Antonia Baehr (DE)
Portraits of affinities in animal metaphors
It may seem obvious to consider the startling resemblances, the disturbing correspondences between animals and humans if your surname happens to be Baehr and you happen to be born in “Ber-lin” – official heraldic animal: brown bear, unofficial heraldic animal: Knut the polar bear. Do these similarities mean something? Like signs of the zodiac can mean something, even if we do not believe in them. If it comes to that, from where does our deep interest come in the anthropomorphic depiction of animals in art and literature, in baroque drawings and copperplate engravings, in animal fables? Or the delight in their symbolic interpretation, as in mediaeval bestiaries?
In her alphabet of affinities, Antonia Baehr is interested not in fathoming a mystery possibly concealed behind these similarities, but rather in the realm of fantasy, projections and coincidence that may be demonstrated by them. Similar to her solo “Laugh”, that was a resounding success at steirischer herbst in 2009, Antonia Baehr has once again invited artist friends to write compositions for her. This time she has asked them to choose an extinct animal with which they feel an affinity and to bring it back to life by means of scores which have to reflect their friendship with the choreographer metaphorically.
In Baehr’s evocative “Abecedarium Bestiarium”, D, for example, stands for the dodo, beautiful but flightless and last sighted in the Indian Ocean in the 17th century. S stands for the peace-loving Steller’s sea cow, the last specimen of which was beaten to death near Bering Island in 1768. “The correspondences found therein are disturbing; they undermine categories such as human and animal, man and woman, past and present, dead and alive. They open the door to mad affinities.“ (Gertrude Ferrant)
herbst remixed. Video impressions of the project.
Antonia Baehr "Lachen", steirischer herbst 2009.
Concept, production and performance Antonia Baehr
With compositions by Frédéric 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 et al.
Artistic collaboration Valérie Castan
Light design Sylvie Garot
Sound Manuel Coursin & Eric Yvelin