Zadie Xa: Behind the Mask
In Conversation with Ellie Wiseman
'Welcome', a woman's voice intones, encouraging audiences to make themselves comfortable. The recording of the voice continues in its soothing manner; visitors are invited to lean against a huge stuffed fabric Orca, encapsulated by dorsal fins and tail. The narrator recounts the tale of Grandmother Mago, a mystical giantess who brought the world into existence, displaying a masked figure on screen who selects stones from a beach, crawling into fissures in the rock, moving her limbs in a strange, unearthly way.
This is Child of Magohalmi and the Echoes of Creation (2019): artist Zadie Xa's playful re-imagining of an ancient Korean creation myth, explored through a multi-media installation, and with performances by dancers Iris Chan, Jia-Yu Corti, Mary Feliciano, and Yumino Seki, with accompaniment by percussionist Jihye Kim. The exhibition was developed by Xa in collaboration with artist Benito Mayor Vallejo, with whom Xa designed the costumes and masks that appeared in performances staged at Art Night London in July 2019, and as part of the 58th Venice Biennale (11 May–24 November 2019). Child of Magohalmi and the Echoes of Creation was co-commissioned by Art Night, London, and the three institutions where the project has been staged: YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku (12 July–29 September 2019); Tramway, Glasgow (26 October–16 December 2019); and the De La Warr Pavilion in the British seaside town of Bexhill, where it will be on view between 1 February and 22 November 2020.