UMMA-YA (Korean: MAMA-YA) tells the story of a young boy who learns she will be a mother. A solo interdisciplinary work for violin, viola, voice, and body, UMMA-YA draws from the dense, spiritual matter of Korean folk & shamanic performance traditions, and the extemporaneous sonic invention of American experimentalism. With dance and movement inspired by Japanese Butoh and Korean shamanic ritual, and storytelling that blends myth and autobiography, UMMA-YA explores transformation and transgression, queer ritual and ancestry, and the spiritual legacies of colonialism.
Production team: Sueann Leung, costume design; Charles Nicola, makeup; Mengwen Cao, photography.
Originally presented and live streamed by Roulette Intermedium on Saturday, June 26th 2021. Made possible by a 2021 Van Lier Fellowship from Roulette Intermedium.
In my solo work, UMMA-YA, in which a young boy learns she will be a mother, I explored the very personal story of my own transformation through an auto-mythology, or blur of autobiography and invented mythology. With musical and dance forms drawn from Korean traditional music and shamanic ritual, I used the work as a real-life, functional magic; one that catalyzed and made space for a necessary transformation, and shared that process nakedly, tenderly, and madly.
Juni One Set
Boy mother / faceless bloom
Juni One Set is Senga Nengudi (Colorado Springs), eddy kwon (Brooklyn), and Degenerate Art Ensemble’s Haruko Crow Nishimura & Joshua Kohl (Seattle).
Threading mythology and autobiography, while drawing from the diverse lineages of queer, anticolonial, and care-based artistic practices, Boy mother / faceless bloom is an interdisciplinary performance work by Juni One Set. Dance, music, poetry, ritual, and sculptural installation converge to tell a story of transformation, transgression, and the formation of new trancestral lines.
The piece has been co-created through an intensely collaborative process over the span of four years by Juni One Set: Senga Nengudi, eddy kwon, and Degenerate Art Ensemble’s Haruko Crow Nishimura and Joshua Kohl. Intuitive play, loving conversations, and a deep sense of trust allowed for the generative convergence of diverse artistic practices and life experiences.
“Our work is intensely collaborative, rooted in the deepest respect and love we hold for one another. Through an intentional, transformational process, we build a world within which we can be free. Our bodies live in fear, in the shadows of beginning-less violence, in joy and in care. Through ritual and embodiment, we find openings for healing and growth and invite others to arrive. We are trying to tell a story we never want to end.”
Created, Directed, and Performed by Juni One Set:
Senga Nengudi: co-creator, sculptural & costume design, movement
eddy kwon: co-creator, music, movement
Haruko Crow Nishimura: co-creator, movement, music
Joshua Kohl: co-creator, music, sound design, stage design
Degenerate Art Ensemble Production Team
Lighting Designer: Jessica Trundy
Projection Designer: Leo Mayberry
Video Editors: Ian Lucero and Leo Mayberry
Cinematographers: Ian Lucero and Leo Mayberry
Co-commissioned by the National Performance Network Creation Fund, Colorado College Performing Arts and Department of Innovation & Creativity, Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, and Contemporary Arts Center Cincinnati. Additional support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Premiered at Colorado College in February 2022. Upcoming 2023 performances at New York Live Arts co-presented by Dia Art Foundation, and more.
SUN HAN GUILD
Inspired by the Spirit Worshipers’ Guild of early 20th century Korea, SUN HAN GUILD uses ecstatic ritual performance as an opening for insight, transformation, and mosaic collectivity. SUN HAN GUILD is composer-improvisers eddy kwon, Laura Cocks, Jessie Cox, DoYeon Kim, and Lester St. Louis, with lighting designer Maggie Heath.
In May 2023, SUN HAN GUILD premiered EARTH IRIDESCENCE / SORROW CHURN at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn, as part of eddy’s 2023-24 residency. View the full performance here.
i. water seeps upward and blisters
ii. a subtle awareness, softening
iii. invitation of safe passage
i. n beginning n end
ii. sk below sk above
From the program notes: “EARTH IRIDESCENCE / SORROW CHURN is an expressive ritual of ecstatic collectivity, newness from foreverness, and an invitation of safe passage for all who are in transition. On a personal note, tonight is also my first major performance and premiere since beginning a health sabbatical at the start of this year. The process has been a painful & revealing one as I connect with my body's new capacities, edges, and truths. Increasingly, only deep gratitude remains. This time has also seen US politicians introduce, pass, and enact the largest number of anti-trans laws in the country's history. So this is also a time of unprecedented cruelty. I have been moved by fear at many moments in my life. In this piece, alongside dear friends, I try instead to move through it, tuned to the freedom available in each moment.”
eddy kwon – violin, voice, body
Laura Cocks – flutes, voice
Jessie Cox – percussion, voice
DoYeon Kim – gayageum, voice
Lester St. Louis – cello, voice
Maggie Heath – lighting design
There is a pattern / slow
i. sound is an opening
ii. on the edge
iii. no beginning no end
Performed live at The Clemente for MATA Festival in March 2022
Improvisational Friendship Ceremony
Improvisational Friendship Ceremony is a practice of tenderness, wildness, generosity, and joy. By creating a ritual space within which these qualities of experience can emerge, we catalyze an extemporaneous music that is embedded with the sensations of freedom.
There is no musical score, only a loose sequence of instructions meant to guide the process.
Improvisational Friendship Ceremony #9 with Lester St. Louis (cello)
The Art Ensemble of Chicago
50th Anniversary / The Sixth Decade
One of the most influential and visionary groups to grow out of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), The Art Ensemble of Chicago is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an expanded collective of musicians. eddy joins the AEOC as a violinist/violist and improviser, along with Tomeka Reid (cello), Jean Cook (violin), Silvia Bolognesi (bass), Junius Paul (Bass), Jaribu Shahid (bass), Nicole Mitchell (flute), Hugh Ragin (trumpet), Rocco Córdova (voice), Moor Mother (poetry, voice), Dudu Kouaté (percussion), and the AEOC’s Roscoe Mitchell and Famoudou Don Moye.
“...the record is a triumph, and if this isn’t what the original Art Ensemble sounded like, it is certainly the kind of experimental work it was trying to carve out space for.” (New York Times)
“Beyond its numerous recordings and performances, the ensemble’s legacy resides in the lasting impact the group’s sound has had on younger players, and the success of this show owed in no small part to its younger guests.” (Artforum)
International Contemporary Ensemble
Lesley Mok’s “stilled-leaf chatter”
eddy kwon – violin; Cory Smythe – piano & microtonal synthesizer; Dan Lippel – guitar; Lesley Mok – drums & composition
September 20, 2022 at Joe's Pub. Video courtesy of Joe's Pub
Improvisation with Cory Smythe
eddy kwon – violin
Cory Smythe – piano & microtonal synthesizer
December 9, 2022 at Target Margin Theater as part of International Contemporary Ensemble's program. Video courtesy of the Digitice Media Team.
Susan Alcorn Quintet
Susan Alcorn - Pedal Steel Guitar
eddy kwon - Violin
Mary Halvorson - Guitar
Michael Formanek - Bass
Ryan Sawyer - Drums
Written during a retreat on a New Mexico mesa, “Pedernal” is Susan Alcorn’s first album as a bandleader. The compositions blend free and structured improvisations with expansive and contemplative writing.
Deep gratitude to hero Mark Feldman, who plays violin on the album.
eddy kwon – violin
Isabel Crespo Pardo – voice
Zekkereya El-magharbel – trombone
Lesley Mok – drums
A new ensemble comprising improvisers, composer-performers, and interdisciplinary artists from Brooklyn and Detroit who explore the collective subconscious through improvisation, composition, and raucous, joyful experimentation. At once playful, ritualistic, ecstatic, grave, and surprising, the ensemble’s process and expressive possibilities are informed by each artist’s interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary practices, as well as a collective commitment to egalitarian decision making, friendship, and individual autonomy.
VIOLENCE is a performance piece for electro-acoustic quartet and tape. It is a reflection on the complex structures of violence that have, over many hundreds of years, created conditions for desperation, exclusion, callousness, and (ultimately) death in America.
VIOLENCE is a modest attempt to connect the expression of these structures in all their complexity.
VIOLENCE was commissioned by the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center for their 2015-16 Black Box Performance Series.
a r c h i p e l a g o
a r c h i p e l a g o is a single movement work for amplified string quartet inspired by Eric K M Clark's Deprivation Music. The quartet performs the exact same score from memory, but without the practical use of their eyes and ears. This sensory deprivation is achieved through the use of blindfolds, earplugs, and over-ear headphones blasting white noise. Harmonic, melodic, formal, and spatial elements were inspired by the Fibonacci sequence. The music is measured entirely in seconds, or 60 bpm, and lasts approximately 28 minutes and 20 seconds.
a r c h i p e l a g o was commissioned by the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center for their 2015-16 Black Box Performance Series.