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Posts: 62 Member Since: 21 May, 2014


Jul 31 16 3:43 PM

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On July 24 2016, late Sunday evening, I returned home from an amazing, fascinating, beautiful and intense weekend celebrating the opening of Anohni's exhibition "My Truth" at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Germany July 22, including a two day Art Symposium July 23/24. Among the artists present that weekend were Marina Abramovic, James Elaine, William Basinski, Johanna Constantine and, of course, Anohni.

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 - 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

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Rosa Blackstar

Posts: 715 Member Since:19 January, 2014

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Aug 2 16 4:18 PM

What a wonderful experience, alexa!!! Thanks so much for sharing all your feelings with us. As you well know, I was trying to go to the exhibition opening until the last minute (I even had reserved my tickets for the symposium and dinner), but fate wouldn't give me this happiness. Reading your accurate description of this weekend, I felt like I was there. I still hope to go to Bielefeld before the exhibition ends, who knows? Thank you very much for all your beautiful pictures, too. They help to get a rough idea of the importance of this exhibition. Anohni is an exceptional artist whatever she does: music, painting, sculpture, poetry... her whole life is a work of art!     image  image

Last Edited By: Rosa Blackstar Aug 3 16 1:37 PM. Edited 1 time.

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Posts: 62 Member Since:21 May, 2014

#3 [url]

Aug 2 16 6:41 PM

My dear Rosa, thank you for your kind words! I am very glad if my little and very personal report helped you to get an impression of the events and mood of this extraordinary weekend. I really wanted to share at least a little of the experience.... in terms of how it felt. Because of a hazy memory concerning some parts and not wanting to accidentally misquote, I didn't describe the content ( who said what when) and concentrated on the - naturally very personal and
subjective - impressions I had.
And it would have been so wonderful if you could have been there too, as we had initially planned!! 
The exhibition itself though is surely worth a trip to Bielefeld! I also felt it has found a very nice "home " there until mid-October  - the layout, light and general feeling of the Kunsthalle is intriguing and beautiful. 
All around, highly recommendable!

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Rosa Blackstar

Posts: 715 Member Since:19 January, 2014

#4 [url]

Aug 3 16 1:36 PM

Dear alexa, I'm still thinking of going to Bielefeld, of course. But the magic was broken in some way. I hope that the planets are aligned again, there is time until October. Let's see what happens... image

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Posts: 62 Member Since:21 May, 2014

#5 [url]

Aug 6 16 7:29 PM

One page at the website of Kunsthalle Bielefeld which unfortunately I cannot find again.... ( it has been there two days ago, for sure !)...
Apart from a description of the exhibition in English, they stated the following:
direct quote : 
" A symposium with a dance performance and concert will supplement the exhibition project, which will be staged at additional venues in Europe "
In Bielefeld at the opening weekend, there was no concert - which has been perfectly fine, because the personal session was at least as wonderful ..... but the interesting part for everyone who cannot travel to Bielefeld is certainly
"the additional venues in Europe " !!
So, there seems to be hope:-) ! ?

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Rosa Blackstar

Posts: 715 Member Since:19 January, 2014

#7 [url]

Aug 7 16 9:12 AM

Well, alexa... I think I've found the page you quoted, but not in the website of Kunsthalle Bielefeld, but here:

 I wish this change of source doesn't turn into less reliable this hopeful news....  

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Posts: 2 Member Since:14 August, 2016

#10 [url]

Aug 15 16 6:49 AM

Thank you very much, Rosa Blackstar!

After I visited the exhibition on Sunday I searched the internet for further informations, views, images (unfortunately I forgot my camera) and stumbled upon this community. I was impressed by this thread & wanted to add the link to Kunsthalle. Please excuse my English, I'm German.

I'll visit the exhibition again, it's marvellous. If you want some information about Kunsthalle or Bielefeld, aks me :)

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Rosa Blackstar

Posts: 715 Member Since:19 January, 2014

#11 [url]

Aug 15 16 11:13 AM

Thanks again, Dalaruan. Here you have another thread of our forum with more information about this exhibition:

But of course, alexa has written the best report, with her intimate feelings and beautiful pictures. I was about to go to the inauguration with her, but finally I couldn't. I have no doubt this is a great event. Anohni is a brilliant artist in everything she does. I still haven't lost hope of being able to visit Bielefeld before the close of the exhibition...

And don't worry about your English, it can't be worse than mine (I am Spanish). But the important thing is to understand each other. We all speak the same language here: "Love for Anohni!" image image


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Posts: 62 Member Since:21 May, 2014

#12 [url]

Aug 18 16 4:00 PM

Rosa, as always, you are too kind ! And Dalaruan, I am happy if you found some interesting photos of the artworks here.... Because they were so many photos already ( to be posted in a thread ) , there's no Peter Hujar ( his photos are easier to be found in the net, though those exhibited seem to be harder to find, apart from the one of Divine ). And Kazuo Ohno is present in film at the exhibition - and on a poster with, if I remember and deduct correctly, an interesting background story......
James Elaine's work is much more varied than these few photos here. "Balboa " is featured, with photos, in articles about the exhibition. 
As far as I understood during James Elaine 's talk, it was lost and has been reconstructed with a lot of work and effort. In the beginning, when they started talking about "Balboa ", I had no idea which artwork they were referring to ( there are no titles etc.) , but then I figured it out;-)
Not having seen any of his work before, James Elaine was quite a big "discovery " for me - I loved it ! 

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Ricardo Babooshka

Posts: 157 Member Since:20 October, 2015

#13 [url]

Aug 30 16 2:49 AM

Hello! and welcome to the forum, Dalaruan, i hope we get to see you here often!

i was in Bielefeld last weekend for the exhibition and i absolutely loved it. apart from seeing Anohni's work. which i feel us fans can get a lot more out of it than the regular visitor, i loved Peter Hujar's photographs and i loved to be introduced to the art of James Elaine, a really interesting artist.

Bielfeld's Kunsthalle is a great building and the surrounding area was really nice as well. Afterwards I will publish pics of some of my favourite works from the exhibition

i'm really glad i made the decision of making the journey and enjoying a different approach to Anohni's art

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