Whitehot Magazine

March 2008, Universal Seoul New York Istanbul

 Performance View, Universal Seoul New York Istanbul, by the performance group Opera Dynamo West, photo credit
 Corinne Rose  

Universal Seoul New York Istanbul
Three cities, three DJ’s, three performers – one persona.
March 16th through 20th, 2008
8pm MotelOne Berlin Ku’Damm
Kantstraße 7-11a
For tickets contact: 030/39202140 or tickets@operdynamowest.org
12/ student 8 Euro

A long hallway, a door, no.666, a certain stink, the anonymity of a motel. It could be anywhere: Seoul, New York, Istanbul. I am in a MotelOne – Berlin. Music. A lean Korean woman is in a motel room. Has she been living here forever? She is performing a routine. Has she been doing this forever? One day out of her life, in a loop? It seems like she, long ago, morphed into a tiny little animal – half human, half machine. The atmosphere is Godard-esque. Is she the emotionless woman from Alphaville? I watch her absorbing, communicating, even morphing into her cell, her laptop, the TV. But then, a sudden change, like a crab she moves forward getting undressed and dressed, sniffing, fathoming, fumbling and groping her way into this weirdly real world of the motel room. Then again, she breaks into the daily routine of a woman going after her business clear and eager. With a twist of insanity, she makes me question the matter of time, zooming in and out on her excursion.

The dancer Kim Jung-sun sketches, with an adorable and humorous performance, a picture of loneliness – the borderline between being human and the spasm of someone being stuck in eternity.

Simultaneously, room 566, Ami, is doing the same routine. This time: neat, aseptic, meticulous. Like someone trying to mock boredom, solitude and anonymity by accelerating it, pushing, forcing oneself to the limit of self-alienation. Compared to Jung-sun's curious, warm and fascinating world, Ami seems harsh, impersonal, correct. But still it’s the same life, the same excursion, the same persona.

 Performance View, Universal Seoul New York Istanbul, by the performance group Opera Dynamo West, photo credit
 Corinne Rose

And repeat, room 466, Göksen, the same routine, again. This time a powerful force unravels, while she embodies all facets of female clichés. I am confronted with constantly mutating Lynch-like characters. This voluptuous lady scuttles fairylike, in a bright 90's leotard through the motel room mutating into a cleaning woman dancing ballet and metamorphosing into a female terrorist with a mission, then again she is a golden haired all-American prostitute – on the constant search for herself.

The creative team behind Universal Seoul New York Istanbul sends the audience on a trip through the seemingly deceptive anonymity of the motel to the end of the world. The director Janina Janke sensitively conducts the performers to go on a search for themselves and the documentary but mysterious daily routine of a young woman from Berlin, which creates the basis of the musical composition by the Korean conductor Kwon Byung-jun, and the Turkish and American Djanes Ipek and Kamala.

 Performance View, Universal Seoul New York Istanbul,
 by the performance group Opera Dynamo West, photo credit Corinne Rose

Janina Janke and Lee Soo-eun (stage- and design) create a platform to bring three different countries and cultures alive by dance, music and performance. Do not expect answers; it is a gathering of observations, questions, atmospheres and incidents.

With a striking and strong visuality the directing team forces the evening to the borderline of beautiful agony. On approximately 12 square meters I feel like a stalker being so close and still so far away from the inhabitants. Sometimes caused by the tender intimacy I feel dared to reach out and fondly touch the dancer. But then I am repelled and awkwardly moved by the split nakedness of one of them. I am thrown back at my own loneliness, my own pitiful world of workaholism and my own symbiosis with all sorts of machines making life easier but even more lonesome. I am thrown back to my own alienation, my own mutating, my own search and dire need to feel at home somewhere, someplace, sometime. I am thrown back at Berlin and all these other metropolises, where one can drown terribly. I am both perpetrator and victim at the same time.

Susanne Jakob

Susanne Jakob is a writer in Berlin.

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