PASTLIVES was the final presentation of the first chapter of the SasaHara Past Lives. The exhibition took place in ISO Amsterdam as a part of the program of UNSEEN Amsterdam 2022, between the 13/09/2022 and the 01/01/2022. It gathered the six stories that constitute the first book of the SasaHara Past Lives saga, and has been the physical place allowing these stories to merge together through an installation acting as a set for the PASTLIVES performance. The exhibition also hosted a party co-organized by SasaHara and the Berlin-based medieval fantasy rave organizer Mordorkore, exploring an interactive worldbuilding format where the public of the party inhabits the installation and brings it to life through their dance moves and fooling around.
“PASTLIVES is a long-term research project by SasaHara exploring mythologies and the politics agency in a white cis-male dominated world. In this multidisciplinary work they account for the space between queer voices and mythmaking – a force which can either solidify identities in their fantastical construction or marginalize them in the course of barring such ways of expression. Though queer identities have always existed they lack representation, as their stories have been kept quiet in the passage from oral to written storytelling. “What happens to the myths that haven’t been written down, and yet keep echoing?” SasaHara challenges this heteronormative caging by invoking forgotten oniric queer lives and channelling them into a place to exist for eternity, using their voice as the catalyst. They collaborate with a team of queer artists to give physicality to their mythological storytelling works and invite the audience into an alternative reality that is knitted through their own experience of queerness, indicating the radical necessity of storytelling at its core. The architecture of their mythology is formed through writing independent stories inspired by lived experiences and the unpacked emotions they generate. Their use of fantasy provides an extremely metaphorical style leaving organic space for the myth to create itself in its web of associations. In all, PASTLIVES is an effort that takes SasaHara’s drag-transformism practice into new heights by presenting an immersive multimedia theatre-work where drag, fantasy, text, performance, visual and audio work all converge in a cosmology of queerophantasmic stories.”
“PASTLIVES is a saga-performance presented within the cosmology of SasaHara’s mythology. In this new work, the artist explored how the independent stories collide when they are being assembled into a meta-narrative: the threshold between a collection of myths and a mythology. The performance takes place in-and-around a cosmic web designed by the shibari artist Ramzart, within which five of SasaHara’s stories are integrated, and presented in the format of comic-strips designed by Sondi (stories Down in the Abyss, Inferno, The Arena, Remuza&Romulusa, and PINK). The comics are composed of drag characters conceived by the artist (visuals by Luca Barbieri, 3D by Sondi), and fragments of their texts. A sixth story was created for this exhibition, SYLVANOMACHY, which exists in a video format showcasing SasaHara’s drag character as a narrator; set-design and costume by Rozy Sapelkine, video direction, filming and editing by jujulov3, and sound recording by Philip Ullman. SYLVANOMACHY is presented in a magical forest shrine built by Basse Stittgen, enhanced by the scenography of the video-work. PASTLIVES is a 45 minutes storytelling narration of the stories SYLVANOMACHY, Down in the Abyss, and PINK in an immersive multimedia theater-work. A part of the scenography consists of video-works designed by Guillaume Roux. PASTLIVES is presented during the opening night, after which an exhibition of its persisting scenography remains, recalling traces of the performance. Much like the forces of physics that pull stars into planetary structures, PASTLIVES is made up of many: an arrangement of disciplines, memories, and stories are the forces which mold these parts into a meta-mythology that speaks of identity, body politics and gender fluidity.”
Words by Elina Tapio.
Co-curated with Florence Parot
In collaboration with jujulov3, Ramzart, Guillaume Roux, Rozy Sapelkine, Patrick Schmatzer, Arthur Candio, Basse Stittgen, Sondi, Luca Barbieri and Momo Conzen.
Acknowledgements: Juan Bravo, Rowena Buur, Dajo Bodisco, Noah Cohen, Fabrizzia de Toni, Jiji Jitsu, Aurélien Lepetit, Gwion Lopez, Katja Novitskova, Elina Tapio, Lino Thijsen, Floor van Leeuwen.
With the support of Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst and ISO Amsterdam.