Our world needs dialogue urgently!
An interview with Tulip Pavilion, a cross-cultural communication platform in the Netherlands aiming to bring Chinese culture & art to the people across the world
“Chinese culture & art is a unique way to get to know the country and people, not only because of the past but also – or perhaps especially – because of the future.” J Oyang
TP: Hi Julie! First of all, please tell us something about yourself.
JO: I’m afraid I have been a somewhat unpredictable traveller through life (laughs). I was born in the southeastern Chinese city Kunming, aka the “city of the eternal spring”. I grew up along the ancient Tea and Horse Road, aka the Southern Silk Road. I have vivid memories of my childhood filled with colours and scents of flowers and mountain herbs. I believe it is my birthplace that has triggered something in me and has inspired me to become the creative spirit that I am today. In 1990s, I left for London to study and then for the Netherlands. With excellent study results, I was admitted to the University of Leiden, where, a year later, I received a scholarship to study in Japan. As soon as I came back to Europe, I travelled intensively through European continent to know the cultures and peoples better. Until today, I have been very grateful to the profound knowledge of the West, not only through reading, but also through these personal experiences. At the same time, I have been engaged in various culture & media projects. In 2016, I was hired by XiN Media (The Hague) and worked as Editor-in-Chief for XiN Magazine, a bilingual (EN/CN) lifestyle magazine. In the same year, I decided to go back to China to be close to my ailing parents. When my visa ended, I returned to Europe. After a long detour to Denmark, now I’m finally back home!
TP: It’s an odyssey indeed (laughs). You haven’t been an idler, though. You are visiting professor at a university in Macau. You work as a writer, columnist and visual artist. You are also involved in several projects as media professional.
JO: They are all me. I love what I do. Having lived between many worlds through my life, I have realized that difference is important, but dialogue is even more important. Our world needs dialogue urgently! Dialogue teaches empathy and because of this, it can change you in a positive, constructive way through an experience. It is with this sense of urgency I started looking for teaching opportunities. I want to be actively involved in shaping our future through class interaction with young people and students. At Saint Joseph University in Macau, I have had the opportunity to develop two of my own modules, both focusing on creativity coaching through art and literature. In my teaching, I try to give equal attention to Chinese art, philosophy and literary works simply because China – as a cultural idea – has become more and more relevant every day. It makes sense to make people, both young and old, proficient in Chinese culture and art which is largely unknown to outside world. Teaching is in this way both meaningful and inspiring.
In order to encourage more dialogue, in 2018, I also did a live calligraphy performance “What’s the name of the Little Mermaid?” in collaboration with Beijing Danish Cultural Centre. I took Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairytale as concept. On the Town Hall Square in Copenhagen city centre, I tried to find a name for our heroin with people from the whole world, which I teach them to write in Chinese calligraphy! It was a dialogue both moving and nurturing.
TP: You are also a writer and public speaker.
JO: I prefer calling myself China content creator. I publish in English, Dutch and Chinese. Currently, I’m a columnist at Hoje Macau and write regularly about Chinese culture from cinema, to art, to music. I have the plan to turn my columns and other writing into a book: Chinese Civilization through a Woman’s Perspective. Last year, I was also invited to speak at Made in China Festival in Ghent, Belgium about contemporary Chinese female issues. I love speaking to an audience!
TP: Would you call yourself art activist?
JO: I believe art is dynamic and our interaction with art evolves all the time. It reflects our changing lives and experiences. China has changed drastically in the past decades. I want to approach the subject creatively and offer people surprises.
TP: One of your surprises is your engaging approach to the ancient Chinese art of calligraphy that aims to connect people.
JO: From as early as 2000 B.C. calligraphy has been considered a supreme form of not only visual art. Calligraphy is considered the 7th martial art. In order to make the ink stroke flow naturally, to let the brush move freely across a thin piece of paper, one must face his inner self, which is a superior struggle of the most testing kind. Wherever there is distress, worry or swiftness of action, your brush will tell you and reveal your sub-conscious. It is an art of harmony. Based on this, I have developed some ideas for corporate team building activities through “Kungfu calligraphy” workshops. While living in Copenhagen, I have worked on my method for tailor-made corporate events as well as art events for general audience. I look forward to expanding my professional expertise and serve our community and business world that seek genuine connection through creativity! Tulip Pavilion is amazing, it gives people a window to glimpse into Contemporary Chinese culture and art in a fun, take-it-easy way. I am thrilled.
“Having lived between many worlds through my life, I have realized that difference is important, but dialogue is even more important. Our world needs dialogue urgently!”