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Daniel Kok and Luke George explore the delicate rules of submission and domination in shibari while binding each other, and audience members, in rope.
D ark lighting combines with booming music. With naked torsos shining, artists Daniel Kok and Luke George slowly, carefully, bind each other in rope. They string themselves — and later audience members — from the ceiling, like colourful trussed chickens. Placed on stage are everyday objects, including a kettle, table and mop bound by neon string, lending a playfully surreal touch.
So sets the scene for the boundary-pushing installation Bunny, which premieres in Sydney this month. Commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre, Bunny explores the ancient Japanese knot-tying technique of shibari, but also taps into bondage and rock climbing. The underground erotic art remains japanese rope tie clandestine in its native Japan; finding teachers was tough. Central to the art is creating patterns that contrast and complement the natural curves of the usually female body. The beauty lies in juxtaposition: bare skin against rough rope, strength against exposure, a sense of calm against the knife-edge of risk.
The son of a courier, Kok is a former army officer and was once Singapore pole dancing champion. More than eroticism, gender and sexual representation is the focus of the durational piece — it runs for two and a half hours. The former is typically a petite, small-framed woman.
However, in their production of Bunny, both rigger Kok and bunny George are male and gay. The repercussions for the performer, he says, are huge. It becomes a sublime and massive task for me as an artist. To start the process, the two men went back to basics: learning how to tie a knot. They became acutely aware of heightened sensuality and an amplified attention to the body, to each lick of rope, each tightened boundary. Instead, sometimes, they push that individual further.
The delicate rules of submission and dominance — how much to take, how much to give — was explored in previews that were held in Singapore and Norway last year.
Audience members not only watched but were invited to in. He thinks that urge can be explained by two things. The other, I think, is a desire for spectacle [and a] desire for intimacy. Of course, it can be risky. In one preview, the pair tied up a male volunteer in his early 20s. Afterwards, a viewer chastised them for supposedly abusing the trust of someone young, someone gullible. For Kok, shibari is a practice imbued not only with heightened power but also humility and responsibility.
Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore. Thu 21 Jan Why Singapore censors took issue with an all-male cast Oscar Wilde play. Topics Stage Japan Theatre Dance features. Reuse this content.Japanese rope tie
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What to Know About Shibari, the Art of Japanese Rope Bondage