Serge Olivier Fokoua

By Jessica Karuhanga

To dare is to do

Serge Olivier Fokoua, To dare is to do 7a*11d 2016 PHOTO Henry Chan

Serge Olivier Fokoua has stated the objects he uses in his performances are diverted from their original context to achieve the effect of collision. After witnessing his utilization and re-framing of materials it is clear this process of assembly and disassembly are gestures which hope to invoke new and affective meaning.

A concrete block rests in the centre of the space and a suitcase is placed to the side. Fokoua, who is dressed in white undergarments, draws a blue comforter and spray-bottle from a suitcase and places them behind the block. Perched on the concrete block he then reaches into a bowl and proceeds to knead and pull out dough. The dough is wet enough to stick and each tugging gesture is both considered and exaggerated. He presents a ball before the audience and then continues to knead, stretch and pull its damp form over his hands, palms and finally his forearms. The dough becomes a shield like a hood or second skin. Fokoua then stands and walks along the perimeter of the stage several times. His pace is slow and steadfast before he returns to the blue comforter where he begins to cover his dough-covered arms with green liquid from the spray-bottle. He returns to the block or stool. He tells us he needs the pots and within moments three assistants procured steaming pots and placed them at his feet. He insisted they move them closer to his body. The assistants retreat back into the audience and Fokoua then reaches behind him, while his eyes remain fixed on the audience, to begin tugging at the blanket. He pulls it over his head and covers all that remains, the objects and his body.

We can hear him remove the lids and we witness wavering moments where slight protrusions poke through the blanket. His inhales and exhales are incessant and their intensity increases with each breathe. Faster and faster still. It is hard not to cringe and witnessing you loose yourself and are swept up in his breath. The pace of these sounds are distressing but I trust he is in control.

The sheath is removed. He emerges and his arms are now bare, body is red and sweating. The cadence of his breathing is heavy but it slows and he soon departs. We are left with the collision of his exhale against our inhales and they are meshing with the rising scent of pineapple and lemongrass. Members from the audience rush to the centre to investigate the refuse of his conjuring.

Serge Olivier Fokoua, To dare is to do 7a*11d 2016 PHOTO Henry Chan

Serge Olivier Fokoua, To dare is to do 7a*11d 2016 PHOTO Henry Chan

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