Portraits of affinities in animal metaphors

Following the example of her solo LAUGH, Antonia Baehr has, for a second and last time, invited her friends to write compositions for her. This time she proposed that they write short pieces for an ABC of extinct animals: D for dodo, T for the Tasmanian tiger … Each author was asked to identify their affinity with an extinct animal of their choice. Their scores had to reflect their friendship with the choreographer metaphorically.

A dozen stations are positioned in the space. Letters of the alphabet are glued to the floor. Antonia Baehr invites us to follow her from station to station, from D to Y, from F to N… The floor is empty and white at the center. The authors/friends are absent. The animals, inadequate and ineffective at maintaining the survival of their species, have disappeared. We can only imagine or invoke their presence. The ingredients of the „Abecedarium Bestiarium“ could make us feel melancholic; however, the Berliner Baehr—pronounced “bear” in German—gives herself generously over to the authors’ different modes of expression, and presents a selection of miniatures in heterogeneous styles and moods.

From the double-portraits of zoological physiognomy by Giambattista della Porta to the zoomorphic caricatures of Grandville, from the bestiaries of the Middle Ages to animal drag, from animal alphabet primers to the naturalist watercolors of Walton Ford—genres of animal representation, symbolic or metaphorical, have a long history. The correspondences found therein are disturbing; they undermine categories such as animal and human, man and woman, past and present, dead and alive. They open the door to mad affinities and disaffinities.

– Gertrude Ferrant, March 19, 2013

(…) 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

Baehr’s works are detailed cartographies of forces of normativization and of forces of invention.

– André Lepecki

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).

Coproduction, et résidence, Les Subsistances, 2012.

This project is co-produced by NXTSTP, with support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

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