Theatre without narrative (for the Kiel Open Studios 2020)
Himmelsleiter(für eine nicht-stattfindende Parade), 2020. Installation with Silk Paper, Drawing Paper, Acrylic Paint, Charcoal, Chalk Pastell and Wood. 800 x 270cm

All Photos by Svetlana Grigorieva @bonnie_flash

Conception for the Parade was recorded at Studio 1, at the Atelierhaus im Anscharpark, in Kiel. Over the course of the weekend of September 26th and 27th, 2020, visitors were invited to create scenes using props against a large backdrop. These were photographed and instagrammed- the posts will be archived when the project enters its next phase.

The backdrop is structured by a nod to Jeanne d’Arc écoutant les voix (1876) by Eugène Thirion- a title which leaves room for the consideration of Joan of Arc’s possible mental illness- which is not only a religious depiction Joan of Arc being visited by the Archangel Gabriel, but contains bitter political undertones arising out of French territorial cessions to Germany after the Franco-Prussian war (called Revanchisme). 

Nadia Huggins’ male nymphs in ‘Circa No Future‘ with all the violence and vulnerability associated with black bodies in the roiling Caribbean Sea, serve as cherubs, helping to adorn and frame the figure which places itself at the centre of the composition. They push against and are absorbed by the intense pigmentation threatening to engulf the picture’s entire frame. 

Irritating in its positioning, yet attempting harmony with its twin golden arches, is a yellow rescue ladder which echoes those placed along the Kiellinie (a long paved strip along the Fjord, stretching from Kiel’s military harbour to the remains of its old city). These were painted brightly after black ice sent a car and its occupant flying into freezing January waters. Ironically, they now provide easy access to the warm, dark waters on summer nights, and the ladders are lately used by anglers who wade into the water and stand patiently, easily, in pairs in the dark.

The name of this preliminary part of the process- the backdrop- plays with the name Kiellinie, which was once called the Hindenburgufer. Himmelsleiter translates quite un-prettily to ‘Ladder to Heaven’, so even though it invokes yet another perpetrator in Germany’s violent past, I will leave it in its original German. The circle which plays as a halo, as well as the almost hidden Queen Conch shell, with its enigma that spirals both inward and outward, are there to help renege questions of identity and ‘Hintergrund’ (origins, usually meant to mean racial background) in the presentation of the main figure.

Looking back with bitterness, forward with despair and inverting rescue and leisure, the parade awaits its players. 

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