By the time you read this, Choy Ka Fai’s four performances of Postcolonial Spirits at Tanz im August will be over. But his very cool exhibition CosmicWander: Expedition, also a part of the festival, is running until August 22. A research film about the Javan folk dance/trance ritual Dolalak, which was the basis of his performance, is included, alongside material from four other regions. The star of the show is a performative 42-minute surround-sound and video installation. It aims to create an immersive space using digital technology in order to best replicate the shamanic trance state.
This is deep work for Berlin-based Choy Ka Fai who, for 10 years, has been researching the metaphysics of the human body via the shamanic dance rituals of Asia, in that time meeting more than 50 shamans and documenting their work. Here, sitting or reclining shoeless on a pink-carpeted circular platform, six large screens encircle you. Multiple angled shots of the landscapes and rituals create a greater sense of intimacy with lands and peoples.
Sound from all directions (as one woman described it, at “club volume”), vibrates your body, drawing you further into the five elements: a 3D dystopian game set on Formosa (Taiwan) in 2096 when people have forgotten how to communicate with the spirits, candle dancing and a lucky money shower in Vietnam, angry and tragic archaic Buryat spirits abandoned during socialism in Siberia, cheek-piercing Taoist-Hindu deity ecstasy in Singapore, and colonialist soldier cosplay in Java. The production values are top-notch, the layered experience quite splendid, and the only thing more you might wish is that you were actually there too. Simply expand your mind just a little further…
CosmicWander: Expedition, KINDL, Through August 22, Tickets available from www.tanzimaugust.de