News & Insights

Q&A with Monica Lim

On her upcoming work, Jagad

Jagad began as a short dance film by by experimental Malaysian-Australian composer Monica Lim and iconic Indonesian director Garin Nugroho, danced by the Lengger dance virtuoso Rianto. Now this renowned work has been expanded and transformed into a lavish experience of live performance.

We asked Monica a few questions about how Jagad has evolved and what the creative process has looked like. 

Can you talk a bit about how this project came to evolve from on screen to a live performance? 

This project started from sound, a vague conception of a work that could somehow capture the whole range of human emotion – a bit ambitious, I know! I always imagined it as a live performance involving dance, as I absolutely love dance, despite never having trained as a dancer. And I always had Rianto in mind as well, since watching his work Medium at Supersense many years ago. At the time, Rianto was working with Indonesian film director Garin Nugroho on a number of projects, and after listening to the draft music, they agreed to develop it as a short experimental dance film. It was actually lucky that we did that, because of course the world went into pandemic mode not long after, and all live performance plans went out the window. 

Developing the film allowed Rianto, Garin and I to further develop the conceptual themes of Jagad, the different sections that spoke to the 4 desires that shape humanity and the Javanese conception of the inner and outer universe. The film also pushed me into thinking of incorporating live video into the performance, as a way to convey the idea of different perceptions of reality and scale. I’m glad that Arts House is giving us the opportunity to finally present the work as a live performance, true to the original intention. 

What does your creative process look like when you are in development and execution mode? 

I love to work in collaborative teams because no one can be an expert in everything. I find it’s best to work with people I can trust, and then trust them to take the project in other directions that I would not have thought about on my own. It’s not about diversion from the original concept, but broadening it, making it deeper and more layered. 

The creative process is always iterative. With this work, for example, we start from the sound, but that is just a starting point. The sound provides ideas for the movement, but then the movement changes the sound, and so on. 

What do you hope audiences take away from the performance?

A feeling that something has shifted in themselves. That’s the ultimate hope and goal. It’s the kind of feeling you get when you look out into the ocean. Time shifts, space shifts, even perception of colour shifts. Is blue really blue? Is the sky the ocean, and the ocean the sky? 

Monica Lim is a pianist, composer and sound technologist. Monica has produced work for theatre, contemporary dance, installations and film, as well as solo and ensemble instrumental pieces. She is interested in new cross-disciplinary genres and forms as well as combinations of new technology with music. Her work has been presented at White Night, Melbourne Fringe, Arts Centre Melbourne, AsiaTOPA, Science Gallery Melbourne and international conferences such as ANAT Spectra and ISEA. Monica is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne in gesture-led composition and Artificial Intelligence in interactive art.

Jagad by Monica Lim, Rianto and Melanie Lane
Wednesday 3 – Sunday 7 August, 2022
Wed – Sat, 7.30pm 
Sun, 5pm 

Audio Described performance Fri 5 Aug, 7.30pm.

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