Friday, August 24, 2012

Shamanism at the Asian

The extremely gifted Korean dancer-percussionist-singer Dohee Lee joined with a few friends for a shamanistic ritual at the Asian Art Museum on Thursday evening.

The scheduled piece, Mago, was performed in the second floor Samsung Hall at 8PM, but Lee started earlier in the evening in the North Lobby with a silent dance that complemented the black masking tape installation by Sun K. Kwak.

Later, at the other end of the lobby, she was joined by two musician friends, Adria Otte (center) and Suki O'Kane (right), and the trio played along with the mechanical ghost army created by Indonesian artist Jompot.

Also in the lobby was another friend of Lee's, the artist Sohyung Choi above, who was encouraging patrons to select postcard photos and to glue them on posterboard to create an instant mask for the evening's interactive ritual.

I was with a cranky partner who wanted to go home and watch the San Francisco Giants game, so we didn't stay for the main event in the Samsung room though I did make an amusing mask with Choi's assistance. It's probably for the best that we didn't stay since we probably would have invoked malevolent demons, but according to a friend's account, I missed an extraordinary performance. Her account is below.

"I'm not usually a fan of performance art because it always seems so self-aggrandizing, but last night I think I finally saw something absolutely brilliant. Dohee Lee invoked the traditional movements of Korean dance and drumming, infusing it with electronic music and western cymbals to create a full sensory experience that transported me and the audience into another dimension. Her dance movements channeled the power of Korean shamans, sometimes seeming otherworldly, and her voice was reminiscent of the Sufi singer Nusrat, one of the greatest vocalists of all time. (Photo above is by Pak Han and the photo below is by Jennifer Yin.)

Lee performed continuously for an hour, playing instruments, dancing, singing, and beckoning the audience to join her. The juxtaposition of thunderous drumming with quieter, spirited singing created a range of emotions so vast that it seemed I saw my entire life pass before my eyes. Maybe it was death. Maybe I did go to the other side for a moment."

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