Life is motion. Without motion, there’s only death. The art of movement, therefore, is the art of dealing with life and death. These opposite forces push and pull on our body, yet the flesh is also the only site where they can co-exist in harmony. This coherence and contradiction drives us to the brink of madness, and what’s left of ourselves is then forced to make sense of its own futility. As a choreographer, I’m interested in finding vocabulary to portray and embrace this existential ambiguity, calling into question what we consider important or how to live a meaningful life. We move our bodies, but our movements carry us too. In the sacred temple that we call theatre, where the corporeal flesh is pushed to its physical limits, where it is being confronted by the gaze of hundreds and thousands, our masks will eventually shatter and our truth will inevitably prevail. It’s a war where we fight ourselves. Our skin, our muscles, our bones, and our organs are the comrades we need who will see to truth our own desire.
If we only look within ourselves through moving and feeling in order to understand our relationship with life and death, then we are doomed in the abyss of self-indulgence. We need to look outward to see because to see is to take in, to empathize, to relate, and to acknowledge those being seen. To see is to be able to locate oneself inside a community, because our question regarding life and death cannot be answered without a communal anchor. However, in the toxic culture of social media and spectacle where things are being multiplied and projected into grandiose images and messages, seeing becomes redundant, insignificant. It becomes a tool for the ruling class to keep us in chain, for seeing and consuming spectacle facilitate false desires, deviating us from ourselves and our needs. We have to be able to see in details, with scrutiny, with emphasis, with significance, and with urgency. Photography for me does exactly that. It allows me to treasure that swift moment that once gone, there’s nothing left but memory. It challenges me to connect with/to whom I photograph. It requires me to stay present, vulnerable, and focused, because how else would I be able to relate and understand another person!? For me, the photograph is not necessarily a keeper of memory, but a tool for empathy.
Film is perhaps the most outward representational art form that I practice, for the reception of the work is inherently distant from the performance in front of the camera. The immediacy of the theatre and the urgency of photography is no longer there. In fact, the art requires thorough contemplating and meticulous planning, neither of which reflects our essence of being. Nevertheless, it compensates this flaw by offering us one of the most powerful tools when it comes to meaning making: juxtaposition. If choreography is where I try to cultivate meaning through abstract movement, and photography is where meaning is found in connection with others, then film completes the picture - meaning is now constructed by myself for myself by editing and collaging different ideas together. Even though making film can feel dictatorial, it never cease to be exhilarating. It is in its nuance that making and seeing is united, internal experience and external perception meets, inward feeling and outward empathy exchanges. In a culture where the inward and outward are often disjointed, film comes in to ease this discrepancy. Due to its contemplating nature, film is eventually the art of reflecting and a way to converse with death. While our expectations and desires are moving us forward and away, reflection move us back to our origin and ourselves.