The Tank launches new (digital) spaces with an excerpt from Ran Xia

The Tank launches new (digital) spaces with an excerpt from Ran Xia
Portrait of Ran Xia. Photo: The Tank.

The Tank is known for providing a home to emerging artists. In a city where access to space grows increasingly limited, the arts presenter offers up free performance opportunities — in addition to other resources like rehearsal space and front-of-house staff — in its two-stage theater complex.

With the theater closed, the Tank is continuing this mission through several initiatives, such as CyberTank. Announced Tuesday, the series serves as a weekly online gathering for the discussion of multidisciplinary arts. While the organization is still working out what the platform might look like going forward, the inaugural live-stream on Tuesday functioned as part fundraiser, part meditation on the question: “How do we choose community over despair?”

Continuing the idea of providing a direct platform for artists, the Tank also launched a weekly email program to share short form works from artists. The first blast included an excerpt by the theater’s resident director Ran Xia, a Shanghai-born, Brooklyn-based playwright, director and sound designer.

In 2015, while waiting on O-1 Visa approval in China, Ran Xia began working on an audio collage project that stitches together the voices of her collaborators. The project — composed of recorded answers to questionnaires about issues the artist cared about, such as government censorship — was captured largely at the start of 2016, around the time of the most recent presidential inauguration.

“It’s become somewhat of a time capsule, of a time we had collectively lived through,” Ran Xia said in a statement about the project. “Listening to some of the recordings today, amidst yet another crisis that has brought people around the world together, they are eerily relevant.”

You can find the full excerpt of the project below. The Tank asks for those who wish to contribute to do so here, while donations to Ran Xia can be made via her Venmo page.

Harmony: an audio time capsule
by Ran Xia

Hey it’s me.
It’s Friday the 13th, 2020,
6:51 pm, Eastern Standard Time.
Here I am, sitting on the floor, in my bedroom, in Brooklyn, (one short block from Prospect Park)
There’s an owl outside my window,
Or perhaps not an owl, another kind of bird,
A melodic refrain, repeating, repeating, repeating
A nonchalant melancholia
So I think of you.

I think of you most days.
Are you awake?

It’s been a minute
I don’t remember your name
Or the sound of your voice
Well we never said our names
We never said anything to each other
Are you awake?

I have been thinking about you.
I remember your left ear is slightly higher than your right
I remember that you had a small scar on your thumb
Your left thumb
It’s shiny
A slip of skin with a different texture
Like a stitch in a story

I think it was
Brooding clouds
Bit of a drizzle
Thunders and lightning
Sunglow that’s so pink it hurts
Musky twilight after a whole day of rain
It was snowing
It was hot
In the middle of a summer that never ended
The day of the solar eclipse
The sky fell midday
I remember the strawberry moon
There were so many stars
There were no stars
No stars
Purple midnight clouds

I wanted to tell you that your shoelaces had come undone
But I didn’t
I didn’t want to be strange
I didn’t want to be a stranger who talked to you
When you don’t talk to strangers
You don’t talk to strangers
You don’t talk to strangers with headphones in, humming a song you happen to know every word of
You don’t talk to strangers on trains, half asleep, in the park, strolling across the park holding the leash of a dog you desperately want to pet
You don’t talk to strangers who might’ve been a mentor, a lover, a sister, a new member of your very own, very peculiar family of odd people because nothing’s scarier than the possibility of intimacy.

Top Image: Portrait of Ran Xia. Photo: The Tank.