»Intimate contact with the dead benefits the living. Their presence (...) offers comfort, sometimes even signs and communication.« Alexa Hagerty

As ghost from the past and ghosts of the future, the dancers Johanna Ackva, Nagao Akemi and the musician Evelyn Saylor convene with their grandmothers Takako, Elisabeth and Virginia in an intimate trans-temporal encounter. In search of a connecting language between the living and the dead, gestures and movements form like words or sentences whose meanings inevitably remain in the twilight. Sound and movement both work with pauses, with moments of apparent emptiness, of listening towards possible messages, making space for Takako, Elisabeth and Virginia to appear.

As a gathering, ritual and performance, Grandmothers insists on an expressive mode that needs no explanation, on the relevance of an uttering that is not completed in the goal of reaching understanding. Interest thereby is directed towards the different agencies involved, claiming that there is no need to prove whether the dead can “really” communicate win order to observe means and effects. Thus, the work invites its public to witness deliberate strategies of approaching life as intertwined with its so-called opposite death, and our world – often said to be disenchanted – as animated by ghosts of all kinds.

Dance: Nagao Akemi, Johanna Ackva | Music: Evelyn Saylor | Light: Susana Alonso | Thanks to: Björn Pätz, Joshua Wicke, Maxie Schreiner | Photos: Anna Agliardi

Grandmothers was presented at Ballhaus Ost, Berlin in the frame of the Dirty Debüt series’ 9th edition themed After Life.

»It was a detour into the essential and the introspective, as the desert often is, and they were lost in it.« – Rebecca Solnit

Inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s essay »A field guide to getting lost« and Gus Van Sant’s movie »Gerry« in which two friends get lost in the North American desert, we explore notions of being lost, while traveling through internal imagery of vast desert landscapes. Our encounters with the solitude of wilderness oscillate between pleasurable experiences of freedom, the loss of orientation and nearness of death.

Salt Lake is a hike through unknown terrain, within and outside of ourselves, and a search for the essential.

Ihre Körper liegen wie hingeworfen, zwei Steine neben ihnen, wir befinden uns in der Wüste Nevadas, es ist heiß und trocken. Irgendwann setzen sie sich in Bewegung, stark verlangsamt. Sorgfältige Drehungen über die Seiten, bis der Oberkörper vertikal nach oben zeigt, (…) eine Hand auf die Schläfe gelegt, die das Auge bedeckt, um sich behände umzuschauen. Ihre Blicke wandern durch die Zuschauer*innen-Reihen: Was bleibt noch zu tun? Zu sagen? Verlorene Körper (…) Langsam drehen sie sich um sich selbst, drehen sich synchron in eine Spirale, die Beine verknoten sich sehr bedacht. In wackligen Standwagen (ein Vogel!) zittern sie um ihren Platz in dieser Welt. Nach und nach wird klar, dass sie sich wohl verlaufen haben und der Einzug der Sprache weckt uns alle aus einem meditativen Taumel, der sich zuvor dem Unbekannten hingegeben hat. „Have we seen a bird in the sky?“

(Alexandra Henning and Johanna Withelm, article for ada Studio)

Choreography, performance: Johanna Ackva, Philipp Enders | Music: The Clarinets, Elizabeth Cotten | Light: Ansgar Tappert | Production and Support: Gabi Baier (ada Studio) | Thanks to: Camille Ulrich, Magdalena Meindl and Lee Meir | Photos © Johanna Ackva, Philipp Enders.

Salt Lake was presented on the and of 2018 in the frame of NAH DRAN landscaping, curated by Lee Meir. A research presentation combining music and sounds, spoken word and a compilation of moving images, all orbiting around the themes of happened in February 2018 at Passenger Espresso in the frame of the series CLOSE LISTENINGS, organized by Johanna Ackva and Cecile Kobel.