• Echoes and Afterlives

Leister, Wiebke, 2016, Show, Exhibition or Event, Echoes and Afterlives

Abstract or Description:

'Echoes and Afterlives', 20 min live performance (documentation)
Wiebke Leister: photography, de-collaged publication projection
David Toop: sound improvisation, electro-acoustics, flutes
Emi Watanabe: flute, voice
Venue: Kings Place, London, Hall Two.
Date: Sat 14 May 2016, 3.30-5.30
Commissioned by Akiko Yanagisawa.

Festival: ‘Noh Reimaginged' (1), curated by Akiko Yanagisawa, mu:arts, 13-14 May 2016.
Event: ‘Masking and Enmasking: Noh Theatre as a Strategy in Contemporary Art and Performance’
This event consisted of 4 performances and a panel discussion:
Screening of Simon Starling’s film from his 'Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima)', which connects the making of contemporary Noh masks with Cold War politics, nuclear development and art.
Ignacio Jarquin presented the beginning of his 'Madam Butterfly Returns' (music: Michael Finnissy, libretto: Andrew G Marshall).
Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt and Palle Dahlstedt's piece 'Hero' looked at the role of hero and victim in Noh through movement and sound fragments.
David Toop, Emi Watanabe and Wiebke Leister explored the psychological and aesthetic significance of voice and face masking through the relationship of actor and mask.
Launch of Wiebke Leister's the artist publication 'Echoes and Afterlives'.

Description (for printed publication):
The project 'Echoes and Afterlives' looks at the boundaries between embalming and enmasking: being in a skin and under a skin, in and under a mask, looking at a mask and seeing through a mask as something that equally changes one’s gait and one’s voice while playing with sensations of displacement and transformation. It treats the human face less as a façade but as an object that – even though central to our understanding of what it means to be human – is only ever in the process of approximating a subject: being filled by a subject, worn on the face of a subject. Possibly inverting the relationship of who sees and what can be seen.

A valuable reference point for this project has been the teaching of Japanese Noh theatre, in which the mask works as an extension of the actor: nuanced like a face, while the face itself is displayed as an impassive mask. This is exemplified in the actor’s ritual of holding the mask to face him in an act of greeting, prior to shoeing the mask and stepping onto stage. This moment of face-to-face communication is said to allow the actor to become an other; a symbolic pact of mutual recognition and association. When the mask folds onto the face the actor becomes enmasked while the mask has become enfaced, establishing a liminal space between subject and object. The actor appears to be one with his mask, while the mask becomes animated – accentuated by the angle of the head and the play of light on its many surfaces, reflecting a flow of ever-changing expressions.

Not unlike photography, mask-play results in emotive light images. At the same time the liveness of masks is essentially pro-photographic. The work seeks to visually translate this sense of a living object into photographs. It meditates on the moment in space and time when a mask meets a face and how the relationship between object and actor is established across the gap between two surfaces. This process combines two artistic gestures: the performer’s gesture of donning the mask and the equally performative gesture of translating facial mask and masked face into the photographic plane. The whitened face here works as a non-representational space: an empty stage, a placeholder or insertion that alludes to imaginary characters, emphasizing the reality of an inner experience while evoking a sense of premonition and awareness.

ContributionNameRCA ID
MusicianToop, David0510031116934
MusicianWatanabe, Emi
Echoes and AfterlivesKings Place, London14 May 2016Other event
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
Creative Arts and Design > W300 Music
Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama
Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography
School or Centre: Research & Innovation
Uncontrolled Keywords: live performance; noh-theatre; mask; Japan; live collage; improvisation; performed publication; theatre of photography
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2023 11:02
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2023 11:02
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5395
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