The Art of Time Travel: State Violence in South Korea and Korean Diasporic Aesthetics

September 30, 2021 - 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Elizabeth Son (Associate Professor, Department of Theatre; Director of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama Program, Northwestern University)
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In this talk, Dr. Elizabeth Son focuses on how Korean diasporic performance artist Dohee Lee contends with palimpsestic histories of militarized violence on Jeju Island in MAGO (2014). MAGO is a multimedia performance that integrates ritual movement, dance, music, film and motion graphics, site-specific installation, and Korean mythology with the tumultuous history of state-sanctioned violence on Jeju Island. In the talk she will discuss how the utilization and re-visioning of Korean mythology and performance practices allow Lee to "time travel," playing with different time scales, linear and cyclic, that interface with contrasting states of being.

The performance engenders representational time travel-the experience of multiple temporal arrangements in a performance space that kindles transtemporal connections with histories of social and political violence and ecological destruction and concomitant experiences of displacement, resilience, and community. In doing so, MAGO shows the cyclical nature of state-sanctioned violence in particular and the need for reconnection to mythic and indigenous knowledge. Lee puts forth an ethical critical praxis of reckoning with histories of violence wrought upon bodies and the earth.

Dr. Elizabeth Son is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre and Director of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama Program at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on the interplay between histories of gender-based violence and transnational Asian/Asian American performance-based art and activism. She is the author of the award-winning book Embodied Reckonings: "Comfort Women," Performance, and Transpacific Redress (2018). She is currently working on two book projects: one on the history of Asian American art and advocacy in support of survivors of gender-based violence and another on Korean diasporic women's experiences of social and political violence, place-making, and performance.

This event is co-sponsored by the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute and the Asian American & Diaspora Studies Program.

If you need a disability-related accommodation, please contact the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute ( by September 22, 2021.

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  • Asian/Pacific Studies Institute

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