Good work has been done to keep the conversation surrounding #MeToo and sexual assault going. Women’s organisation Aware is currently running the Aim For Zero campaign, while there are workshops being run to increase sexual assault care awareness. In their different capacities, these happenings are all raising awareness, educating and doing their part of make the world a safer place for everyone. Interdisciplinary dance performance Kotor by -wright Assembly, a newly formed art collective, is no exception to this equation.
The hour-long performance is an artistic response to Natalie Wang‘s debut poetry collection, The Woman Who Turned Into A Vending Machine. With Wang’s texts as a springboard, Kotor counters that physical and sexual violence are not just women’s issues. Through dance, multimedia and sound design, the show invites the audience to take on a new perspective on abuse and gender bias.
Fragmented and an intertwining of multiple narratives at once, nothing seemed to make sense cognitively – and that was what worked in the telling of this story, if I may call it that. Traumatic experiences are seldom coherent in recollection and some emotional responses are remembered better by the body/senses rather than the mind. Memories triggered by things as innocent as a scent or an accidental touch. The incident having touch points that carry your present self back to the past, and sometimes it feels like you never get out of this cycle.
You just keep going back again and again, hoping the response will end sooner than the last.
Choreographed and performed by Ismail Jemaah, alongside Sufri Juwahir and Kaykay Nizam, their movements were aggressive in one moment and soft the next. The cyclical and repetitive nature of their dance a visual representation of an emotional response survivors may have after a traumatic experience. From a wrestling ring with a charged atmosphere to lying on the ground trying to catch their breaths, the scenarios jump from one to another led by the sound design of Aqilah Misuary.
Though I hoped for the performance to get more erratic as it goes along instead of keeping to its even pace, I was drawn to the quality of movement by the performers. Ismail sensual, Kaykay grounded and Sufri’s grace in gestures. The rice ritually laid out at the beginning of the performance added another layer of sound and visual as well, when the movements caused it to scatter across the room. A chaos that the performers just have to deal with as the performance carried on.
The chaos and messiness a reminder of the issue at hand, perhaps?
Tackling such a complex issue for their debut performance, I applaud their vision and artistic experiment for Kotor and look forward to what else -wright Assembly will bring to the Singapore arts scene in the near future.
To find out more about -wright Assembly, click through to their Facebook profile here.
Photography credit: Tay Yi En