Johnny and Other Stories

On Saturday November 12 at the Minoritenkloster in Graz, Barbara performs a selection of “Slices of Life,” multimedia compositions incorporating our community’s voices. The “slices” featured in this concert are “Johnny,” “The Shirt,” “I Am a Priest,” and “Korean Lullaby.”

When community member Susanne Wosnitzka submitted her #GYHAFY, “Johnny” to us in the spring, she wrote about a 1920s woman who was inspired by a unique Parisian artist community, the famous women of the left bank. Lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual women such as authors Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, photographers Berenice Abbott and Gisele Freund, and booksellers like Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier shaped the cultural life of Paris. Susanne chose an alternate gender for her fictional character quite deliberately. Johnny is an unusual woman, denoting her gender as “poet.” This fictional autobiography provided a fantastic foundation for a multimedia composition in which Johnny’s biographical details are examined in a sort of interview over a disrupted romantic soundtrack. The result tells us about Susanne’s imagined identity and brings it to life.

Stories like “Johnny” – a story that has become one of the “slices of life” depicted in the final artwork of What if?, show us that expressing your identity can take many forms, whether these are your biographical details or aspects expressed through your imagination, a photograph or a even a composition. These forms develop as we integrate different members’ thoughts and creative impulses into the overall artwork. Each slice of life reflects single community members in different ways.

A completely different slice, “Korean Lullaby,” is based on two different parts of the What if? project in which community member Gloria Guns participated. The first, her submission to the #WhatIfDrone call for entries entitled “Fan Death,” is used as a foundation for this composition. Gloria sang a traditional Korean lullaby as a part of her track, and this element is heavily emphasized. Over this Barbara reads the text that Gloria chose to include in the visual aspect of her personalized Read me installation, lyrics talking about feelings of isolation and of being different. This is complemented by snatches of Dido’s Farewell, a Baroque opera that weaves in and out around the other sounds.

“I Am a Priest” is based on an interview Barbara did with Louis Aguirre, a Cuban composer whose religion of Santería forms the basis to his personal identity. In this religion, every practitioner is also a priest, and this “slice” expresses that. Barbara performed Louis’ composition “Toque a eshu y ochosi” (2013) for a singing violinist at Ultraschall festival in Berlin in 2016, along with “The Shirt.”

“The Shirt” is based on a story of an anonymous author with some visuals by Barbara’s student Katarina Michelitsch. This particular “slice” tells us a humorous story about assuming others’ identities, “The Shirt” is a slice that reflects some of the original artistic motivations behind the project and examines questions of who we are and who we want to be.

Barbara’s concert takes place at the Minoritenkloster in Graz, Im Cubus, at 20:00. The first 20 minutes of the overall artwork “Slices of Life” will be premiered at this event. Click here for a link to the event in German language.

Featured image: A collage from an archive photo and a photography by Sabina Ulubeanu.

There are 2 comments

  1. kabuffproduktion’!!! Thank you for your brillant text about the combination of my “Johnny” and Barbara’s “Johnny” – thanks to Barbara for creating this STUNNING work! meltmeltmelt!

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