Dance Marathon Journal #8

Ng Yi-Sheng

September 14, 2015



31 AUGUST, 7 – 10PM


A durational installation



MARGIE MEDLIN is interested in the relationship between dance and the moving image. For 25 years, she has lit and designed new dance performances, as well as produced film, video and new media art works. From 2007 to 2015, Medlin was the Director of Critical Path, a choreographic research centre in Sydney. In 2013, Medlin was nominated for an Arts Asia Award for her mentorship work with Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore. In 2014, she received an artistic leadership award from the Australia Council of the Arts. Her media art work has been exhibited extensively around the world, including in Germany, Japan, Finland, India, the US, Cuba and Australia. 


What were your initial thoughts on first receiving your corresponding Archive Box?

I was inspired by Mikuni Yanaihara’s Archive Box centred on the theme of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. I think that, as a growing global community, we need to debate issues affecting us in public, rather than simply defining conflict as a national security threat. Mikuni has provoked me to engage with my concern that governments are merely massaging their economic and political impulses.

From what you saw of the Archive Box, could you imagine what the ‘original’ dance was like? Have you seen the dance?

The Archive Box (bag) I was handed contained a set of costumes, a short text on Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and a plastic envelope with about 100 sheets of diversely patterned, family-friendly origami paper. The costumes, for males and females, are beautifully detailed and sewn. They are military camouflage, deep green in colour, and are printed with mirror-image text from Article 9 i.e., only the wearer reads the Japanese the right way round when wearing the shirt. The material is soft, with subtly changing textures, fluid like that of a flag. I have interpreted these costumes as remnant skins without bodies. 

How have you prepared for the response presentation?

Responding to Mikuni’s Archive Box has become a research platform to invite some contemporaries to speak with me on a range of related topics. I have appreciated the open framework given to me by Mikuni’s Archive Box. Even though I can only imagine Mikuni’s performance (the ‘original’ dance), I have been inspired by what I have received to explore the theme of the visibility and invisibility of people in conflict.

The working title of my response to Mikuni's Box is 'first skin' consisting of 'second dance' and 'red line'. My ‘second dance’ enlists my interviewees’ voices to embody the remnant skins I have been given. My response takes on a huge topic and hence can only be a work-in-progress that has taken shape from eight conversations with people (the ensemble) about their relationships to conflict and war. My ensemble entwines ‘first skin’ perspectives from Germany, Australia, Ukraine and the US.

My process and methodology is drawn from my collaborative design practice. My ‘red line’ teases out a contemporary dialogue about conflict, sensationalism, nationalism and the place of cinema heroes. My intention is to create images that are discordant with the conventional manipulations by which the medium of the moving image is made synonymous with sensationalism, commercialism and propaganda of conflict. In my response, I intend to create non-prescriptive frames. I propose a space of listening, a place from where things appear.

How has working on this Archive Box project affected your notions of archival?

As globalisation flourishes, I walk around modern Western cities with the feeling that I am in ancient history. At the time when the human race was only in its infancy. When half the world’s population lived mainly in cities and believed in good and evil, while other world factions engaged in religious and territorial conflict or simply struggled to survive with less than basic resources. I assume we are making history now.

The title, “First Skin”, refers to people’s fundaments, our underbellies, the initial layers of information we enunciate – our gut responses. Our ‘first skin’ is hardwired against change and most people find it hard to articulate. It formed in our early years and, from inside this skin, we learn about conflict and possibly the meaning of war.


Interviews (with many thanks to): Benedict Anderson, Peter Banki,

Frank Biesendorfer, Claudia Garbe, Yuriy Kuzin,Susanne Martin,

Martin Nachbar, Tim Tetzner & Seigmar Zacharias

Video Editing: Margie Medlin with Russell Morton

Thanks to: Martin Lutz, The Australian Broadcasting

Commission Radio Archives

  • 2015