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Costumes for Jahra Wasasala KALOUGATA: under the earth


October 2022

KALOUGATA: under the earth, by dancer and world-builder Jahra Wasasala, takes The Physics Room as a site for transformation. It includes new and existing collaborative works reimagined during Wasasala’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies Artist Residency: live embodiments and digital animation, clay sculptures, poetic text and soundscape.

A vast, projected animation wraps around the walls of the gallery, enveloping the viewer within a scorched, otherworldly terrain. Here a monstrous figure dances: this is Dra, the manifestation of our desires and compulsions to consume. Commissioned for Tempo Dance Festival and created in collaboration with digital performance artists Henry Lai-Pyne and Harrison Hall, KALOUGATA: Dra is activated using motion capture technology, blending the algorithms of Wasasala and creative partner Ooshcon’s dancing bodies to produce a hybrid entity. Images of Wasasala’s skin, scar tissue and tattoos have been incorporated into Dra to create an abject form embodying multiple stories and timelines, a being that is built from that which is discarded.

Central to the exhibition is a new dance work, KALOUGATA: under the earth. Developed during her three-month residency in Ōtautahi, this living embodiment will be activated by Wasasala throughout the exhibition. Infusing the physicality, character work and contortionist elements of street dance cultures FlexN and Krump, and drawing on influences from traditional Fijian Meke and Japanese Butoh, the work envisions the collision of histories, presents and futures, foregrounding these against the politics of protest. Wasasala works intuitively, dancing into a state of formlessness that is both a response to and break from the histories of these cultures. Wasasala’s embodiment also responds to the real and virtual bodies in the gallery space. For Wasasala, these are connected ancestrally through their making and kinship with the artist. KALOUGATA: under the earth also features adornments and garments made by Steven Park of 6x4 and a soundscape designed by Oliva Luki a.k.a. Spewer.

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