The Kitchen Presents Exhibition And Performances By ANOHNI
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. On May 16, ANOHNI will be honored alongside sculptor Robert Gober at The Kitchen's Spring 2019 Gala.
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." A special benefit performance of the work followed by a reception and toast with the artist and cast in the gallery exhibition will take place on Sunday, April 21.
The exhibition will take place April 4-May 11 at The Kitchen, with an opening on April 3, 6-8pm, 512 W 19th St, New York. Performances will take place on April 19-20 and 22 at 8pm. A special benefit performance and reception with toast on April 21 begins at 6pm. Both exhibition and performances are curated by Tim Griffin, Matthew Lyons, and Nicole Kaack. Tickets for regular performances ($35 general; $30 members) and benefit ($150) are available online at thekitchen.org; by phone at 212.255.5793 x11; and in person at The Kitchen, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 2:00-6:00pm.
Also available for purchase is 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. See thekitchen.org for more information.
ANOHNI is an English-born singer, composer, and visual artist. Born in Chichester, England, ANOHNI spent her teenage years in California. A few years after arriving in New York in the early 1990s, ANOHNI, along with friends Johanna Constantine and Scott Jackson (Psychotic Eve), created a night at The Pyramid called the Blacklips Performance Cult that put on weekly midnight shows on Mondays from 1992 to 1995. As Blacklips ended, ANOHNI formed a New Group called The Johnsons with Constantine and Dr. Julia Yasuda which produced a number of plays both within and outside the club environment, while she also began honing her musical vision and band for which she would soon become famous. The ensemble of ANOHNI and musicians performed for the first time as "Antony and The Johnsons" at The Kitchen as part of William Basinski's installation "Life on Mars" in 1997. Antony and The Johnsons's self-titled first album was released in 2000 on David Tibet's label Durtro. Their second album, I Am a Bird Now (2005), earned ANOHNI the Mercury Music Prize. In 2016, ANOHNI became the second openly transgender person nominated for an Academy Award; she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, along with J. Ralph, for the song "Manta Ray" in the film Racing Extinction. Her debut solo album, HOPELESSNESS, was released in 2016 to wide critical acclaim, including another nomination for the Mercury Music Prize and a Brit Award.
For the past decade, ANOHNI has begun to exhibit a body of visual art that includes collages, drawings, and sculptural works, with exhibitions at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Sikkema Jenkins in New York, and Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen. Collaborating with Johanna Constantine, Kembra Pfahler, and Bianca and Sierra Casady, ANOHNI co-presented the exhibition and performance series FUTURE FEMINISM at The Hole, NYC in 2014. In 2016, ANOHNI presented "My Truth" at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld in Germany, the largest exhibition of her work to date, alongside work by Peter Hujar, Kazuo Ohno, and James Elaine. She was artist-in-residence at the 2017 European Capital of Culture-Aarhus, Denmark, where she presented the FUTURE FEMINISM project including 25 lectures, performances, and workshops.
About Dr. Julia Yasuda
Julia Yasuda (b. Yutaka Yasuda) was born in Manchukuo, Japanese-occupied Manchuria, on January 20, 1943. In 1959, Julia began assisting in the Radio Engineering Department of the Musashi Institute of Technology. She went on to earn a Doctor of Sciences from Nagoya University for her contributions to descriptive set theory and began teaching as professor of mathematics at University of Tokyo. In the late 1970s, Julia met artist Erika Yasuda in an S&M bar in Tokyo and began modeling for Erika's surreal, androgynous photo portraits. After Erika suddenly passed away in 1987 from cancer, Julia self-published a limited edition catalogue of Erika's photos called Who Saw Beautiful Things. Heartbroken, Julia relocated to NYC, began working for the American Mathematical Society and the Association for Symbolic Logic, changed her name to Julia, and pursued gender reassignment. Julia Yasuda met ANOHNI in the mid-90s and soon began to appear as a central presence in all of ANOHNI's performances and plays, including MIRACLE NOW (1996), WOMB (1996), Father (1998), and LOVE (1998/1999); Julia regularly introduced Antony and The Johnsons with a greeting and a poem or a message in Morse code. Julia also starred in Rosa Von Praunheim's documentary Transexual Menace (1996) and produced the transfeminist punk band Transisters. Julia was naturalized as an American citizen in 1999. In 2004 Julia retired for a period to live in Fire Island, working on set theory and connecting to people all over the world via ham radio. She continued to work occasionally with ANOHNI and as a model for photographer Alice O'Malley. In 2016, Julia starred in ANOHNI's HOPELESSNESS video. Dr. Julia Yasuda took her own life after a long struggle with chronic pain and increasing immobility on July 23, 2018 at the age of 75.