by Jai Arun Ravine
Wind, rock, women. These are the three abundances (samdado or “three many”) of Jeju Island, which lies off the coast of South Korea and is home to Korean American dance and performance artist Dohee Lee. Yet Jeju is also the site of a different kind of “three many”: massacre, militarism, US imperialism. MAGO begins in the mythic past of preverbal time, cuts through the thick silences of memory, and invites us to connect to our personal and collective histories and myths in order to protect and sustain our world.
MAGO / THREAD OF KARMA
The world premiere of MAGO was staged at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on November 14 and 15. From the plaza the audience enters the long and narrow space of the Grand Lobby. Lee crouches low on a small raised platform at the front end. Behind her, down the platform’s steps and along the floor, trails a long thin stream of white cloth. Sound designer Adria Otte mixes the soundscape from the gallery’s balcony above. Lee embodies the Korean creator goddess, Mago.
The energy is something very ancient, existing before spoken language yet carrying the memory of eons of struggle.
Something like bacteria escaping from eroding rock on the sea floor, flexing its cells toward sunlight, coming into sentience. When she speaks it is a stone’s language—one that is highly porous, contrary to its surface. She wears a garment that seems to be made of thinly pressed paper, and she sheds her papery skin with a series of guttural whistles, like threads of breath and sound, like air released through punctures in her body. Continue Reading