27th June, 2018
On 29th May this year, I only had 25 minutes to look at ANOHNI’s Miracle Now exhibition before I had to catch my train to the airport. The assistant kindly let me off the £7 entrance fee as they had not finished adjusting their projectors.
Curator: Juliana Engberg
The venue was a former church, indeed there were enormous signs stating “This is NOT a church” – it seemed a little over-stated to me but the exhibition title could, it could be argued, have led people to believe this was a religious treatise.
Two good points about the setting: it was a very central location so easily accessible on foot (like everything else in the city) and it had the space on which to project vast images and films, as well as space to put other art work. One negative aspect was that it was a very dark, cavernous space. Perhaps the flip side of that idea is that it is very womb-like and so relevant to the topic of terrestrial/mankind regeneration.
Examples of the work:
Highlights of the exhibition:
I wasn’t aware of the intricacies of the forethought / background to this project so it has taken me a while to put my own thoughts together about it.
Anohni is deeply involved in the effects of the anthropocene age on the world: the rapid extinction of many species, fossil-fuelled mechanisation and urbanisation in particular.
She also dwells on the mind-body dichotomy which privileges intellect over intuition and which sees nature as merely matter to fuel a modernist, machine life. Her work is informed by the split between geosophical (earth centred ) and theosophical (God centred) awareness.
What further interests me at this point in my artistic development is her fascination with lines. To Anohni, a line has a life of its own & she states “I try to listen to a line like I’m almost asleep. Am I watching her, or have I become her? Sometimes a line emerges from within itself, like a ruptured vein. I just try to keep listening. A line is energy, a cut in the sky, a hole through which manifestation pours.”(Interview with Anohni)
Anohni’s aim is “to evolve, experience and perform the cycles of growth that emerge from meditating on all that connects. Her quest is to bring attention to the plight of the environment, to find a language, both visual and performed, to make a space for transformation and understanding.”(Interview)
Although I did not have time to reflect on the work in situ, I can see how those works that I do remember seeing relate to her philosophy and to the title of the exhibition. Much of this work was part of her 1995 exhibition, and the message is as relevant as ever.
What I took away with me about the work:
The films shown looked like they had been made in the last century as evidenced in the degraded quality of the film, the jittery presentation and the strong AIDS theme. The sombre theme did not result in a sombre production, however, and that brought me in as a viewer more positively, in my opinion.
There were newspaper articles from the 1980’s about the incidence of AIDS
What I took away with me about me / my work:
I did not see any relationship between me and the work at the time because I had not had the time to research the work beforehand. What I have taken away since reading up on the artist and her work is how relevant the focus on lines is to my current experiments with fault lines in rocks and rock formations.
I have posted my experiments on Facebook and I was very excited when fellow student Gesa Helms pointed out an exhibition at the Tate Modern by Doris Salcedo, ” Shibboleth 1″ (2007) which had inspired her work. The original use of the term shibboleth is about separation and exclusion which is where my prisons and prisoner identity theme comes in. Salcedo underpinned her work by the following statement:
“an attempt to address the section of humankind that has been left out of the history of modernity, and kept at the margin of high Western culture … I simply want to address this issue from the perspective of art, analysing the role art played in the formation of the stereotype of human beauty.”
(Salcedo in Tate Modern 2007, one-page insert between pp.64 and 65.)
In Tate’s book The Unilever Series 2000–2012, the installation is described as a reflection on geographical divisions that were significant locally and globally:
It was a fault-line that could be read in the local context (dividing the old industrial half of the building from the museum; London’s economically deprived south from its salubrious northern counterpart) as much as on a global scale (the division between the economic Northern and Southern hemispheres).
(Stephenson 2012, unpaginated.)
The concept of the line has, therefore, become even more important to my work in my mind and I shall be following it up in relation to my exhibition next year.