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Friday, January 13th, 2023, 24:00 | midnight
#127: Annika Kahrs

We are delighted to start our 2023 program with Annika Kahrs. In videos, installations and performances, she conduct research at the borders of what we generally call music, asking about the cultural and social function of music, its communicative aspects and its formal composition. She is interested in questions of when music starts, where does it emerge, what happens at the border of mere noise. In this context, the relationship between humankind and nature, the poetic and aesthetic dimension of natural science, as well as social and political structures in various contexts are important. A link between these themes are methods of interpretation and translation – understood both as artistic means and as the construction and perception of everyday life. Sound is used here as a means of communication, music as a language serving as both, outlet and metaphor. 

Annika Kahrs will show:

Strings, 2010, 8:20 min
A string quartet plays the first bars of Ludwig van Beethovens Opus 18 No. 4 in C Minor from 1800. Dramatic and penetrating, as the score demands, the violins, viola and cello combine rising Fortissimo and quiet Staccati to a harmonic whole. The balanced homogenity comes to an end as the music stops after the first melody and the musicians exchange places with the player to their right. Now, with each other’s instruments, things become very different. The game becomes a balancing act between fragility and catastrophy: an unexpected note here, seconds of silence between light and sharp dissonances there. Noticably unsure the participants fight their way through the score. This exchanging places to the right happens a total of four times until every player has sat in every chair. At the end, the musicians laugh nervously into the camera – the ‘before the game’ has become an afterwards and the participants seem relieved to realise this. (text excerpt: Katrin Diederichs, catalogue text ‘Strings’, 2010)

performed live at Hebbel am Ufer HAU Theater, Berlin, 2013 on the occasion of the exhibition Iskele 2; TANAS, n.b.k.; Performance-Programme ‘Schwanengesang’ & at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, 2016 & at Goldsmiths, University of London, England, 2011.

Infra Voice, 2018, 3 channel video installation, sound, 10:35 min
The installation connects, on an acoustic and visual level, the peculiar musical instrument known as the octobass and the equally fascinating giraffe and the recent area of research surrounding its acoustic communication. A central role in this work is played by the sound of the instrument, the lowest note of which lies in the infrasound range that cannot be perceived by the human ear, and the deep sounds produced by the animal, called ‚humming‘. In the film installation, the octobass and the giraffe come into contact via sound, as well as formally through the use of image. ‚Infra Voice‘ takes as its theme, the analysis of communication through sound, and the human perception of this.

our Solo, 2021, video and 5 channel sound installation, 24:25 min
The work explores the connections between space and sound in a period of isolation: The video and sound installation our Soloexperiments with mixing the perception of music in a classical concert hall and of music played in a private setting. Four professional musicians are seen, who seemingly enter into a dialogue across physical distances. Three of these musicians play alone in their private homes, to practice pieces of music and melodies, and improvise individual fragments of sound. Their music seems to transcend through the walls of an empty concert hall, and onto the stage of an opera singer. Different melodies emerge and invite her directly to interact with these domestic performances and intimate moments.

Commissioned by BNKR – current reflections on art and architecture on occasion of
the exhibition „The Architecture of Confinement“, curated by Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil.

Sunset Sunrise, 2011, 1:41 min
First one sees the image of a sunset. But instead of a slowly sinking sun, the image fades. As the image becomes increasingly overexposed we see that this image of a sunset is being projected onto a screen in a darkened lecture theatre. The overlighting is caused by the opening of a blind and the influx of daylight this causes. As the image oft he sunset disappears, we can increasingly make out the stage of the lecture theatre with a projection screen, lectern and desk.

the lord loves changes, it’s one of his greatest delusions, 2018, 15:49 min
Kahrs’ explicit interest in the mutation of music and its meaning in a specific time or context is also at play in the work the lord loves changes, it’s one of his greatest delusions 2018, which was presented both as a live performance and video installation in the context of MaerzMusik and the exhibition “WE HAVE DELIVERED OURSELVES FROM THE TONAL – Of, With, Towards, On Julius Eastman”. The work takes its cue from two iconic pieces by Julius Eastman – “The Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc” and “Gay Guerrilla” – as well as the observation that the latter of these pieces is based on Martin Luther’s chorale “Ein Fester Burg Ist Unser Gott”, the ultimate protest song of the Reformation movement. This chorale was used, parodied and reinterpreted as a hymn in the most diverse of contexts in the 19th and 20th centuries – from national-militarist circles during the German-French war, to the the social-democratic worker’s movement, the R.A.F., the anti-nuclear movement, and, circa 1980, to Eastman’s “Gay Guerilla”. In Kahrs’ adaptation, while an organists plays the piece on a church organ, a whistling choir is forming that partly accompanies the swelling organ tone and partly goes against it. As in Eastman’s open composition, it thus deconstructs the melody in order to reinterpret it again in a new way. In the rising and falling staccato the fragile, manmade whistling confronts the mechanistic lungs of the organ pipe. Through the spirituality of the piece sounds the uproar of the protest. As in almost all of Annika Kahrs’ works, what is at issue here is pushing the elasticity of music and science to the utmost limit – in the factual as well as in the figurative sense. The single voice asserts itself within an orchestration in which one must interpret and endure all nuances between harmonious interplay and provoked dissonance. What is also at issue here is the unlearning of rehearsed habits and apparent certainties – in order to negotiate daily situations anew. (text excerpt: Eva Scharrer, catalogue text Annika Kahrs – shifting sounds, 2019)

Musical arrangement: Louis d’Heudieres,
commissioned by SAVVY Contemporary, co-produced by MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues,
funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Annika Kahrs (born 1984) lives and works in Hamburg and Berlin. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally, including Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Germany; 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, Greece; Savvy Contemporary, Berlin, Germany; On the Road exhibition project in Santiago de Compostela, Spain; the Bienal Internacional de Curitiba, Brazil; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany; Hybrid Art Festival in Moskau, Russia; KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, Germany; Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Germany; Gropius Bau, Berlin; Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany; Flat Time House London, England, the Velada de Santa Lucia Festival in Maracaibo, Venezuela and MONA Foma, Tasmania, Australia; 16th Lyon Biennale of contemporary art, France. She has been awarded a number of prizes and scholarships including Villa Aurora, L.A., VILA SUL, Brazil, Max-Pechstein-Förderpeis, Stiftung Kunstfonds or the George-Maciunas-Förderpreis, donated by René Block.