13th Gwangju Biennale — Minds Rising Spirits Tuning

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Kira Nova

No figure embodies ostracism like the idiot. As an epithet connoting belonging and limited expectations, “idiot” describes anyone on the wrong side of society, and for most, is a slur implying a threat to order with no belonging of any sort. For Kira Nova, however, the idiot is a liberated figure. Her latest series of video-based narrative episodes and movement practices guides viewers through small daily steps to awaken their becoming an idiot, a person that treats social reality with the attitude of a trickster, a player, a clown, or a shaman. The series encourages us to access our wild extraordinary potential, whether through butoh techniques, cellular memories of animal, plant, or insect pasts, or other improvisations that embrace our limbs’ intelligence.

Published on the Biennale’s digital and social media channels, the videos offer, in the words of the artist, “an ontological deep tissue massage to history of certain social and cultural norms while plucking out the roots of domestication” through two significant facets of life: spontaneous collective dancing and sex culture. How does it feel to dance alone, a very primal, very basic, very uncivilized remnant of ritual movement? Is sex for one the first building block of a healthy and balanced society? What can the two freedoms of sexuality and humor learn from each other? To what extent can we push beyond the deeply-rooted Freudian idea of sublimation and expand human consciousness in pursuit of an ultimate inner freedom?

The artist often collages bullets of playful academic text with cinematic images, action scenes, and comedic elements to deepen her interest in debunking myths and stagnant belief systems. Having worked as a circus clown in her youth, Nova learned how to combine physical theater, dance, stand-up, and butoh to pervert academic language and sculptural work and to insist on the possibilities of dusting ourselves off and removing the layers that desensitize us to our environment, that muffle and mute our intuition, and that shame and suppress our bodily instincts to set us “right.”

Defne Ayas