Creator/Artistic Director/Co-music Director
Co-music Director/Sound Design
Sound Design / Programming
SensorPlay a3D Wearable Media Control System
Production Designer / Lights Production Designer
Stage Design and Construction
I had a dream.
That was the beginning of my journey.
The MAGO Project is a multidisciplinary performance installation integrating music, dance, animation, ritual and Korean shamanism.
Mago is the creator goddess in ancient Korean mythology, central to the practice of mudang. The legend of Mago outlines this piece, which aims to express the interconnectedness of dreams and reality, past and present lives, karma and destiny, microcosm and macrocosm. Through an exploration of the myth of Mago and my own story, the piece unfolds in six chapters (see below), revealing this interconnectedness and its implications in one’s life. The work itself will be a cleansing/purging ritual, an intensely personal journey of birth, self-discovery, confrontation, action, and and rebirth, and like all of my work, will embrace spirituality, politics and healing.
The ocean and peaches are two symbols that are threaded throughout the piece. The ocean is the dwelling place of Mago, and is omnipresent in the lives of the residents ofJeju Island, my hometown. Jeju’s strong shamanic tradition is centered on rituals involving the ocean. The ocean is Mother, mystery and life. In Korean folklore, the peach is a symbol of the creation of humanity. Also, my given name Dohee means “bright peach.” Curiosity about the history and meaning of my name was one impetus for this project.
This performance is a story of myth. Why do we need myth? Myth connects us to our land and to each other. It connects us through time and space. From our homelands to new lands. From our ancestor’s time to the present, shining a light on how we may continue in the future.
Myths are not just tales from long ago, they are launching points for taking stories into you, transformed into new personal myth. I wanted to do this project because I believe we can be empowered in our lives like these mythical characters.
Everywhere, the connection of original peoples to their land has been fractured or lost and with that, myths and rituals disappear. Through this process of modernization we lose a body of wisdom accumulated over millennia that served as a blueprint of how to protect and sustain the world.
My journey took me back to my homeland, Jeju Island. They say Jeju has three abundances: wind, stone and women – Jeju samdado (“three many”). Women free divers fill the markets with fresh seafood. Their Yeodo (song) and their soombisori (the whistling noise that they release when they come up for air) sound against a backdrop of the harsh ocean waves. Memories of my grandmother feeding me fresh abalone and the thick silence felt in my grandparents’ traditional jogajip home – silent memories of past tragedies. Sasam, the Jeju massacre, April 3rd, 1948. Families, neighbors and villages divided. “Jeju is a RED ISLAND.” “Let them kill each other.” Visiting these massacre sites, including Halla Mountain, I constantly found myself in the company of a murder of crows. It seemed to me that they were witnesses and protectors of the land and lost souls. Watching me, piercing me with their gaze and asking, “What did you see?” “What did you hear?” My eyes traveled back to the ocean, where new military development is once again destroying the land and people. Drills cut into ancient volcanic stone and families, neighbors and villages divided again. Sixty years. It still continues.
We urgently need myths and rituals to regain what we have lost in this destruction. How can we remember the songs of our ancestors, the words that they spoke, their care of the land, people and spirits? I believe that art has the power to creatively confront our struggles – to regain our strength and to take action. That is why my creative journey is centered in ritual. I dedicate my performance as a ritual to not only discover my own history and myth, but also invite others to discover their own.
Funded by Creative Capital, The MAP Fund, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Eastbay Community Foundation, Zellerbach Family foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Dancers’ group and individual donors
Additional support by the Eastside Cultural Center, Paul Dresher Residency, 23 Arts Studio, Djerassi residency program, Montalvo Arts Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, Temescal Theater, Tamalpa Institute and Anna Halprin
All Images Copyright © Dohee Lee, All Rights Reserved