Furen Boogie

In 1972 after spending a vacation at the residence of the Maharani of Porbandar, T’ang Haywen and his artist friend Andre Dzierzynski went to Goa where they settled in a small bungalow by the beach and meddled with the community of hippies in search of a better world. There he met the film maker Tom Tam and his girlfriend Martha Sandler who were at the end of a long journey throughout India. Tom was also born in Fujian and had migrated with his parents to the USA.

Many years later Martha recounted their meeting with T’ang in Goa: “T’ang was laying down these sheets of cardboard on a table, two together, and painted as if he was following an automatic process. He was fast, processing one work after the other. Then he would stop and enjoy the day, walking on the beach, meeting people, cooking and eating. He was rather silent, smiley and discreet and I was this tall American woman hanging out with two Chinese men...”

Throughout their trip to India, Tom had shot footage where Martha was the main character. They were to become Furen Boogie, the Boogie of the lady, at the end of which Haywen and Andre Dzierzynski appear on Goa’s beach. Furen Boogie is a psychedelic journey well in the spirit of this time, not only because it is built with a staccato of images - successive flashes of an initiatory journey that attracts or rejects you - but also because it echoes the New ideas on communication and image that the 1960s had popularized in America. The new consciousness of the world, of life, and of the human experience that was to come, had to happen through play, experimentation, and travel in space as well as within oneself.

Furen Boogie is also an unprecedented, though highly condensed, vision of India in the 1970s. A marginal vision by a Chinese immigrant in America and nurtured by a new theory of communication.

In 1973, Tom visited Haywen in Paris and saw the piles of works kept as they were left after being painted. Side by side the piles of left sides and of right sides of diptychs.

In Goa they had discussed about the creative process: Tom as an American film maker enlightened by the discoveries of Marshall McLuhan ("The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.) and T'ang as a Chinese who had fled Confucius to live his life and become the instrument of his own creations.

They understood the part they could derive, on one hand from a machine able to shoot image after image then regroup them in a film containing 24 images by second, and on the other hand the stacked result of T'ang's visions. T'ang offered to put end to end the images at hand.

The result, T'ang Boogie, may very well be the first “film d’artiste” by a modern Chinese painter, indeed a meeting between ink and film still very pertinent nowadays, maybe more pertinent in our contemporary age.