As we enter the space to take our seats, I can make out four bodies arranged among large sculptures,
A Body Gleaned creates a dreamscape in which a multisensory experience is possible, speaking into the languages of movement, song, word, film and sculpture, with the themes and messages of the performance installation embedded in every element before us. The multiple mediums of delivery offer various pathways and lenses to experience and connect with the piece, which explores the construction of identity, (mis)interpretations
A Body Gleaned unfolds to me as a series of offerings; as though we sit at the base of an altar, bearing witness to the collective – speaking with one another, their atua//gods and tipuna//ancestors. For each offering, only the artist who is sharing at that time is lit, leaving the rest of the performers in shadow, and allowing intimate exchanges between us, the witnessers and those who are performing. When in darkness I still feel the presence of the other performers, who hold space for one another. Often, when I look to them, it appears their eyes are closed; to me they seem to be dreaming. What lies behind the veil, what goes unseen, is just as intriguing to me;the lingering of ghosts, pasts and futures that hover in the periphery of our minds eye, translated into a literal space before us.
The voices of Lay the Mystic, Sioness, VeisiniaTonga
Lesieli Taufa and Iki San dire
This duality of welcome intimacy and the vast unknown sits with me throughout the entire work; the artists inviting us into a realm that is both familiar and unrecognisable. I think of the words spoken by Lay the Mystic, ‘Ancestors whisper themselves into my dreams in languages I don’t speak and if these are their lights that are meant to guide me home, why don’t I know their faces?’ and this dichotomy makes sense to me.
What is most evident and potent to me here, in the witnessing of A Body Gleaned, is that this stunning work was birthed and cultivated among family; a rare and specific beauty of collaboration – one that breathes life into my understanding of community, and that carries collective purpose at its core.Much like the making up of an identity among the offerings and exchanges shared with those we choose to surround ourselves by.
Nga mihi nui whānau, he tenei mahi ataahua.