The Space Between
A multi-media dance theatre piece
that asks questions about
borders, bodies, belonging /not belonging
Oct. 26 & 27, 2018 at NOH Space, SF.
Directed by Joy Cosculluela
With performers/ collaborators Tomoko Hiraoka, Diana Lara
and video artist Stacey Goodman
Lighting by Harry Rubeck
Wayfinding Performance Group: Diana Lara, Tomoko Hiraoka, Joy Cosculluela
The Space Between. Photo: Victoria Montero.
The Space Between. Video Art: Stacey Goodman
“Living on borders and in margins, keeping intact one’s shifting and multiple identity and integrity, is like trying to swim in a new element...[it is] never comfortable, not with society’s clamor to uphold the old, to rejoin the flock, to go with the herd. No, not comfortable but home.” Gloria Anzaldúa
In today's super-fragmented times, I find myself facing greater levels of uncertainty. I ask myself over again "Who am I? How do I want to live in this world? What can I do as a person of color, an immigrant, a woman?"
Current political structures in immigration, compounded by history of colonization have generated feelings of vulnerability, shame, powerlessness, and fear. Through our creative and collaborative process, we accessed uncomfortable memories and experiences as women of color navigating themes of belonging and not belonging. I remembered questions that many White-Anglo people asked of me; all three performers shared similar stories of race, perception, and identity .
Sparked and activated by these memories, I researched and compiled numerous specific questions, inspired by writer Bhanu Kapil, that became the engine of the piece. "Where do you come from?" "What did you leave behind?" "What are the consequences of silence?" and kickstarted a series of comments and questions that I encountered in real life, such as "You have such a cute accent. How come you speak good English?" Filipina- American writer Barbara Jane Reyes' work "Brown Girl Fields Many Question" became the inspiration for my text as I put myself squarely in the center of the space and asked the audience to answer the questions that positioned white privilege as the dominant narrative. "What would you say if a white person you just met 5 minutes ago asks you where are you from?" And many other questions ranging from physical, sexual, socio-economic. In short, this was a decolonizing performative act, grieving, resisting, and reshaping borders and our bodies. I wanted to feel the edges and stand in the gaps of: not belonging and belonging.
How to uncover what has been masked by many years of external and internal oppression? How do we work with, reframe, transform such challenges through our bodies, find our voice, reclaim our presence?
Photos: Victoria Montero
Photo: Lawrence Radecker
Photo: Victoria Montero
Un-Blinding my voice: Dislodging: to articulate what I'm making
a memory fragment: a broken foot
a distorted face
A tender line about ancestors from Mahtem Shifferaw's poem
An intense heat to fire up my shadow body
A wake-up call to un-deny our complex history and individuality
Confront dominant narratives.
This is not a new-age nostalgia trip.
Notice what your body does: Do you close your eyes? Do you look away? Do you lean forward?
Photos: Victoria Montero
Photos: Victoria Montero
Wayfinding Performance Group. All rights reserved.
Joy Cosculluela, Tomoko HIraoka
Urban x Indigenous IV Festival.
June 26, 2018. SomArts, SF.
Photos: Clique Dominique / Urban x Indigenous Festival
“Soil” is a performance ritual, a somatic-expressive response to the struggle of disembodiment making way for new embodiment.
Performers Joy Cosculluela and Tomoko Hiraoka respond to the installation art “An Aberrational Poetics: Inside Me an Island Shaped W/hole" by artists Lehua Taitano & Lisa Jarrett.
“Soil” is a collaboration by two immigrants; Joy is from the Philippines and Tomoko from Japan. As women of color, immigrants and performing artists, we are inspired by the installation “An Aberrational Poetics, how it resonates with our somatic-expressive experiences and how we constantly redefine our connection with home and its complexities in today’s modern context.
We are inspired by themes of “survivance,” a word created by Anishinaabe scholar Gerald Vizenor, which means more than survival — it is a way of life that nourishes indigenous ways of knowing. Mindful of the history that we share with millions of immigrants before us, we recognize the narratives of belonging, the stories that stem from blood, sweat and tears of people known and unknown who have dedicated their lives so that we can live more freely. How do we balance, navigate past and present, re-root?
Our performance piece re-imagines and cross-pollinates the materials in the installation: the islands making their mark against a white backdrop, the plant symbolizing nourishment and resilience, the love song and eating as acts of agency and healing. We embody survivance in contemporary times by listening and responding intently, unburdening the old, planting new roots, chewing new life, and taking pride in who we are.
Through our bodies and imaginations, we persist, resist, rebound, and create a new narrative of belonging. We embrace wholeness and look forward, making ourselves visible and contributing vibrantly to our community.