“Light” was a choreographed dance theater-based performance that was informed by and dedicated to the ancient death ritual practice in Korea. With “Light,” I aimed to create an emotional and embodied historical document, that explored the forgotten traditions of how Koreans used to bid farewell to the dead with reference to their mourning, burial, and shamanistic practice. “Light” was therefore also a dancerly document of the presence, which interrogated why and how today’s daily notions of life, death, and spirituality have changed through post-colonial climate, the Korean War, and the subsequent compressed modernization process.
During the performance, my body danced a ghost that represented a de-bordering figure moving through the four seasons and continuously changing, decaying and resurrecting. Contorted movements presented suffering and manipulated change; repetition and flowing movements showed the unceasing process of self-healing. Each of the four seasons commemorated and mourned the lost traditions by crossing and disturbing the borders of time, space and sanity. For me, the ghostly body is a medium that can move between the now and the past, the here and the other-world, the visible and the invisible, the rational and the irrational. It also is a metaphor for an absence or the feeling of being haunted by a shadowy memory chasing something that we have forgotten how to make visible. As the performance continued, my ghostly body renegotiated the borders we have drawn over time and the social injuries and disease we have caused to our souls and bodies. “Light” is asking: What became of our once vital relationship with the dead? And how can my dancing body shed light on a forgotten ritual of the past?