Katia Engel

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from starting to cut the wood


dance performance, 65 minutes


Experiment? A hodge-podge of dance, audio, performance art, philosophical debate, word play, Art?

Maybe some or even all of these things. Yet, perhaps – most profoundly – a confrontation with the juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary human behaviors, actions, rhythms and the questions that emerge about us all as human beings within the twin contexts of where we have come from and where we are going.

An evening of silent conversation and ensuing hours of a great many ideas to reflect upon.

–  Margaret Agusta, Journalist and Writer, Jakarta Post




I visit the mask carver in his studio and observe him preparing the tools and his wood.

I decide to stay for a while.

From starting to cut the wood opens with mask carver Ki Pono Wiguno, stepping on stage with a piece of wood. While singing a Javanese song, he marks the space through a pathway based on a Javanese spatial concept. This spatial pattern of diagonal lines rotating from and to the center, establishes the choreographic framework of the dance piece.

The stage fades into darkness with a soundscape of an Indonesian village with chickens, birds, people’s activities and into the studio of the mask carver, who starts to carve a mask: from using the saw, ax, chisels, knife, sandpaper until a fine brush. The sounds are reflecting on his work pace, the very specific steps of his process of mask making and his relationship towards his work materials and tools. Each of these sounds have their own  pacing and pattern, which opens up  images, feelings, associations.

One performer is translating these sounds into movement. He moves with the sound, against the sound, along the sound. His explorations are wandering between interpretation and transformation. Between a dancer and his response to these sounds and someone, who is becoming the wood itself, which transforms into a mask – an object of spiritual content.

Combined with these interactions are projected text fragments, a collage of an observer’s thoughts while witnessing the mask carver making a mask:

I am thinking of the shift, this moment in history when machines started to replace body movements. When a new rhythm was created and human touch started to disappear. What is the rhythm of the digital world?

The observations shift into the philosophy of work, in which quotes of various philosophers are been recalled. The process of mask making is becoming a metaphor of the relationship of human mankind to work, the relationship of human mankind to its own existence.




Performer/Choreographer: Ari Ersandi

Mask Carver: Ki Pono Wiguno

Artistic Director, Text, Video, Production: Katia Engel

Concept: Katia Engel in collaboration with the artistic team

Film, Photography: Faozan Rizal

Lighting Design: Ignatius Sugiarto A. K. A. CLINK

Sound Design, Sound Composition: Yennu Ariendra

Composer (song): Laila Skovmand

Singers: Roy Hart Fermate Choir

Additional texts: quotes by Friedrich Engels, Claude Levi-Strauss, Hannah Arendt

Co-Producers: Komunitas Salihara, Goethe Institute

supported by Yogya Art Week, Dusun Jogja Village Inn