Photo: Bas De Brouwer
Kyabajo (2018) is a solo piece where the identity of the typical Japanese hostess is embodied and gets deconstructed in a surreal way.
There is a quest moving on from the beginning and it’s rooted in the research of how power can manifest in subtle ways: how a role that’s normally thought as submissive can reveal itself as more ambiguous and complex.
The challenge to talk about this complexity is taken through the use of abstractions that estrange this figure from her original context and put her in a one that is slightly more dreamy.
She finds herself facing and interfacing with a series of objects meant to become installations that let her subconscious emerge.
The Kyabajo is a flirting hostess.
She serves drinks, lights cigarettes and has intelligent conversations with hard-working businessman.
But who has the power in this relationship? And who uses who?
Between 2005 and 2008 Jija Sohn worked in Tokyo as a kyabajō, which can be translated as a bar-girl, in a kyabakura (cabaret) bar.
Even though the kyabajō is not a prostitute, it is looked down upon as a career.
Although the kyabajō is a widely known phenomenon in Japan, in Western societies this type of career is quite unknown and a taboo even.
After working as a performance artist for a few years now, Jija decided to bring the kyabajō in a theatrical setting, exploring the role the hostess takes, the woman that’s behind the mask of the flirtatious bar-woman and playing with the typical power-roles and agency.
At times flirtatious and humorous, other times dead serious and alienating, Jija Sohn’s disarming and sensual performance plays with the (un)ease of the spectator.
Jija Sohn started the Kyabajo journey in March 2017 at Fraslab, Frascati (Amsterdam), where she showed her work after three works in the studio.
In May she had a three-weeks residency at Dansmakers Amsterdam with a studio-presentation and extensive feedback session with the audience.
In March 29, 2018, Jija will have Dutch Premier at Theatre Bellevue Amsterdam.