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This is my short personal report about the "highlights":
First, the exhibition:
What can I say? It is gorgeously and beautifully curated, the overall feeling is airy, open and also intimate, deeply personal at the same time. It offers an impressive variety of wonderfully intriguing, fascinating artworks and is "round", coherent at the same time.
I felt touched, moved, emotionally and intellectually challenged. It is very "giving" and I felt enriched. I think it is a wonderful and generous concept to include these three artists personally so very important for Anohni (James Elaine, Peter Hujar, Kazuo Ohno), with James Elaine obviously being a dear old friend whose work has rarely been exhibited so far. I am also very fond of the idea to leave the artworks completely unexplained!
Of all exhibitions I have visited/experienced until today, which have been many over the years, this one is among my personal favorites and the one I could emotionally relate to the most. Truly one of a kind and unique, just like Anohni.
The weekend :
On the official opening ceremony on Friday, July 22, quite a few people talked, like the director of Kunsthalle Bielefeld, the mayor of Bielefeld and someone who constantly mixed up personal pronouns and didn't get Anohni's name right most of the time ( he often said Ayoni !) , both of which made the press photographer standing next to me (and me as well ) cringe..... Everything they all said concerning Anohni and her art was extremely appreciative and favorable, with Dr. Friedrich Meschede, director of Kunsthalle Bielefeld, also explaining how it all evolved from a first idea to the final exhibition.
Then Marina Abramovic held a highly personal and deeply heartfelt, moving speech about Anohni, her authenticity, honesty and some aspects of Anohni's art. Followed by many beautiful, inspiring, insightful, wise and honest words from Anohni, appearing on stage carrying a grey sheep skin with her ( reminding me of Linus from Peanuts), who in her very own inimitable way left the audience tremendously moved.
While she was speaking though, one person strangely left the overcrowded auditorium, being escorted out by a spontaneous singing improvisation " you're leaving, oh oh.....why are you leaving......"
And Johanna Constantine gave one of her very special performances.
Saturday and Sunday, an Art Symposium with fascinating program was on the schedule.
The highlight during the two day symposium was - not surprisingly - Anohni's beautifully unconventional contribution Saturday afternoon. She entered the auditorium stage, wearing a gorgeous hard to define sky-blue and grey knitted sort of top (?) ...., sat down in her chair behind a table, asked us to please not take photos and then looked at the audience, silently, for quite a while. The elderly woman next to me sounded genuinely concerned mumbling to herself:
"Oh, wow, she looks so tired ".
Yes, Anohni did look tired. I could feel some attendees becoming confused and slightly nervous after a bit, surely wondering what this is going to be...... After some minutes Anohni addressed us and asked us to say a word or a few about what's on our minds, in the forefront of our thoughts. It began hesitantly, shyly, until people finally got the hang of it, with Anohni commenting either a tiny bit, or quite a bit, or more....... on everything that came up. And also asking back if what someone had said was unclear or not understandable or requiring a discussion ..... Later, she had the idea to count together, to count the number of attendees with her, starting with the last row in the back. While we were counting with her, she looked at each person saying "their" number, thus establishing a personal connection for a moment with EACH single person in the room -174! Including Anohni, we were 175, of course. At one point, I think it was after the counting (my memory is a bit hazy after so many impressions, so much input during the whole weekend) , she told us openly and honestly - truthfully - why she had hardly slept the previous night and how she was feeling.
It was beautiful and intense, the mood in the end being so intimate and personal, that, given a bit more time, I am certain , almost everyone present would have revealed and discussed openly their most private and shameful secrets, problems, emotions with 174 strangers and with Anohni in particular. A stunning experience!
The whole session seemed improvised and the counting was a tiny bit Marina Abramovic reminiscent.
I carefully assumed there could have been a spontaneous change of plans, as Anohni was so tired, because the first thing I noticed when I entered the auditorium that day was a grand piano at one side of the stage.... raising hopes for a musical performance in quite a few of the attendees as I was told....
After an urgently needed coffee break, Nanako Nakajima, a philosophical dance researcher and lecturer, talked about Kazuo Ohno and the connection to Anohni. Her lecture was beautifully crafted and spoken, a joy to perceive and created more intense and emotional moments.
On an afternoon filled up with them! I felt kind of overflowing with that much input, so many emotions and impressions, so much intensity.
Then Johanna performed one more time, looking very thrilling as usual.
After all that, I was looking forward to a glass of wine on the terrace of the restaurant of Kunsthalle Bielefeld where I had registered for a dinner that evening. When I noticed the name of the restaurant I was wondering for a moment whether it had been renamed especially for the occasion....... The restaurant is called "Johnson's", named after the architect of Kunsthalle, Philip Johnson, what a funny coincidence!
Obviously, quite a number of people had registered for this kind of mystery dinner and changed their minds at last minute. Apart from three courses being served, the organizational person I registered with could not tell me what would happen or who would attend, stating "We don't expect any of the artists to be there."
A couple of tables were set - and most remained empty. In the end, only two tables were occupied.
Since I had developed a hang for counting persons that day....... and there weren't many to count: there was one long table with 19 guests - the director of Kunsthalle Bielefeld and assistants, lecturers for the symposium , some persons I didn't know, Johanna, James Elaine, William Basinski and, joining them some time later to our big surprise, Anohni.
At the only other occupied shorter table, we were 8 persons ( unbelievably only EIGHT - including me). I met three lovely ladies (a translator from Poland and two curators, we all have travelled to Bielefeld for the exhibition and symposium), the four others stayed on their own. Another funny coincidence: one of the curators at my table is friends with Pamela Sneed, who is one of the performers appearing on screen at the "Hopelessness” concerts. We also found out we already could have met four weeks earlier at - ...no surprise! - the "Hopelessness” concert in Cologne. Johanna DJ-ed after dinner.
The guests at the large table kept to themselves the whole time - and, feeling interaction would not have been appropriate, so did we, of course. We didn't even dare to check our cell phones for messages while in the dining room, afraid of possibly creating the impression to secretly take photos ! William Basinski occasionally gave us a smile and cheerfully wished a good night when he left. The purpose of this dinner event, organized as being accessible to everyone interested and turning out as being like in different worlds, remained a mystery.
The way it was, we four did enjoy a very lovely, fascinating evening with each other, which, considering the unusual circumstances, felt slightly surreal as well.
The last speaker on Sunday was James Elaine, introduced by the director of Kunsthalle, who obviously had planned for a serious art talk, asking him: “Do you want to talk about James Elaine the curator or James Elaine the artist?" James, curator, artist etc. did not fall for that, simply started talking about what came to his mind, interrupted by constant hilarious comments from William Basinski , who, after a few minutes, spontaneously joined James on stage. They, actually mostly William, reminisced how they both have met, how they met Anohni, the old times, Arcadia...... with occasional additional questions or anecdotes from Anohni. When James and William (they were too sweet !), the two "lovebirds", as Marina Abramovic put it, seemed to be getting too sidetracked with personal topics, she intervened and asked James Elaine about the dead animals in his work, so we then got enlightening insights into his artworks as well. When I first encountered his works Friday evening, I had to think of Peter Greenaway, whose work I am very familiar with - dead animals pressed like flowers in books with classical paintings, stacks of seasoned, weathered, maybe half-burned, worn out books hinting at birth, death and everything in between....., books out of which beans are growing....
And those weathered, almost destroyed, seasoned books with plants growing out of them also reminded me of an older Anohni song - “from the corpses flowers grow”.
This very personal session combined with "historical "anecdotes was just the perfect ending for amazing three days full of input, impressions, emotions, inspirations, fascinating encounters (briefly but wonderfully, also with Anohni).... and lots more.
I feel very privileged and honored I could have been there! It has been a beautiful, intense and absolutely unforgettable weekend.
And, dear Anohni, in case you read this : Thank you so very much ! It has been a tremendous joy.
Last Edited By: alexa Aug 24 16 4:49 AM. Edited 23 times