Choy Ka Fai

UnBearable Darkness

Engineering the ghost of Butoh at the intersection of technology and spirituality

Employing a multidisciplinary practice that encompasses media art, theater, and performance, Choy Ka Fai demonstrated with his previous two appearances at Kyoto Experiment his unique approaches as well as painstaking research about and deep respect for dance. Notion: Dance Fiction deliberately “misused” technology in order to revive the choreography of legendary figures from dance history. Soft Machine, on the other hand, researched contemporary dancers based in Asia in order to build up a large inventory and archive.

In his practice, Choy Ka Fai has long shuttled back across the vertical time axis of the history left behind by individual dancers as well as over the horizontal axis that is the resolutely varied expanse of Asia. Now for UnBearable Darkness, he has asked none other than the founder of Butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata (1928–1986), to perform.

He has adopted several means for talking to Hijikata. He went to an itako, or blind medium, on Mt. Osore in northern Japan, and invoked the spirit of the late artist. Choy Ka Fai also generated an avatar of Hijikata from the materials he left behind.

Can we who are alive now dance together with the formless spirits of the dead using the media of past and present?

North Hall, ROHM Theatre Kyoto
Performed in Japanese with English (and Japanese) surtitles

Choy Ka Fai

Choy Ka Fai (b. 1979) is a Berlin-based Singaporean artist. His multidisciplinary art practice situates itself at the intersection of dance, media art and performance. At the heart of his research is a continuous exploration of the metaphysics of the human body. Through research expeditions, pseudo-scientific experiments and documentary performances, Ka Fai appropriates technologies and narratives to imagine new futures of the human body. Ka Fai’s projects have been presented in major institutions and festivals worldwide, including Sadler’s Wells (London, UK), ImPulsTanz Festival (Vienna, Austria) and Tanz Im August (Berlin, Germany). He was the resident artist at tanzhaus nrw in Düsseldorf (2017-2019) and Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin (2014-15). In 2010, he was awarded the Young Artist Award by the National Arts Council, Singapore. Ka Fai graduated with a M.A. in Design Interaction from the Royal College of Art, London.

Concept, Documentary and DirectionChoy Ka Fai
Choreographic Presence and Paranormal PerformanceTatsumi Hijikata
DramaturgyTang Fu Kuen
Dance Engineering, Motion Capture and PerformanceNeji Pijin
Shaman Understudy, Performance and Costume DesignRie Usui
Research, Vocal and TranslationTomoko Inoue
Visual Design and TechnologyBrandon Tay
MusicRaffael Seyfried
Lighting DesignRay Tseng
Production and Technical ManagementARTFACTORY (Andy Lim, Steve Kwek and Yap Seok Hui)
Company ManagerMara Nedelcu
In co-operation withTPAM – Performing Arts Meeting in Yokohama 2018
In research co-operation withThe Saison Foundation, The Japan Foundation Asia Center and Hijikata Tatsumi Archive at Keio University Art Center
Co-produced bytanzhaus nrw and Kyoto Experiment
Supported byKunststiftung NRW Germany, the NATIONALES PERFORMANCE NETZ Coproduction
Fund for Dance(funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media)
The presentation at Kyoto Experiment is supported byThe Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan through the Japan Arts Council and National Arts Council, Singapore
Presented byKyoto Experiment