The idea for the Flowering Bagdress came to me during my residency at the Opera Music Theatre Lab in 2008 that was founded by Susan Benn, and to which I had applied to develop my ideas about an opera on the Sumerian myth of Inanna. As it happened, I was there as a writer, and costumes and sets were not needed. I therefore developed the dress afterwards, having been given a large amount of coloured plastic bags for a project that did not materialise. I decided to tie these into a net to create a wearable sculpture that would evoke the natural world.
The first performance given wearing the Flowering Bagdress, was by Yong Min Cho during Frieze week 2018 in my North London studio. I called the event Spiralling, referencing the spiral springs that I had made as arm and hand ornaments for Yong Min.
The idea for the performance was for Yong Min to move in relation to the display of my works in the studio. For the kinetic word pieces, D=4=Open=Apollinaire(1968) and Way Out Is Way In (2009), we performed a dialogue, calling out the words or numbers on the works as Yong Min moved around them. For the sequence with the Flowering Bagdress, I asked Yong to perform on one of my large tables to lift him above the crowded standing audience. For his performance, we hid his face and hands in black coverings, to allow the Bagdress to become the performer. It was an act of metamorphosis, the colourful petals of the dress coming alive and transmuting into plant, animal, and insect as he moved subtly on his stage.
For the Ragged School Festival, in April 2021, after nearly two years of isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Yong Min and I performed once again. On the first day, we attempted a zoom dialogue. Using word cards from my Power Game edition, I displayed one word at a time at random on my screen, seeing which, Yong Min moved accordingly. The next day, I decided to attend the Festival, although it was my first such outing. I hadn’t realised that I would be asked to repeat our performance of the day before and had not brought cards. I sat on one side of the large space and spontaneously intoned words and numbers that I quickly calculated were related to these words. I did this to enact D=4=Open=Apollinaire, although the Poemkon was not present. Sounds then came to me, words or even simple sounds and Yong Min echoed them both with his voice and his whole body, wrapping the space with his fine motion.
Liliane Lijn 7/21