Thursday, February 22, 2018

Talk


Asian Centre UBC
... sitting in a room for ten hours listening to a series of lectures in a language i don't understand nor speak & unable to communicate with half of the participants is a powerful experience ... AeRan delievered a two day seminar at the Asian Centre @ UBC ...  an absoulutely beautiful setting ... i knew her material well being the topic of her Phd. thesis which has occupied the past six years & ... i have followed her many conference presentations ...  in fact, we were returning to the site of one of her first presentations ...

... it was a truly remarkable performance ... the electricity of her presence as she delievered was at times overwhelming ... the scope and range were both vast and distinctly detailed ... the conversation elicited was "wild" (the term she used) ... the eager attention whether youthful scholars in the midst of their training or those seasoned academics from visiting scholars to professors and experts from various disciplines was palpable ... her words washed over them - bouncing, absorbing, soaking and challenging ... i witnessed the ebb & flow of non-verbal discourse ...


... Professor Hur was a most distinguished host ... a skillful moderator he deftly organized all aspects of our stay from accomodation to dinners to transportation and comfort with an almost invisible hand ... we felt honoured and appreciated ... UBC seems to be a pillar for Korean Studies in Canada ... amazing to encounter a thriving department ...

... there was a moment i was filled with emotion ... here in the academic world was a study/reflection on the practices of a performance company ... their training, their rehearsals, the day to day “work” that leads to creation was being examined ... the practice of the artist was being studied and taken seriously ... this felt important ... the attention moved me ... we weren’t watching or listening to the artist’s work ... for a moment in time we were with the artist ...

... precisely the first moment of acknowledgement was while watching a video clip of Song Myong-Hwa  ... she was warming her voice by repeating scales with the piano ... a pedantic, almost monotonous exercise and yet when much later we saw another clip of her singing "Arirang" accapella the space was transformed ... her focus and concentration entered a territory which demanded silence ... a silence to give space ... all of us were in rapt awe ... i have throughout the years only begun to understand what this song means to Koreans and  in this seminar room at UBC she was inviting us deep into a space of communal imagination ...

Performing music, particularly in any sort of ensemble, large or small, exercises the muscles of empathy like no other. But even just listening to it should give empathy a boost, one would think. Name another art form that so regularly launches even its most historically, culturally, and ethnologically distant artifacts into newly immediate vitality, again and again. - Matthew Guerrieri

 ... another moment occurred with a gasp ... a gasp inhaled during the video clip viewing the dancers in their rehearsal studio doing the bundle of exercises established by Ch'oe Sung-hui  ... the athleticism of the dancers was breathtaking ... though much more was how a question floated in the air ... a wondering of what drives the artist to such physical limits & virtuosity ... we found ourselves and knew we were visibly and concretely responding and opening to those who had disciplined themselves to venture into the terrain of incarnating imagination ... at that moment, under the intense gaze of the scholars i had the impression that they were aware of the muscle of imagination ... imagination is a muscle ... the muscle had been activated ... together we were exercising those muscles and we gasped as our imaginations, as a people, were stirred ... writing now other memory moments of the lectures connect or fire or flow ... associations/impulses quiver unable to settle on a specific point ... i fly home to Saskatchewan ... if we hadn't dreamt of flight would I be flying now?

 ... oh the audacity of speaking on behalf of others ... chaos ... tell me why i shouldn't ... i write and the telling has been witnessed in the ceremony of the lecture ... i move towards some grey hope ... compass needle pointing to lessons on the path of those who choose to work/play, to see with their eye heart, sing their stories with their throat moving through the tissue of muscle, nerves & bones ... bring beauty to the tongue ... carry on ... to a foreign land ... no map to follow ... pulled by forbidden inspiration ... dipping, soaring ... to reclaim ... share what i don't know ... endless (re)search ... to wander, to wonder, to listen ... to hungrily learn ...


 ::Note::  ... it was a joy to visit the  Museum of Anthropology  on our last day ... the artifacts release a depth of story narrating beyond ... the visit undoubtly influenced the above  ... hope to visit again & again & again ...