Lolling and Rolling
In Lolling & Rolling (2015), Jaha Koo immerses himself in the phenomenon of tongue-tie surgery, an operation performed in South Korea to pronounce the English tip of the tongue-r. The absurdity of an operation like this, shows the impact of linguistic imperialism in Koo’s native country. In 2021, the theatre maker, videographer and composer re-worked the documentary (that was originally conceived in 2015) into a live performance in which he now also explores the more extensive process that goes along with the surgery.
Lolling & Rolling dwells upon English being the capital language in political power, and what this means for the ‘inaudible voice’, that of the subaltern. Jaha Koo unveils a practice which tries to silence these minorities, taking their cultural agency. Because the denial or devaluation of a language also instigates the loss of an identity, of a minority, of a population group. In this way the subaltern are colonized not only linguistically, but also culturally.
Lolling & Rolling was the first performance in the Hamartia Trilogy of Jaha Koo. He will be presenting his completed trilogy for the first time in 2021. In Greek, hamartia means "tragic flaw or shortcoming", a concept that Koo has interwoven into completely different guises throughout his three performances Lolling and Rolling, Cuckoo and The History of Korean Western Theatre.
In the trilogy, the far-reaching imperialism of the past and present, and its sometimes unexpected personal impact, are the common thread. In his intelligent and haunting documentary theatre performances, Jaha Koo intertwines personal stories with historical, political and sociological facts. Often themes that entail a clash of Eastern and Western culture: from the cutting of tongue belts to make it in the West, to the heavy personal toll of Western interference in the macroeconomic field.