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Josephine Baker – Mirror and Shadow

Josephine Baker – Mirror And Shadow explores a symbolic connection between Josephine Baker (1906-1975) and Étoile Chaville (1982-). Both artists are of African descent, dancer-singers and have French citizenship. However, seventy-six years separate them and their lives have unfolded in very different socio-economic contexts.

What connects them? Which struggles had to be overcome in Josephine Baker’s time and are still relevant today for women who don’t fit neatly inside a box? Built as a dialogue between past and present, Josephine Baker – Mirror And Shadow questions stereotyped images around races, gender or sexuality and their influence on our vision of the world and the Other.

The work-in-progress showing will be followed by a conversation with Dr. Brenda Dixon Gottschild. Multi-award-winning author Brenda Dixon Gottschild is an antiracist cultural worker. Nationwide and abroad she curates post-performance reflective dialogues, writes critical performance essays, performs self-created solos and collaborates with her husband, choreographer/dancer Hellmut Gottschild in a genre they developed that is called “movement theater discourse”.

S.O.A.R. Study of a Rice Queen

THE LAB:  the very first public presentation of work-in-progress by Ming Poon, in collaboration with the Berliner Förderprogramm Künstlerische Forschung (2022-2023).

“This is part of my ongoing artistic research on developing performance strategies to decolonize my body and its representation as an Asian person within the European hegemony. In S.O.A.R. Queen, I turn my research focus on my queer Asian body. Western queer culture and theory are overwhelmingly used as the point of reference in mainstream discourse and understanding of queerness, whitewashing the queer expressions of other cultures. I see this as a form of cultural colonization. As an expansionist project, colonialism is as much about occupying foreign territories, as it is about appropriating culturally-othered bodies and erasing their cultural contexts, histories and knowledge.

In this research, my aim is to develop performance strategies to decolonize queerness through the use of drag as a tool to challenge and de-center the hegemonic west-centric notion of queerness, as well as, disrupt the heteropatriarchal norms in Chinese culture. The task is to construct conceptual prototypes for a decolonial and anti-patriarchal drag, which takes its central reference from the male-to-female impersonation in Chinese opera called Nan Dan (男旦).

S.O.A.R. Queen is supported by the Berliner Förderprogramm Künstlerische Forschung (2022-23). Over a period of 2 years, I work with the 3 archetypal female roles that are most celebrated in Chinese opera: 1) the warrior, 2) the lover and 3) the concubine. This first phase of the research is dedicated to the female warrior: Mulan (花木兰).”

– Ming Poon

Followed by a post-performance discussion