Skin Drumming/Jue Chang, a gathering of percussion instruments by world-renowned visual artist Chen Zhen, a friend of Tan Dun’s who passed away in December 2000, was exhibited at the Tokyo Palace in Paris, France in 2001. Jue Chang, first produced in 1998, was then called Fifty Strokes to Each/Cinquante coups à chacun.
For the 2001 exhibition at the Tokyo Palace, Tan Dun created and dedicated to Chen Zhen a visual music work, Body Drumming/Jue Chang. A mode of improvised performance, Body Drumming/Jue Chang, is founded on the elements of structure and composed motifs where the sounds circle in and around Chen Zhen’s paintings and installations. Visitors were invited to play on the drums in a hall with a hundred chairs and five suspended beds held by skins.
Tan Dun’s work is based on the concept that percussion has a dual nature: the dynamic between the members of a percussion section, and the intimate contact between the skin of the drummers touching the skin of the drums. The public is invited to participate and intervene physically in the exhibit, in order to personally experience this intimate exchange between skins.
According to Tan Dun, “not only do we use different arts of our hands to hit, scrape, rub and caress the skins of the drum, but we also use our feet, our thighs, our torso and even the top of our heads in order to make new sounds. Our physical and musical reactions should penetrate directly into the body and the soul. The percussionists thus feel pain, heat and energy.” The public is invited to participate and intervene physically in the exhibit, in order to personally experience this intimate exchange between skins.