Laura Dudu 嘟嘟


女拳手打糍粑 The Ciba Punch
Steamed sticky rice, boxing gloves, folding tables, brown sugar, honey, crane sugar

2022.09   with CAO Collective
Sara D. Rosevelt Park, Manhattan Chinatown, NYC, NY

2022.04   with University of Pennsylvania Chinese Queer and Feminists Alliance
Meyerson Hall, Philadelphia, PA

2022.03   with Jingyi Li
Morgan Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Rooted in a feminist ethics of care, the Ciba Punch subverts the Chinese traditional ciba-making (food-making) process and reveals the often-hidden domestic labor performed by womxn. By punching, chanting, making together, this collective performance of 20 Chinese feminists reclaims our own definitions of (em)power(ment) from patriarchal definitions of force and gendering. Together, we reimagine a powerful yet non-punitive way of community building and healing.

Our 22 performers collectively wrote the words for chanting with the Exquisite Corpse method. Their prompt is an imagined conversation between the writer and a womxn figure whom they want to speak with. Some people wrote towards their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, or towards themselves, whereas others engaged with goddesses in mythologies or recently arrested/disappeared feminist activists in China. In the process of this collective dialogue and food-making, at the intersection with diaspora experiences, our vulnerable stories, feelings, and struggles of transnational feminism emerge.

We have a set of tables at the center of the setup, meant as the boxing ring and the kitchen. They are covered with clothes written with red food coloring. The central word of our project, 女拳手 (Nyu Quan Shou), literally translated as female boxers, is a wordplay of the words 女权 (Nyu Quan) feminist and 拳手 (Quan Shou) boxer. It is a derogatory term often used to shame and stigmatize Chinese feminists, a word that we are now reclaiming as our own. Its multiple layers of meaning come together inside the boxing ring/kitchen, where we punch with cooking tools or our bare hands on the rice dough. We read our poems, speak our words, while inviting other Nyu Quan Shou and the audience to chant with us. Another group of performers, Spiritual Figures, who wear red and white costumes, are a channel for the spirits of feminists and repressed, erased female voices from the past and the future. They engage with Nyu Quan Shou and each other through the exchange of utterances, sounds, breaths, and music.

In the boxing ring/kitchen placed in the middle of the park in New York City, Chinese feminists come together to mingle while doing the domestic labor and taking turns to rest, just like what our mothers, aunts, grand-aunts, and grandmothers do. The sound of their hands pounding the rice dough, giggles from gossip that they share, chanting of the poems speak to one another to form a contrapunto. The work captures an encounter in time and space of all the emotions, lived experiences, and the humanity of the Nyu Quan Shou. It also brings to the forefront the often invisible labor and mastery of those disregarded by patriarchy for an re-encounter.

Photo Credit: ShihChieh Wei