Animist beliefs are still widely held in the Congo, but their expression is only a taboo, hidden or even cursed shadow. “Nkisi” is a word in Lingala, the mother tongue of Jolie Ngemi. It can commonly mean ‘remedy’, ‘witchcraft’, ‘medicine’, or designate a sacred fetish. As a large part of the population lives in poverty, any success is questioned. It is said that the person who succeeds must have touched the Nkisi, used witchcraft and called upon mystical spirits.
Jolie has herself, who is an example of success in Congo through her dancing career in Europe, been judged in this way: alleging that she is a witch who must have touched the Nkisi. Before the colonization such women were also called Nkisi, who were asked by the kings to carry out magic rituals to prevent misfortunes.
The dancer, choreographer and musician Jolie Ngemi places traditional Nkisi knowledge at the centre of her solo performance and rekindles the flame of its healing power.
Nkisi aims to transport the audience into a world of female superhero powers. A journey in which one abandons oneself totally as in a daydream where the physical and psychic worlds collide. What has remained of these practices? Can they once again be ascribed power in today's crisis-ridden world? And who could these powerful Nkisi women be today, these mediators of occult powers who were once the secret advisors of kings?
Production: Cie AUC. Co-production: HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Arsenic - Centre d'art scénique contemporain, Kaserne Basel, STUK - Arts Center vzw, Charleroi-Danse - Centre chorégraphique de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. Supported by: City of Lausanne, Loterie Romande, Canton Basel-Landschaft, Ernst Göhner Foundation, Pro Helvetia - support for research trips.