mental health. These will be presented on social media as a moving image or still photography, accompanied by various combinations of music, dance and spoken word. Shot entirely on camera phone, each Instagram ‘square’ will contain a miniature chapter of this semi-linear narrative, unfolding post by post, unravelling in real time for viewers. Audience comments are welcomed and will build up over time, evolving into a diary of collective thought as people respond to the work’s narrative.

For the project, Rodgman will collaborate with writer Chen Si’an whose prose and libretto juxtapose her experience in China with Chinese experiences in the West. Director and choreographer Si Rawlinson is on board as the project’s actor/movement artist. His unique approach to dance – fusing hip hop and contemporary styles – will create a fluidity in style and dynamic range of expression. This will be accompanied by the distinctive sound of a countertenor, the highest male vocal register that will conjure feelings of awe and angst throughout the opera.