News & Stories

Project Premiere: Dohee Lee's "MAGO" at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco

November 7, 2014



This Friday and Saturday, Dohee Lee (2013 Performing Arts) premieres her Creative Capital-supported project, MAGO, at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Tickets are available online.

MAGO is a performance installation of dance, music, animation and ritual that blends traditional Korean arts and shamanism in a modern context. Centering on the legend of Mago, the creator goddess in ancient Korean mythology, the performance also references past and current political and environmental crises in Lee's hometown of Jeju Island in South Korea. Ocean symbolism is threaded throughout the piece, as the ocean is the dwelling place of Mago and is omnipresent in life on Jeju Island. MAGO pays homage to the local tradition of female ocean divers (Haenyo or "sea women") who free-dive to depths of twenty meters to harvest seafood and provide sustenance for their families. Lee's grandmother was a haenyo, and the tradition lives on today, but is threatened by the construction of a U.S. naval base on sacred land. In this highly personal performance journey, Lee uses this conflict and her own family history in Jeju as symbols for the trans-generational trauma that underlies our collective history.

MAGO is the result of a year-long development process in which Lee created seasonal performances that encouraged audiences to participate in her adaptations of Korean rituals. You can read an Artist-to-Artist interview between Dohee Lee and Byron Au Yong (2009 Performing Arts) about Lee's journey of self-discovery in creating this project on Creative Capital's blog, The Lab

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