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ANOHNI art exhibition and theatrical piece coming to The Kitchen

Image: video still of ANOHNI and Julia Yasuda in 'Our Dreams Are Yoar Dreams'
Image: video still of ANOHNI and Julia Yasuda in ‘Our Dreams Are Yoar Dreams’

ANOHNI is being honored at The Kitchen’s 2019 Spring Gala Benefit on May 16, but there are two other related ANOHNI events happening there before that. The first is an exhibition called ‘LOVE’ which will be up from April 3 – May 11 in The Kitchen Gallery and features “new works in drawing and sculpture, and archival materials by ANOHNI and includes photos by Erika Yasuda portraying ANOHNI’s decades-long collaborator and friend Dr. Julia Yasuda.” The exhibition is free to attend and the Gallery is open Tuesday–Saturday, 11–6 PM.

The second is an ambitious theatre piece titled  “The Johnsons Present LOVE” which will be performed April 19-22 which builds “on the work of The Johnsons and Blacklips Performance Cult, two performance groups that ANOHNI founded in the 1990s.” The production features past collaborators and members of those groups including Charles Atlas, Matteah Baim, Michael Cavadias, Tom Cole, Johanna Constantine, Eliza Douglas, Scott Jackson, Connie Fleming, Lorraine O’Grady, Lola Naisse, Kembra Pfahler, Marti Wilkerson, and Colin Whitaker. ANOHNI wrote and directed the theater piece, but her onstage involvement with the performances is currently unclear. Tickets will be on sale soon.

Also available at The Kitchen will be ANOHNI’s She Who Saw Beautiful Things, a “hardcover, limited-edition artist’s book featuring photographs by Erika Yasuda overlaid with drawings by ANOHNI and containing a history of Dr. Julia Yasuda’s never-before released work.”

More information about both the ‘LOVE’ exhibition and theatrical performances is below:

The Kitchen presents an expansive new project from ANOHNI, beginning with LOVE, an exhibition of new works in painting and drawing, photography, sculpture, and archival video revolving in part around the figure of Antony and the Johnsons’ late member Julia Yasuda; as well as an ambitious new theater piece, The Johnsons Present LOVE, building on the work of The Johnsons and Blacklips Performance Cult, two performance groups that ANOHNI founded in the 1990s. As in the exhibition, these performances will be composed of new work in addition to material from previous decades, featuring an incredible cast of artists, actors, and performers both familiar with and new to these writings: Charles Atlas, Matteah Baim, Michael Cavadias, Tom Cole, Johanna Constantine, Eliza Douglas, Scott Jackson, Connie Fleming, Lorraine O’Grady, Lola Naisse, Kembra Pfahler, Marti Wilkerson, and Colin Whitaker.

Throughout her career, ANOHNI has worked across many mediums in a manner that is more legible today within an increasingly interdisciplinary contemporary artistic context. This very proximity and distance from images and objects—as well as their reanimation—is a premise for the exhibition. As ANOHNI observes, “The pieces in this exhibition use different applications to express a single point of view, including an embrace of performance that for many years was married to my musical output. So much of this work is animist and dealing with ghosts, the living and the dead, with different presences ricocheting among the moments and objects, offering an opportunity to make more intuitive connections between histories, gestures, colors, cataclysms, and ideas.”

In part a memorial dedicated to Yasuda—a longtime collaborator and frequent protagonist in ANOHNI’s plays with The Johnsons—the exhibition summons influences from Kazuo Ohno and Jack Smith to Marsha P. Johnson (after whom The Johnsons were named). More broadly, however, this constellation of artwork underscores correlations between crises past and present, inhaling the AIDS epidemic and exhaling the ecological disaster currently unfolding. “We face grave uncertainty about the existence of a future,” ANOHNI says. “Can we reorganize our compulsion to cut the throat of nature? I keep asking myself, ‘What Is Really Happening?’ The same illness infecting the biosphere has grown around the systems that support my own contemporary life, and a bloom of hopelessness opened up in me. I think about holding space for vanishing, of people, of communities, of biodiversity, in a way that opens into spectral time, leaking all points at once.”

This aspiration for contemporary imagination inspires ANOHNI’s theater piece, titled The Johnsons Present LOVE, which hearkens to The Johnsons and Blacklips performances—once described as a mix of surrealism, vaudeville, Butoh, and Living Theater-esque abstraction, which took place during the 1990s—and tells the story, according to ANOHNI, of a “hermaphrodite searching for her parents in an apocalyptic landscape.”

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