Mami Kang’s Body Drift is Critic’s Choice!
9 July 2022
We’re delighted by the words Theaterkrant’s Lars Brinkman found to describe a performance that resists definition. Read the full review here!
Body Drift is Strange and Attractive Vacuum Between Dream and Nightmare
By Lars Brinkman
In the back of a dark room we see Mami Kang standing. A little light falls on her body. She makes minimal, fluid movements and slowly walks forward. Her movements become angular and jerky for a brief moment, and then calm and fluid for the next. She sits down, closes her eyes and seems to be reprogramming her brain: when she opens her eyes, her look has changed. She moves with the quality of a video game character to a branch she finds in the nearly empty space.
It makes for an alienating experience in which Kang presents her body as a fluid entity, not trapped in one way of being. She is constantly transforming, one moment she glides on the floor, the next she moves staccato like a toy dog, then crawling slowly, and yet another moving her arms soft and flowing. It is an interesting study of movement in which Kang provides the audience with little to hold on to and leaves a lot to the imagination.
Then an object descends from the sky, it appears to be an amalgamation of a dreamcatcher, a gong and a sacred relic. Kang appears behind it and for the first time there is a clear a sound coming from her mouth. Between scream and a song, she is like a siren that bewitches us, asking us for help, or singing to us. Her voice transforms the black space into an abandoned cave that carries her voice into infinity. It’s a fascinating scene, which both terrifies me and tempts me to keep looking and listening.
Kang seems to be playing more with this mechanism of repulsion and attraction. She creates images that could come from a nightmare or a dream. Images that initially bring out an uneasy feeling, but are nevertheless difficult to look away from, because they carry a surefire beauty. Gradually she lures the audience a little deeper into her dark world. The ominous sound design of Anni Nöps also contributes to the magnetic power of this universe. Booming, heavy tones, which here and there get something playful, create a feeling of threat and disorientation.
“It’s exciting how Kang creates a space where nothing is defined”
In the final scene, Kang moves toward something that resembles a latex or animal skin. She pulls it over herself like a blanket and suddenly we see her lying like a corpse in a morgue, her mouth wide open, her gaze frozen. It is again a chilling and exciting image. But she quickly breaks it too. She disappears under the latex sheet, until her hand and then her entire body is reborn from a cocoon like a caterpillar-like new creature. She ends up relaxing on the floor, with her back to us. Together we look into the dark space, until the darkness takes over.
It’s exciting how Kang creates a space where nothing is defined. There are no characters, no motives or consequences. Space also seems to be independent of linearity and causality: here the past meets the future, as they do in our dreams. Her universe reminds me of the part in our head that doesn’t deal with logic but associates it freely. That frightens and inspires us, goes off the rails, over which we have no control and is therefore so valuable and precious.
“It shows guts that Kang does not conform to traditional frameworks”
It is a relief to see the work of a young maker who makes an attempt to depict our human subconscious, going beyond the surface and attempting to illuminate the deeper and associative sides of the human being. It shows guts that Kang does not conform to traditional frameworks from which many performances in the Dutch performing arts field are made. Instead, she proposes a space without frames, giving the audience the task of fully associating and interpreting. In this way she creates a vacuum in which body and brain, man and technology, and dream and nightmare come together.
With Body Drift, Mami Kang creates an alienating and enticing universe, which you don’t want to say goodbye to when the light goes out.