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t h e s u b t le b e i n g s

  • Articulate Project Space 497 Parramatta Road Leichhardt, NSW, 2040 Australia (map)

‘t h e s u b t l e b e i n g s’ by WeiZen Ho
Performance Dates: 
Thursday 22nd March, 6:30 - 8pm
Friday 23rd March, 6:30 - 8pm
Saturday 24th March, 2:00 - 3:30pm & 6:30 - 8pm followed by closing drinks.
Forum: Sunday 25th March, 2pm (panel members TBC)
Open Hours: 11am-5pm, Thursday to Sunday, 11 to 25 March 2018 (installation-in-progress open for viewing).
Please RSVP for installation-in-progress viewing to or call 0416 038 897.

‘t h e s u b t l e b e i n g s’ is a performance installation that is the result of my two years of travel in Asia to research and witness of rituals in Sabah (East Malaysia) and Hanoi (Vietnam), rituals that are connected to my own cultural heritage. 
The work uses hair, text, sound, text, sound circuitry, movement, vocals and video.
My collaborators are Katja Handt (costume designer), Iqbal Barkat (Associate Director - film, dramaturgy, installation), Vincent Tay (cinematographer), Binh Ta (cultural artist-guide in Hanoi), Damian Castaldi (sound circuitry, kinetic sound-to-body designer), Michael Touisuta (sound design collaborator + engineer). The installation team includes volunteers Sarah Keighery, William Seeto, Louise Morgan, Alexandra Mitchell and Naomi Ullmann.

The project was been made possible by Australia Council's Arts Project grant for WeiZen to study and develop ‘Performances, Interpreted & Reimagined of Asian Animistic & Shamanistic Rituals’_2016-2018.

“I am interested in the performance of ritual-like experiences of being possessed as a transformative experience for both the performer and onlooker. Then there is the notion of possession as the filling in of, and mediating of, many kinds of absences. It makes me wonder about the kinds of qualitative states that may make possession possible: mental vulnerability, uncertainty of social identity, lack of access to deeper communion or devotional spaces (and I don’t mean just religious institutional buildings), the thinning veil between life and death, the need for empowerment, unbelonging, dislocation, displacement and uprooting.
Coming from a lineage of Fujian people who migrated into Malaysia and Indonesia before the Cultural Revolution in China, the above-mentioned states are familiar. I suspect the migration process can exacerbate them, depending on the level of trauma and degree of choice involved. Migrants have to grapple with the cultural distance they have travelled from as well. I guess for some, a migrant’s world can be akin to a state of perpetual purgatory…
Possession can possibly be an instrument against despair and humiliation, where perhaps even a person dispossessed of country of origin, who is part of an invisible class in society or whose sense of identity is porous, can experience a sense of spiritual authority and communion, for example.
Part of my practice is the continual search for a performance structure that has integrity and yet is so minimal that it allows sixty to seventy percent space for improvisation and thereby hopefully, mediumship to occur. By mediumship I mean heightening my sensitivity to the guts of the performance, body imageries I am working on, and the presence of the space I am inhabiting..."
WeiZen Ho, “Potus Sedere: Part of the Stories from the Body Performance Series”; Rabbit 20 - Dance (A Journal for Non-fiction Poetry) published by RMIT in 2017

Background information:

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body


Earlier Event: March 21
Far Cry: The Music of Eric Dolphy
Later Event: March 22
Altered States Tapes Launch