EVER heard of the term ‘kapangan’? It’s a fairly uncommon word — Google Search estimates around 568,000 entries on the internet for the term, while its synonym ‘gerhana’ racks up over 7.59 million results. Both words, which mean ‘eclipse’, are part of the Malay language vocabulary and you can even look up ‘kapangan’ in Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) and the Indonesian dictionary.
Artists Grace Ng and Api Husien felt a strong connection to the term while conceiving a performance art piece for Johor arts and culture fest ISKARNIVAL this year. Presenting Kapangan as part of The Daily Seni‘s series of showcases, KITARAN, both artists will premiere their devised, interactive ritual this weekend at Mall of Medini.
Building upon their combined knowledge in performance art, both Grace and Api will be drawing from various disciplines and influences to put together the show. Grace and Api are also collaborating for the first time.
Kapangan began as a proposal by producer Deric Ect for a collaboration between Grace, a voice and stage actor, Api, a writer and performing artist, which tied in with a light installation from Minut Init. Both performers were to devise a mechanism that completed the larger event.
After four weeks of meetings, Kapangan was born. Grace and Api previewed a site-specific movement piece to The Daily Seni at Uppercase, Bangsar last Tuesday.
“Kapangan involves elements of movement, clowning and ritual. I had been thinking a lot of late about the concept of death and rebirth, and am also fascinated with the aesthetics behind Japanese butoh dance. I was excited to be working with Api Husien as I feel that he is someone who has been accustomed to walking along the depths of the ocean floor,” Grace added.
“With Kapangan, we’re hoping to take the audience to a level they could dive into the idea of death and rebirth within performance.”
According to Api, the pair was was also inspired by the concept of yin and yang as it is visible within the image of an eclipse. Yin is the sun and yang is the moon, and when the time comes, both will be united into an eclipse.
“The duality has played various factors in the formation of character, personality and storyline,” spoke Api. “In terms of visuals, the audience is certainly going to be served with an interesting ‘installation’. The black and white costumes for example are very helpful in terms of body movement.”
“When Grace and I met for the first time to generate ideas together, we got along instantly and we developed the piece around the cycle of life. I hope audiences can relate to Kapangan.”
How does it feel to watch Kapangan?
We sent two of our new guys to a rehearsal at Uppercase to participate in a rough version of Kapangan. Being given a crash course in performing art doesn’t get better than this, but we also wanted to estimate how members of the public will respond to the piece. Having seen theatre for the first time just weeks ago, both were perfect candidates. This is their honest report and we’re going to take their word for it.
Personally for us, Kapangan is an interesting art performance as it involves full-body movement. When we participated in the rehearsal, we were really confused initially as we had no information on what it was about. Grace and Api gave us instructions and led us. There is a box from God, and we were to perform a ritual for that box. The ritual combines many movements which we do in our daily lives.
There will be interaction between both performers and the public. The more we were in rehearsals, generating ideas and giving suggestions on how to perform the ritual, we finally get the hang of it and ended up enjoying ourselves.
It was eye-opening for us and we really enjoyed moving together. In a nutshell, Kapangan is a pleasure to be part of as this is not something we would expect at a theatre or outdoors. It was also free.
— Yolanda Amelia & Bukhori Tajuddin, 6 September 2016
Kapangan premieres as part of KITARAN at ISKARNIVAL KREATIF, which takes place at Mall of Medini, Nusajaya from 17-18 September 2016. Check out the KITARAN program and the rest of ISKARNIVAL KREATIF if you haven’t, there’s a huge lot going on!