Permanent Day (2022)

If light is a communicative principle, what is it saying into us? An examination of sunlight, human displacement, and loss, Orphan Day explores deeply durational daylight in the sub-arctic climate of Norway during the summer weeks up through the summer solstice. 

As a phenomenon, light moves with immense speed uni-directionally. This piece imagines this constant journey from origins as a mode of orphaning—of constantly leaving the mother body and never turning back. The daughter of immigrants who were orphaned by war, I often feel culturally orphaned as a Korean diasporic subject who grew up in the United States. By heading into remote, intensely isolated subarctic terrains and exposing my body to the limits of daylight, I sought to activate the sunlight’s orphan message in my flesh and discharge the orphan speech captured in me as a difficult inheritance. 

In an effort to accomplish this discharge, this videopoem features several poached aspects of the Korean traditional dance form salp’uri. (살풀이) which is an ancient ethnically Korean shamanic dance commonly recognized as a dance of exorcism. In it, a solo dancer moves meditatively with a long white sash, helping to release negative energies. In my re-imagination of this form, the sash is used as a conduit for transmission between the light and my body, communicating energies and desires in both directions. 

The hangul calligraphy on my gown features the poetic text composed by the very first person to dance the salp’uri form. Legend has it that one day, two suns appeared in the sky. It was a calamity. The king called a philosopher to him. After some thought, the philosopher penned this poem and danced a salp’uri. The extra sun came down, and the land was healed. 

I, too, seek to bring down the light and be healed. 

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