This performance is inspired by the formal ways in which contemporary western medicine and precolonial rituals deal with pregnancy. Despite their difference in claims and procedures, both ancient and modern forms of dealing with birth and death have some formal similarities and each is steeped in culture, mysticism, religion and local custom. During human gestation, whether it is a trained physician with advanced technology or a shaman using natural elements, both try to communicate with the mother following protocols from their respective knowledge traditions. In both cases, pregnant women consult a specialist who differentiates themselves from a layperson through wearing a special garment or specialized built environment. In both cases, a feeling of comfort and confidence must be transmitted to the patient. In the case of western medicine, ultrasonography is used to visually diagnosticate if the fetus has any signs of disease, and, in the case of impatient parents, to determine the sex of their offspring.

To this day, there are certain groups in the world who believe that pregnancy continues after birth, and in fact, some of them reenact the process of gestation. One of these groups--the Kogi--has an intensive practice honoring our shift in perception as we transition from the womb to the outside world. Meant to represent the experience of being in utero, the male Kogi shamans and their young apprentices opt to live in secluded places in the Sierra, avoiding daylight and eating exclusively white foods. They do this for two nine year periods, a rigorous ritual mimicking the nine months of gestation in the womb. The process builds towards one ceremonious, sublime moment, where in a flash of sunlight their deities appear and free them from the confines of their sacred rite.

Presented as part of Fyodor's Performance Carousel at Wiener Festwochen 2016.

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Video Stills by Ilya Pusenkoff
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