Written by : Chiara Anindya

Imagine yourself waking up in the morning. What would you do afterwards? Say a prayer? Check your phone and access several social media sites? Or perhaps, go straight to the bathroom for a morning bath? Subconsciously, everything we do daily forms a certain ritual. We have followed these rites for so long that we become accustomed to them. Undoubtedly, the presence of daily rituals is vital in our lives, although we don’t always realize it.

The idea of rediscovering the power of rhythm inspired Katia Engel’s recital concept for her entry to Jogja Artweeks (JAW) 2015. Her concept, falling under the performance and visual art category, combines dance and sounds to create a stunning dance piece. In order to execute her concept, Katia chose to amplify the process of creating a wooden mask. The performance titled “From Starting to Cut the Wood,” was created through Katia’s cooperation with Ari Ersandi, a dancer from ISI Yogyakarta and Ki Pono Wiguno, a mask carver from Sewon, Bantul.

Unlike the other categories, performance art can be a little tricky, especially since it involves the usage of space, specific lighting and sound arrangements. In order to maximize her idea, Katia acts only as the performance director, entrusting the sole dancer of this performance to Ari. The dancer in this performance, thus, embodies the mask itself. The embodiment is demonstrated through the process of carving, plastering and polishing the mask shown by the dancer’s movements.

“There’s actually a lot of stuff in the concept. In one side, the recital shows the lack of communication which is caused by technology. Humans forget the nature of rhythm; a high appreciation towards the process of creating something rather than the final outcome,” Katia said during an interview session at Dusun Jogja Village In on Wednesday (13/05). Alongside her argument, Ki Pono Wiguno, otherwise known as Pono, argues his perspective on the recital, saying that, “People are too busy in ‘carving’ others, that sometimes they forget that they too are being ‘carved.’”

Unlike the other dance pieces, Katia has decided not to use any music in her performance. Beforehand, she had requested Pono to carve a mask and recorded the sounds of him working. The sounds created in the process of mask carving are used as the substitute of the background music. However, due to the subtleness of the sounds, Katia is unable to display her recital at the main venue of JAW 2015 artwork showcase, which will be held on 9 – 27 June at Pusat Kebudayaan Koesnadi Hardjasoemantri (PKKH) UGM. Instead, her recital will take place at Auditorium IFI Yogyakarta, Sagan.

The process of embodying the mask is not an easy thing to do. For Katia, dancing is not just moving the body, but rather a process of telling a story. Her recital requires more than just a skilled dancer. “I chose Ari because I understood his background. When he first started to learn dancing, he had a lot of emotions involved. Furthermore, Ari has a strong character,” she continued. She hopes that through the unique dance background Ari possesses, he would be able to draw out a reflective attitude in the audience.

“To me, dancing is a process of contemplation,” Ari exclaimed during a short interview after his rehearsal. Being fully aware that he embodies the mask — he is the one being carved, Ari recalls his old self when he first started dancing. To Ari, a mask symbolizes untruthfulness — something that is purposively hidden. Through his body, he wants to tell a story. Having experienced of 9 years in ethnomusicology, all the moves he displays in this dance piece are the moves of a passionate, young dancer rather than a lifeless but experienced one.

“Overall, this performance evokes the reflective side of a human. I wanted this recital to be less showy and more reflective. Many artists are too busy impressing the audience that they forget to challenge them,” Katia added. For Katia, there is no bigger joy as an artist than to make an audience move, either by having conflicted emotions or convey certain thoughts and interpretations.

Come and see Katia’s recital at Auditorum IFI Yogyakarta, Jalan Sagan 3 on June 11. There will be two shows on 16.30 and 20.30. The admission fee is Rp 15.000 and can be ordered through Rahayu (085601913378). Come and see how far Katia will take you in to self contemplation and reflection.