In Lolling and 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 and 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.
In English & Korean, with English & Dutch subtitles
Duration: 45 minutes
Trigger warning: explicit content
The Hamartia Trilogy
Lolling and Rolling forms the first part of Jaha Koo's Hamartia Trilogy. Together with Cuckoo and The History of Korean Western Theatre, the trilogy consists of three intelligent documentary theatre performances, each telling a story about 'hamartia', Greek for 'tragic error'. The common thread here is the far-reaching imperialism of the past and present, and its sometimes unexpected personal impact. Each time, Jaha Koo interweaves his personal stories with historical, political and sociological facts. Often themes that involve a clash of Eastern and Western culture: from the clipping of tongues to make it in the West, to the heavy personal toll of Western interference in the macroeconomic sphere.