Not A Real Drag Show

#travelling show #autobiographical

Annata is a drag show that houses the repressed alternative personalities of five female individuals from their adolescence. Drag, as played out in this project, is an unsparing effort to parody and ridicule gender, as well as to realize the suppressed other self.

Images from the 2019 performance in our own apartment

In April 2019, less than a year after the founding of _ao_ao_ing ensemble, through psychoanalytic methods, the five female artists of _ao_ao_ing searched for each other's subconscious nightmares from adolescence in the small apartment they cohabitated in. Among those are body shame born from pop culture, violence in relationships, deception in the family, ambitions that "should be held back" for women, and the dangerous territory in female relationships. These unspeakable, politically-troubled, forgotten, repressed, and at the same time incredibly raw secrets were exposed and confronted in their performances, through the exaggerated and flamboyant language of Drag Show.

Images from Annata @ Home, the 2019 performance in our own apartment

“Pompous, overly narcissistic, absurdist comic, full of dance moves with references to death and sexuality, and inexplicably melancholic” - these unique qualities of Drag Show echo viscerally with Annata's ritual of re-entering the dark waters of puberty and searching for a rebirth. With the most ostentatious gestures, they releases their deepest repressions and desires.

Images from Annata on the Road @ the beach (2021)

Every time Annata is performed, the show became part of a continuum. From their apartment in 2019, to a cabaret theater, to a cargo truck on the road, each site has become a part of these girls' story. Whenever Annata sets stage in a new place, the place transforms into a site of a dreamy distortion. After a performance, we will always invite the audience to join the act of Drag together, and one audience member will be invited to be the guest drag queen for our next day's show.

top - Annata’s booth at Big Balcony Art Fair
bottom - guest Drag Queen from audience members


“As an evolving art collective, they lived together in a rented apartment in Shanghai. The apartment is called the “_ao_ao_ing (fairies') cave” and art happens in the midst of life...”
- Shopping, partying, getting your bones straight, cross-dressing, and seeing exhibits in this vanishing seaside town ...... (Article by Dark Cloud Dresser 乌云装扮者)

“In addition to professional recognition, artists also need a more diverse and personalized stage, which is even more scarce.”
- Aranya Festival, Very Theatrical(Article by YiMagazine 第一财经, Written by Siyuan Ren)

top: moving the cargo truck into the beach
bottom: video taken by the truck driver Lao Li

CREDITS (for the 2021 performance)

Created collectively by _ao_ao_ing ensemble (Lin Cuixi, Selena Lu, Eva Lou, July Yang, Meiyue Xiao)

Lighting design by Qier Lou
Technical support by Danteng Fang
Party DJ - Li
Truck driver - Fangyuan Li
Documentary support - Meizi

Special thanks to Luo Yong, Leo, Sean, Sun Hao, Chen Keng.


November 21st 2018
@ Annata Vintage Store, Shanghai

May 30th - June 1st 2019
@ the private living room of our apartment, Shanghai

June 9th 2019
@ a cabaret theatre - The Pearl, Shanghai

June 10th - 20th 2021
@ a caravan transformed from a cargo truck on the beach of Qinhuangdao, Hebei

October 29th - 31st 2021
@ a tent on the grass at a outdoor vintage market, Hangzhou

November 6th 2021
@ a shopping mall after business hour, Hangzhou


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