Abecedarium Bestiarium

Portraits of affinities in animal metaphors

In Abecedarium Bestiarium the Berlin-based choreographer Antonia Baehr has invited her friends to write short pieces for her, based on an ABC of extinct animals: D is for Dodo, T is for Tasmanian tiger, S is for Steller’s sea cow . . . . The authors choose an extinct animal that they feel strongly about. This brings about heterogenous choreographic miniatures in which they reflect their respective affinity to the chosen animal as well as their friendship to Antonia Baehr.

„Antonia Baehr—for me—had thus created a desire to join her beforehand, before she entered the scene as body-and-voice. T… D … F … C … L … S … M … Y …, a nine-letter-promise to breathe, to add soul, to en-spirit the score, a promise that touches upon an intricate, impossible kind of homecoming; a homecoming that only works when authors, vowels, origins are absent. (…) There must be a transgression of origin, and a transgression of text, to show facets now of what cannot be named or defined, and Antonia Baehr approaches this question in a playful and unending act of veiling and unveiling. The more she undresses on stage, the more she seems to put on just another mask of another extinct animal, a performance of skins in which eyes become nipples and nipples become eyes. The skin of Antonia Baehr is part of her repertoire wardrobe, bringing to light the faces of letters-and-scores-and-other-things through vicarious play and intercourse; she opens up a field of desire, beyond male and female, un texte de jouissance. (…) Antonia Baehr does not aim at the sensus literalis of zoological matters in the question she put out to her friends: the „Abecedarium Bestiarium“ presents „Portraits of affinities in animal metaphors“. One might expect to see portraits, but we see portraits of affinities, affinities between Antonia’s friends and what they feel about an extinct animal, interpreted, presented and performed. Like in 16th-century Persian miniature paintings, the animal portraits of Antonia Baehr imitate poetry, not nature. This kind of poetic mimicry is itself presented by her in animal metaphors, that is to say, one affinity is presented by another, one likeness is mirrored by another, scores of animal metaphors are enacted by more animal metaphors, a hall of mirrors, translated from text to score to performance and back ad infinitum. It seems Antonia Baehr develops an entire universe of mirrored, deflected, postponed, and queerly dragged affinities in [animal] metaphors, a potentially unbound cosmos ruled by erotic bindings that traverse bodies, texts, scores, space, and time, acted out by her own male-and-female-body in a language created by the relationships that come across her way, a language involving voice, sound, body, movement, text, and architecture, called „Abecedarium Bestiarium“. Antonia Baehr’s Bestiarium is an Ursprungstheater of a language and an epistemic architecture yet to come: she offers her body as a stunning depository for the unconscious, the unconscious of others and herself that resurfaces as public performance, courageously undoing the bloody order of things, with humor, desire, freaky and curious stuff taking the lead, letting the imagination go free.“
– from: A. S. Bruckstein Çoruh, „Hall of Mirrors: Seventy Veils of Separation“, in: „Abecedarium Bestiarium – Portraits of affinities in animal metaphors“, ISBN 978-2-9700886-1-5, december 2013, edited by far° festival des arts vivants Nyon & make up productions Berlin, 16€, www.booksonthemove.eu

(…) venturing upstairs to HAU 2 to see Antonia Baehr’s Abecedarium Bestiarium-Affinitaeten in Tiermetaphern, her sculptural masterclass meditation consisting of dahliac scores for extinct animals. The brilliantine Miss Baehr and her alter ego Werner Hirsch were in fine form radiating in the sublime glow of manima/womina affinities. The audience was rapt in this evenings lush spring night of orchestral movement and sonorities with churning energy aided by a superb soundcape and La Baehr’s mystical vocal conjuring. The hexen spirit was in apt supply. There were so many lovely moments of pure geniustrata (…). Antononia Baehr has an endless reservoir of stage presence, timing and allure that comes together in high Garlandish blatancy.

– Vaginal Davis, May 13, 2013


Abecedarium Bestiarium

Portraits d’affinités en métaphores animales

Dans Abecedarium Bestiarium, la chorégraphe berlinoise Antonia Baehr a invité ses ami(e)s à écrire des compositions pour elle, basées sur un abécédaires d’animaux disparus: D comme dodo , T comme tigre de Tasmanie, S comme Steller’s sea cow (la rhytine de Steller)… Les auteur(e)s choisissent un animal disparu avec lequel elles/ils ont une affinité. Il en résulte des miniatures chorégraphiques hétéroclites qui reflètent leur relation respective à l’animal choisi ainsi que leur amitié avec Antonia Baehr.


Abecedarium Bestiarium

Affinitäten in Tiermetaphern

In Abecedarium Bestiarium hat die Berliner Choreografin Antonia Baehr ihre Freund_innen eingeladen, Kompositionen für sie zu schreiben, die auf einem Abc ausgestorbener Tiere basieren: D wie Dodo, T wie Tasmanischer Tiger, S wie Steller’sche Seekuh … Die Autor_innen suchen sich ein ausgestorbenes Tier aus, mit dem sie sich verbunden fühlen. So entstehen verschiedenartige choreografische Miniaturen, in denen sie ihre jeweilige Verwandtschaft zu dem ausgewählten Tier reflektieren und ebenso ihre Freundschaft zu Antonia Baehr.


pict.: from original etchings by Dodo Heidenreich, Antonia Baehr, Keren Ida Nathan, Nanna Heidenreich, 2012

Overall concept, production and performance: Antonia Baehr

With compositions by: Fred Bigot (electronicat), Pauline Boudry, Valérie Castan, Lucile Desamory, Vinciane Despret, Sabine Ercklentz, Dodo Heidenreich, Christian Kesten, Keren Ida Nathan (Ida Wilde), Andrea Neumann, Stefan Pente, Isabell Spengler, Steffi Weismann,William Wheeler, a. o.

Artistic collaboration : Valérie Castan

Lights : Sylvie Garot

Sound : Manuel Coursin, Eric Yvelin

Production : Alexandra Wellensiek

Production assistant: Sarah Blumenfeld

Translations: Guillaume Cailleau , Sabine Macher, William Wheeler,

Subtitle and Video Calibration : Guillaume Cailleau

Thank you to: Angela Anderson, Lindy Annis, Bettina von Arnim, ausland, Ulrich Baehr, Silke Bake, Carola Caggiano, Uli Ertl, Walton Ford, Elisabeth Freeman, Ulrike Melzwig, Wolfgang Müller, Conrad Noack, François Noudelman, Alain Roux, Pauline Schroeder-Baehr, Marlène Shaw, Christiane & Arnulf Spengler Gertrude Stein.

Additional thanks to Beursschouburg, Brussels.

Presentation: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Beursschouwburg

Production: make up productions (Berlin)

Co-production: Centre chorégraphique national de Montpellier Languedoc Roussillon – in the framework of the project Jardin d’Europe, with support of the European Commission and ]domaines[ (Montpellier), HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), PACT Zollverein (Essen), steirischer herbst (Graz), Tanzquartier (Vienna).

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