Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Critical Practices Research Group

Silk Road

The Silk Road was an ancient network of trading routes dating back nearly two thousand years. In connecting East and West, it represents the first wave of globalization. The connecting of eastern and western markets led to much wealth and the intermixing of culture, politics and religion. Valuable silks, spices, jade, and other goods moved west, while China received gold and other precious metals, ivory, and glass products.

The Landscape Map of the Silk Road (approximately 30 metres in length) was drawn on silk scroll over 700 years ago. It shows as many as 211 geographical coordinates, including important cities such as Dunhuang in China, Samarkand in Uzbekistan, Herat in Afghanistan, Isfahan in Iran and the Syrian capital of Damascus. The map shows China’s understanding of world geography, before Western maps were introduced. It was taken overseas in the 1930s, but returned to China as recently as 2017, now held in Beijing’s Palace Museum Collection. A rendering of the map was specially prepared for Itinerant Objects at Tate Exchange, under the direction of Feng Jie, Associate Professor, Southwest University, and with the kind support of the Neutral Institute(得道跨文化研究中心)and Southwest University(西南大学).

The map was presented in connection with Tea for Five, a series of tea ceremony performances. These were devised and performed by artist Neja Tomšič. On the Friday and Saturday, shorter performances were followed by guest talks, with a full-length tea ceremony performance on Sunday. Tea for Five is set around five hand painted ceramic tea sets based on traditional Chinese gongfu designs. The work takes the form of a happening, a Chinese tea ceremony, during which Tomšič tells true stories about forgotten episodes in the history of China. As a story of the opium ships unfolds, the tea ritual reveals an understanding of profound consequences of tea and opium trade on the political world today. Taking the convivial setting of the tea ceremony, all participants were welcomed to drink tea, listen to storytelling based upon the historic Silk Road, and then to engage in debates about today’s global infrastructure for movement and exchange. Tea for Five was also performed in the Winchester Gallery, a part of the beta testing that took place prior to the Tate Itinerant Objects programme.

Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image
Slideshow image

Neja Tomšič is a visual artist, poet, and writer whose interdisciplinary practice merges different disciplines and media such as drawing, photography, poetry, performance, and music. By uncovering overlooked and often hidden stories from history, her passion is to rethink dominant historical narratives, researching into particularities, and creating situations where new understandings of the present can be formed. Performative elements in her projects explore possible projections of history into the subjective present of individual visitors.

http://ne-ja.com/tea-for-five.html

Winchester School of Art at Tate ExchangeItinerant Objects at Tate Exchange
Privacy Settings