A Trip to Vienna (2020)
9 1月 2022
A Trip to Vienna, 2020
The artist wrote “I have done my time and my trip to Vienna in this room” on the wall painting on April 3, 2020, before leaving his quarantine room

A Trip to Vienna

documentation (ink, pencil, colored pencil on paper, polaroids, index sticky notes, plastic bags, found objects)

The first performance art created by the artist was completed during his quarantine at a Vienna Hotel in Shanghai. He was quarantined for a total of 14 days, from noon on March 22, 2020, to noon on April 3, 2020, including the day he was stranded at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport on April 21, 2020.

By documenting daily life in his quarantine room, the artist recorded his 12 full days of quarantine on 12 pieces of A4 paper. Besides, he researched Vienna on the Internet and made up his travel stories in the city.

The top half of the 12 pieces of A4 paper are checklists that contain the twice-a-day body temperature measurements, room disinfection, and room ventilation that he ought to do in the quarantine. In the second half, the artist used diaries, colored pencil drawings, and Polaroids to make up stories of a trip to Vienna.

Two floor plans of the original hotel room and the rearranged hotel room
Original hotel room
Rearranged hotel room
Date: 22/03/2020
Travel diary:

On March 20, 2020, I flew from Melbourne to Shanghai before the border closure in Australia due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I landed at Shanghai Pudong Airport in the evening and spent a whole night at the airport. On 21st, I arrived at Vienna Group’s Venus International Hotel in the afternoon for quarantine.

This hotel is decorated in a European style. I was arranged to be quarantined in room 555. This is a double room, but only one bed was made up. I will spend my 14 days quarantine here, the main problem I am facing for the upcoming quarantine is consuming time. After observing this room, I want to make a performance work in the next 14 days. I have never been to Vienna, but I’d like to imagine the quarantine in this room as a trip to Vienna.

I redesigned the original hotel room and set it up into different areas, except for the bathroom and minibar section. I rearranged it into a room with a living room, a bedroom, a study room, a balcony, and a gym. In this way, I can do different activities in these places accordingly in the following days, and conceptually my activity space has been expanded as well.

According to the hotel’s instructions, there are several things that must be done every day, such as disinfecting the room and taking body temperature. I have read articles suggesting that drinking water every 15 minutes can effectively prevent infection by the COVID-19, so I set 65 alarms to remind me to drink water from 8 am to midnight every day while I am up, and I asked the hotel for some A4 paper to make a checklist to record it. At the same time, another checklist was made to record what I have to do every day, and I will write my travel diary down on the blank below the checklist.

I find it interesting that even if I were in Vienna I would still be self-quarantined in a hotel alone under today’s COVID-19 outbreak circumstance because I always travel alone. I want to name it A Trip to Vienna.
Date: 23/3/2020
Travel diary:

Today I spent a lot of time drawing a floor plan of both the original hotel room and the room I rearranged. I can only use my keyboard to draw straight lines since I don’t have a ruler, it is really hard to draw accurate dimensions with my keyboard. The pencil in the room also needs to be sharpened, but I don’t have a knife or pencil sharpener either. What I did was open the window and grind the pencil with the concrete surface of the building. As the drawing is a small one, I need the pencil to be sharp in order to draw thin lines, so I have to grind it more often. I did it 8 times in total!!!

When I started thinking about what I knew about Vienna, I found that I only knew a few things. In fact, I don’t know much about Austria or Vienna. The only things I know are the Wiener Musikverein, Viennese Classical School, The Danube, and the movie Before Sunrise. Of course, Mozart, and the artists Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.

I asked my friend who had traveled to Vienna about this city, some of the photos I received are very similar to Nanjing Road in Shanghai. She told me the food in Vienna was not delicious at all. I also asked another friend who studied music and wanted to know something about the Viennese Classical School. He suggested me to read the biography of Mozart. However, I am quarantined, don’t know how can I get this book, maybe download a PDF.

He told me that The Blue Danube is a very famous Austrian waltz. I thought I hadn’t heard it, but I realized I had heard it many times in movies and on TV before when I played it. The melody! But I didn’t know it was The Blue Danube.
Date: 24/3/2020
Travel diary:

There are two factories outside my window, and their roofs are blue. The sun shines into my room every morning when I wake up, and it spreads out on the blue roofs. The sparkling on the roofs makes them look like the surface of a lake or ocean. I know Vienna is one of the 10 countries that the Danube flows through, I reckon these two blue roofs are the Danube here, Vienna. I turned up my speaker to play The Blue Danube loudly, along with the melody I filmed the Danube outside the window with my iPhone. I was so happy and excited because I believe I have a good job done. It is pretty much like a music video for The Blue Danube. The colored pencil I bought was delivered at lunchtime. Then I started to draw the Danube outside my window, I used blue mostly and a little bit yellow. I would like to name it The Blue Danube
Date: 25/3/2020
Travel diary:

Was busy working with our studio in Beijing during the day.

Called my friend Gao Ludi in the afternoon, had a video call with mom to discuss my Fine Art study at UAL. Video called Stefan, my friend in Shanghai as well, he asked me to go to his place after my quarantine.

I bought some fruits, chips, and whisky, my favorite, cause the food in Vienna is really bad. My body temperature was 36.8, I was extremely nervous about it. I opened my whisky and 6 cans of beer to celebrate when it came down to 36.5. Hope I will stay safe.

I found another Danube River in my room, I took a selfie in front of it, the view is not too bad.
Date: 26/3/2020
Travel diary:

My temperature is always around 37 degrees today, this is the highest I got so far during my quarantine. Although my friends told me that 37 degrees is okay, I am still stressed out. In fact, it has become higher since yesterday afternoon, the rising temperature did seriously scare me. I believe my temperature is always relatively high, but under the current circumstance, I am still very nervous. I have been taking temperature every each hour today, and now it’s 37.1 degrees. Maybe it’s because I’m too nervous, maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time working on this project every day, and I’m too excited while I am doing it. Or maybe it’s because the room is not well ventilated and it’s raining outside, that means the air pressure is low, that’s why I cannot breathe smoothly. However, I can feel that my face and ears are very hot.

I don’t have my mind for Vienna all day, and I haven’t done any research at all. I am afraid I would be infected, and the fear prevented me from thinking anything. I just kept taking temperature, the only time my temperature dropped down to 36.5 degrees was because I took off my top and half-naked. But after I put it back on, my temperature rose up again. I was thinking that if I got infected, I might not be able to finish this project, and if it happened it would make me very frustrated. I think I should go to sleep earlier today. That’s it. Maybe I’m too sensitive and a bit vulnerable now, it’s better to be an optimist.

Hope everything is gonna be alright tomorrow. Hope I can stay safe. Hope I can finish this project.
Date: 27/3/2020
Travel diary:

I visited the Schönbrunn Palace today. I noticed that a part of the ceiling is broken in Franz Joseph I’s bedroom, I picked up all the 754 fragments on the floor and took them away. Franz Joseph I was the monarch of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and he died in 1916 because of pneumonia.

A Chinglish phrase “Funny Mud Pee” appeared on the Internet recently, and it is related to the current outbreak of COVID-19.

I think they are all somehow related to civilization and to COVID-19 as well. The old civilization and system are destroyed, and the new civilization and system are gradually being established in another way.
Date: 28/3/2020
Travel diary:

I always like to give the place where I live a deeper clean during the weekends, I found some new collections during the cleaning today.

I guess the last guest may be a woman who likes eating sunflower seeds and may probably eat them while calling her friends nearby the window. Sometimes she eats on the bed, before I rearranged the room, my living room was where she slept. Her heels may have been worn out due to wearing high heels, that’s why she left a used band-aid here.
Date: 29/3/2020
Travel diary:

It was raining all day, and the temperature dropped significantly. There were not many people outside, the Danube was quite calm. The weather made me feel so peaceful, so I decided to learn how to play The Blue Danube with my harmonica. I practiced it on the balcony during the day, but I have only mastered a bit of it. Want to spend some time every day practicing during the next week until I master the main melody. It’s simple but beautiful.
Date: 30/3/2020
Travel diary:

Today I was busy working with our studio in Beijing until evening, so there is not much time to practice. But I had a very special experience during my quarantine here, which is we had to put 10 tablets of chlorine disinfectant in the toilet before going to stool, the disinfectant that evaporates in the air makes my eyes feel irritating. So I wear swimming goggles to protect my eyes when I use the toilet. Wearing goggles and the disinfectant smell reminds me of a swimming pool.

I am swimming!!!

Although I don’t have time to practice today, I don’t stop practicing. In the afternoon, I rolled out the photos that I didn’t take as what I wanted on cardboard, and I found that they looked pretty much like a storyboard of a movie. I believe it is also a good idea to make these photos into a work, they are montages.

In fact, I was thinking about the quality in art today. Artists not only produce quality but also use quality. Bad quality is still quality, converting quality is our ability. As I am in the toilet, but I can swim. I am quarantined, but I can have a trip to Vienna.
Date: 31/3/2020
Travel diary:

I did nothing today because I wanted to experience the emptiness and boredom in quarantine that my friends told me. It’s terrible, because I always have something to do, and I always feel time flies. But today I didn’t do anything, didn’t check an email, didn’t watch one minute of a movie, didn’t read even a page of a book. Most of the day I was in bed, chatting with friends, and waiting for the next 15 minutes, but it felt longer than ever.
Date: 1/4/2020
Travel diary:

Visited Erwin Wurm’s solo exhibition today. The first time I saw his one minute sculpture in his catalogue was in university. Tried it today, and it is really so hard to reach one minute. Also, one minute takes longer than I think.
Date: 2/4/2020
Travel diary:

I am leaving tomorrow. The sun was shining and sparkling on the Danube. I poured a glass of Buteo, just wanted to enjoy my last day here.