Hodoku / 解く/ The Ancient One


The modern human is wrapped tight, coiled up, compressed, bound, covered and distorted into a rigid and controlled form carefully crafted by gossamer layers of fear, expectations, hopes and aspirations.

Beneath it still beats an animal heart, a puzzle new to be solved by her alone.

Unable to move, we wait trapped for some unnamed catalyst to unravel it all. Beneath it still beats an animal heart, a puzzle new to be solved by her alone.

Hodoku: verb. Japanese. To uncoil, to unfasten, to solve

The action

On stage is a large red ball of ribbon and a smaller red ball of red yarn. Images of dense urban and insect lives project on the balls and the screen. Stagehand pulls one end of the ribbon from the large ball, uncoiling as the ball turns on a platform. The stagehand passes the ribbon to an audience member, which continues to uncoil, which spins the large ball. The ribbon is passed through the hands of Soon the ball becomes smaller, revealing a orb shaped red bud. It stops and opens like a flower. Scent of flowers fill the room.

A white clay covered figure is seated in the center, holding a large bundle of fragrant white flowers.  The end of the ribbon is pierced through the tongue of a seated figure. Her eyes are closed. The seated figure is entirely white clay painted but for her ears, painted black. She is naked except for fur and bones covering her here and there. She opens her mouth, revealing the source of the ribbon and crimson painted teeth.  She opens her eyes and they are blind milky white. She sits and gazes at the audience blankly. She rises, slowly emerges from the orb, and moves extremely slowly through the audience and exits out the back of the theater. The film plays to its frenetic conclusion.

Artist’s Notes on the Performance—Various Thoughts & Process

I created this piece for ASKEW: An Experimental Performance and Film Festival, February 2014, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts ( http://www.ybca.org ) in San Francisco.

The end of the ribbon is pierced through my tongue with a 6 inch long needle topped with a large pearl. As I don’t have a pierced tongue, this has to be done specifically for the performance. Paul King (http://www.coldsteelpiercing.com/#!paul-king/c4a9)

I am wearing milky white contacts that make me practically blind. In this state, as I was in the orb for an hour before the performance opened, I experienced profound emotional and cognitive states.

I’ve come to call the character The Ancient One. She is of the pre-historic and still present. She is a story keeper. In 2002, deep in the pain, numbness and helplessness of the 9/11 attacks, Michele Serchuk and I decided to collaborate on a photo shoot. I developed a character and an image. A white clad female sitting still and calm in the rubble. I wanted my make-up to be peeling and cracked, like the paint and the walls of old abandoned factory. The make-up artist we hired wasn’t able to quite get that look… I felt I looked too conventionally pretty. But still, the character was conceived.

Video & music playing in the background = by Midori. https://vimeo.com/86049375