Dancing Body

Dancing Body

Looking out over the ocean

where memories spiral around.

Turning time into suffocation

when fear arched up and drowned.

- Natalie Mik (from Dancing Body, 2018)

 Movements paired with words are forming an ongoing autobiographical series of stories about the dancing body. At this time, the dancing body struggles to negotiate and decolonize itself from cultural, political and gendered oppression. It seeks to break its choreographed past by accessing embodied memory. Knowledge of the past that can break the spiral of haunting memories. The spiral of the invisible.

Movements paired with words are forming an ongoing autobiographical series of stories about the dancing body. At this time, the dancing body struggles to negotiate and decolonize itself from cultural, political and gendered oppression. It seeks to break its choreographed past by accessing embodied memory. Knowledge of the past that can break the spiral of haunting memories. The spiral of the invisible.

  How much air is too little to break the mirror?    Which of us is really free of blame?    Who can throw the first stone?   - Luisa Valenzuela (from Other Weapons, 1985)

How much air is too little to break the mirror?

Which of us is really free of blame?

Who can throw the first stone?

- Luisa Valenzuela (from Other Weapons, 1985)

 The dancing body will eventually move freely. Reenact as a method of urgency. Injured and resistant. Resist the fear. Resist the blame. Affirm the potential of the body as an infinite living and dying archive for an embodied knowledge. Dance away from death and survive by rebirthing the present self.

The dancing body will eventually move freely. Reenact as a method of urgency. Injured and resistant. Resist the fear. Resist the blame. Affirm the potential of the body as an infinite living and dying archive for an embodied knowledge. Dance away from death and survive by rebirthing the present self.

  Dance is    time made visible    movement to energy    energy to power    power to change the now   -Natalie Mik (from Dancing Body, 2018)

Dance is

time made visible

movement to energy

energy to power

power to change the now

-Natalie Mik (from Dancing Body, 2018)

 The dancing body is ultimately spiritual. It can access sensory modes of awareness leading to a psychological journey and an emotional discovery of oneself.

The dancing body is ultimately spiritual. It can access sensory modes of awareness leading to a psychological journey and an emotional discovery of oneself.

  Dancing is never abstract.    It’s evocative because it’s being done by human beings.    If a dancer looks at something, that means something.    And if the dancer looks away, it means something else.   - Moris in Gottlieb, 2008

Dancing is never abstract.

It’s evocative because it’s being done by human beings.

If a dancer looks at something, that means something.

And if the dancer looks away, it means something else.

- Moris in Gottlieb, 2008

(in)visible

(in)visible

Text by Audrey Min

It is easy to speak of the meeting between East and West, when expressed through art forms, as a synthesis, or even a fusion. However, what happens when aesthetic encounters between cultures manifest with the urgency or the violence of personal experience? The performance (in)visible, which I was privileged to witness in spring of 2017, provides an answer to as well as an example of the problems posed by this question. (in)visible, created and actualized by artist Natalie Mik, positions the performer’s body as an index of social and cultural contingencies. The artist began by bowing on a mat and repeating phrases in Korean, English, and German. Interestingly, the mat was made out of postal shipping boxes. Ideas of border-crossing and bureaucracy were present in the performance from its start. As she bowed, Mik ate sesame seeds one-by-one from the floor. These gestures constituted the first part of the performance, which this essay will discuss. With (in)visible, Mik engaged in a narrative of imprisonment in the hyper-specificities of one’s identity, as manifested in the body; paradoxically however, she mobilized that same body to perform efforts at transcending this struggle. The performance reminded viewers of the inescapability, the literal corporeality, of one’s identity.

Watching (in)visible, I was reminded of a question that often plagues my personal and academic practice: Who are we, as diasporic individuals; or more accurately, as indices, as products, of diaspora? The answer, which I found obliquely through a foreign language during Mik’s performance, is as follows: “ich bin der Körper, der überquert.” “I am the body that crosses over.” The spoken-word aspects of the performance were said in English, Korean, and German, referencing Mik’s tripartite cultural background. It is a sad paradox that those who arise from the crossroads of cultures end up existing in their interstices. The modern porosity of cultural and national borders leaves behind a complex matrix of contexts and intersections for which it is apparent that traditional notions of identity and belonging are becoming increasingly inadequate and even meaningless.

By bowing repeatedly as a form of respect and self-discipline derived from traditional Korean Buddhist convention, a motion that became increasingly frenzied as the performance went on, the artist invoked notions of tradition and spirituality. As she bowed, Mik ate sesame seeds. Her act of eating sesame seeds from the mat on which she bowed was an act of asserting her connection to not only the earth but specifically to Koreanness, as sesame seeds are an important part of Korean culture and cuisine. She recited the phrase, “Ich esse die Erde und die Erde bekommt meinen Körper;” ”I eat the earth and the earth receives my body.” Here, “die Erde” (the earth) is conflated with Korea. The phrase functions as an inversion of the Western Christian Eucharist, and yet is also reminiscent of the expression “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”--Ultimately, what remains for all of us is the earth, whose physicality and conceptual solidarity grounds such agony over identity and cultural belonging in the ineffability of nature, its existence which undergirds all and to which human concepts such as identity and national borders lose their significance. 

 

Performance/Concept: Natalie Mik

Photo/Video Still: Teresa T. Pleman, Christian Alvarez

Text: Audrey Min

  It’s not the clock that keeps the time.    It’s the body that keeps the time.   -Spoken words during the (In)visible performance

It’s not the clock that keeps the time.

It’s the body that keeps the time.

-Spoken words during the (In)visible performance

  Ich esse die Erde    und die Erde bekommt meinen Körper.      (Translation: I eat the earth    and the earth receives my body.)     -Spoken words during the (In)visible performance

Ich esse die Erde

und die Erde bekommt meinen Körper.

(Translation: I eat the earth

and the earth receives my body.)

-Spoken words during the (In)visible performance

IMG_20170522_222504_747.jpg
20170522_214332.png
20170522_201326.png
20170522_201429.png
Light - Dances for the Forgotten and Restless Spirits

Light - Dances for the Forgotten and Restless Spirits

Natalie Mik, Light - Dances for the Forgotten and Restless Spirits, video still, ongoing performance series since 2017

Video by Christian Alvarez 

Light - Dances for the Forgotten and Restless Spirits

Light - Dances for the Forgotten and Restless Spirits

 

2018.04.03

-

April 3rd, 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of the Jeju massacre also known as Jeju Uprising. The South Korean government with the U.S. Army Military Government killed more than 10% of the island's population (around 30,000, among them many women and children) when the islanders protested the general election that was going divide the country in half. Up until recently this incident was censored and repressed by the South Korean government, not mentioned in history books, people could not even openly mourn the victims. 2006 the government officially apologized, no reparations were made until today. This incident shows how power is used to blindfold us to not see history for ourselves. When a prominent pop singer (Lee Hyori) was announced to recite Lee San Ha's poem at the official memorial ceremony this year, the public was divided and concerned that this would put her on the blacklist with other creatives who had previously expressed critique toward the government. Lee San Ha's poem titled 'Unhealing Life' (English translation by Natalie Mik) had been censored for many years, the poet tortured and put into jail. 
I am dreaming of the day when we all can express freely. Until then, it is our responsibility as artists to use our own weapons to resist, interrogate, correct, educate or remember.

As part of a series 'Light - Dances for the Forgotten and Restless Spirits', the Jeju massacre victims were commemorated through a dance and a translation of the Korean poem. The pictures are video stills from the performance series taken by Christian Alvarez.

 

Unhealing Life –Lee San Ha

 

A flower from the flatland

blossoms carefree

a flower from the hillside

pressing and desperate

ever blooms first

 

Regardless which life

mine is the first

who gets cut

 

And when the wound closes

I cut it open again.

 

생은 아물지 않는다 - 이산하

 

평지의 꽃

느긋하게 피고

벼랑의 꽃

쫓기듯

늘 먼저 핀다

 

어느 생이든

내 마음은

늘 먼저 베인다

 

베인 자리

아물면, 내가 다시 벤다.

 

 

 

Jeju Massacre3.png
Jeju Massacre4.png
Jeju Massacre1.png
Jeju Massacre2.png
Carving the Foundation, 2017

Carving the Foundation, 2017

Carving the Foundation was a collaborative live performance with New York-based artist Jean Rim. 

The performance took place at the Corner Art Space Gallery located on the first floor of a mega plastic surgery hospital in Gangnam, Seoul. 

 

 

yoniyacarving.png
yoniyacarving2.png
20170701_193404.jpg