The Death Of Vagina: Mythmaking Voices

© swan, KNCDC

Supposing that the myths of goddesses who were the bridge between humans and nature and the incantation of the body came to an end due to phallogocentrism, what should the next story be?

Mythical keywords like menstruation, bisexualism and death, which are built on bodily phenomena, are weaved into the story of performers while the future is overwritten on the past myths. It is an imagination of a regenerative space based on synaesthesia and intimacy stimulated by feelings of the inner body and co-storytelling.

The Death of Vagina: Myth-making Voices carries on The Death of Vagina, a premier production for the 2015 KNCDC Archive Platform. The piece starts by rereading the myths of goddesses that have changed or disappeared in history. It links the stories of “goddessness” that exerted mystical powers in a magical society to the experience of the body, the unconscious, dreams and different forms of sexuality of contemporary women. In this work, we see myths as communal stories, including questions about the lives of multiple layers of time and space, shifting away from the view that they are fixed heroic epics. Therefore, we attempt to imagine the future while overwriting the present on the past as an author of a myth which has continued to be written.

© swan, KNCDC

CHOREOGRAPHER’S TEXT

The 2022 production of The Death of  Vagina: Myth-making Voices not only carries on its premiere production in 2015, The Death of Vagina, but also has differences. In the previous one, contemporary female performers  told their stories about sexuality, unconsciousness and dream, bringing  back the texts containing traces of Mother Earth and the mother goddess  who had disappeared in a patriarchal  conquest-oriented society and borrowing the language of a magical  society that relieves the tension  between women and men such as  the “Phallic Mother” and the “Vagina  Father.” Since then, Korean society has experienced intense waves of the #MeToo movement, and queer-feminist discourses dealing with differences in gender identity have continued. 

Then in the 2022 version of The Death of Vagina, what can and should be discussed differently from its 2015  version? 

Mythologist Wendy Doniger criticized that the categorization of mythological themes by Joseph Campbell, who wrote primitive mythology (that was directly quoted in the 2015 production of The  Death of Vagina), was irrelevant. And she brought myths that had been veiled in all kinds of symbols and secrets along with heavenly gods and heroes to our earthly world and everyday lives. 

Doniger says that myths cannot be classified according to the gender of myth writers: men or women. Even though mythological stories were often told and written by elite men, they would have also listened to the stories from their mothers or grandmothers. In  addition, the questions that inspired the  myths come from what many of us may  have pondered over: “Why am I born  with a female or male body?”“Why are  menstruation and childbirth painful?” “What will death be like?” 

The mythological stories which came down to earth are interwoven with the performer’s bodily experiences  (unconsciousness, dream, reproduction and death), and the performers’ stories, that everyone has probably experienced once in their lives, connect to the stories of the audience. And the stories do not stop here. Did someone say that the climate crisis is a crisis of imagination? We would like to experiment to create myths and stories together and see if they can be continued. We have imagined a  map which is in the process of being produced: the map on which the destroyed body of Mother Earth (predicting its destructive eruption), beings between male, intersex, female, bisexual and asexual, as well as post-coital and post reproduction in an era of cyborg, cloning, companion species and climate crisis are being created. Keeping this invisible map in mind, we intuitively sense and spread the branches of words. Finally, we hope the words heard and the bodies seen in this performance will be caught in the net of your own imagination rather than being interpreted or captured as information, enabling the grains of your stories to sprout. 

© swan, KNCDC

CREDIT

Choreography : Suh Yeongran  

Co-creators and Performers : Kwak Youha, Yum Joungyun, Yoon Sangeun, Jeong Eonjin, Jung Leesu  

Sound Design : Kang Anna 

Sound Technician : Hong Chosun 

Costume : Kim Eunkyoung 

Text Animation : Kim Bora  

Movement Researcher  Yoon Sangeun 

Advisor : Kim Junghyun 

Voice Coaching : Anita Baek 

Script Translation : Lee Yun 

Text source quoted in caption *in quotation order :

Doniger. (1998). The implied spider: politics and theology in myth. Columbia University Press.

Pagels. (1980). The gnostic gospels. Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Robertson, &  Robinson, J. M. (1984). The Nag Hammadi Library in  English (2.ed. ed.). Brill. 

Campbell. (1991). The masks of God. Penguin

(All pictures © swan, KNCDC)