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Recording: 2024-03-23 , HAU2 Hebbel am Ufer (Video © Bickmann & Kolde GbR)

Joshua Serafin


HAU Hebbel am Ufer (HAU2)

Production Details / Press Releases

“PEARLS” is the third and final iteration of a larger piece of work entitled “Cosmological Gangbang,” which seeks to create a novel suite of movements for ungovernable bodies and the ecologies they inhabit. With “PEARLS”, Brussels-based Filipino multi-media artist Joshua Serafin, alongside their collaborators from the Philippines – Lukresia Quismundo and Bunny Cadag – incarnates through live performance the nonnormative figures celebrated in the Philippine archipelago prior to empire. In dance, song, and theatre, Serafin, Quismundo, and Cadag abandon the binary they have inherited from colonial culture, gesturing toward their future selves to rediscover an ancestral body promised by the gender-diverse.

The performance takes as a starting point for its various movements a genealogy of indigenous gender identities in the Philippines lived and expressed as fluid and resistant to binary representation. This gender nonconformity is grounded in the divine and was embodied by high priestesses fulfilling themselves in various incarnations of the feminine and passed on through genres of oral wisdom. As tellers of these tales in the present, the performers hope to translate their knowledge of local gender- diverse spirituality through a global idiom that would inspire conversations among peers and co- conspirators beyond their homeland.

“PEARLS” dreams to rewrite history and speculate a possible future, by conjuring reveries where the body transforms into the divine – mortals become gods and goddesses, merge with the cosmos, and create nature out of nonbinary form. As a decolonial fantasy, the work seeks to imagine queer and trans bodies of color from the global south through the particular predicaments and aspirations proposed by Filipino experience.

The title “PEARLS” references “Perla de Oriente,” (Pearl of the Orient) the sobriquet attributed to the Philippines by Spanish missionary Juan José Delgado in Historia de Filipinas (1751) and “Perla del Mar de Oriente,” (Pearl of the Orient Sea) which opens the second line of Filipino national hero José Rizal’s valedictory poem Último Adiós (1896). In this sense, a pearl stands in for the motherland by turns imagined as colony and nation, a tropical paradise that inspired priests and patriots in fulfilling acts of religion as well as revolution.

Ultimately, “PEARLS” is a ritual of healing. As performers, Joshua, Lukresia, and Bunny acknowledge the pain they share as gender-diverse brown bodies, confessing stories of trauma they wish to transform into scenes of beauty, just like when nacre covers a foreign particle that finds its way into an oyster, forming a pearl in the depths of the ocean that would defy all manner of tempest and perhaps even elude the eyes of greed.

“PEARLS” is the last part of the trilogy “Cosmological Gangbang”. The second part, “VOID”, was shown at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in June 2023. Joshua Serafin is also part of the main exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2024.


TFB Nr. 1869

Cast & Credits

Concept: Joshua Serafin
Performance: Joshua Serafin, Quismundo, Bunny Cadag
Sound design: Lilienfeld
Scenography: RV
Light design: Fudetani
Costume design: Katrien Baetslé
Video: Federico Vladimir Strate Pezdirc
Artistic assistant: Rasa Alksnyte
Research: Jaya Jacobo
Outside eye: Arco Renz

Co-production: HAU Hebbel am Ufer, VIERNULVIER (Gent), BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen), beursschouwburg (Brüssel), STUK (Leuven), WpZimmer & C- TAKT (Antwerpen), Theater Rotterdam

HAU Hebbel am Ufer (HAU2)

Hallesches Ufer 32
10963 Berlin

Tickets: +49 (0)30 259 004 27

Video Documentation

The video documentation is produced on behalf of the Senate Department for Culture and Social Cohesion. The purpose of this contract is to document productions in the field of contemporary dance in Berlin. The master recordings are archived by the University Library of the Berlin University of Arts. Copies of the recordings on DVD are available for viewing exclusively in the reference collections of the following archives (at media desks in these institutions):

University Library of the Berlin University of Arts
Mediathek für Tanz und Theater des Internationalen Theaterinstituts / Mime Centrum Berlin
Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin (HZT)

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