Artist and theatre-maker Danai Anesiadou was invited to put on a performance at the recent Berlin Biennial. The following is her report.
In the short guide of the night event series of the 5th Berlin Biennial, Mes nuits sont plus belles que vos jours, I announced my performance as following: A Night of Psicomagia, 15.05.2008, 20:00 - 22:00
‘A Master, an Apprentice, an Initiation and some shiny, metallic invisible helpers. I once read about a female artist who was tormented by the seemingly paradoxical desires of making art and making money: ‘Money is male. Money is phallic,’ Alejandro Jodorowsky told her, ‘you need to discover your kind of money. The good money is creativity.’ The Chilean filmmaker and Tarot card reader Jodorowsky recommended that the woman insert ‘seven pieces of gold’ into her vagina while painting. I hope I will not have to show my vagina on May 15, 2008. My name is Danai Anesiadou. Before the night of my performance, I will have made several failed attempts and have finally, successfully, met the Great Master, Alejandro Jodorowsky. During one of his weekly Tarot sessions, in which a select few can come to him with a question, I’ll ask: ‘WHAT ABOUT ME AND ART?’ In response, he will give me a task and this will be the seed for a psychomagical ritual performed by me, you — the public — and either the spirit or the flesh of Jodorowsky (if he accepts my invitation to attend).’
Danai comes out of the screen, casually looks at the audience, Otobong hands out a transparent sequins cape on hanger to Danai. Danai goes towards her mom in the audience and covers mother’s head and body with cape, and whispers something in her ear. Danai sits her mom on ‘mom chair’, and stands behind her mom while caressing her mother’s hair and starts talking about her experience with Jodorowsky to MIC 2.
How to write down a performance for a reader? Impossible. The idea was to do a photo shoot after the performance because I didn’t want a photographer to ruin the moment with weird sounds. The photo shoot never happened. I was in state of trance, receiving congratulations while cleaning up because that’s what happens after a performance, one has to clean up the mess unless one is Maria Callas. So, no photos. And then there was my mother I had to take care of.
The first time I went to visit Alejandro Jodorowsky. it was in February. A failed attempt, I misunderstood the hour. A series of events lead to this first failed meeting. In one month time, my wallet got stolen, my car got pulled away in front of my eyes by some mean tow truck, my toilet got plugged, they had shut down the electricity in my apartment, I was in conflict with some of my friends, excruciating acid reflux made doctors think I needed surgery, I had artistic problems. The elements were not in my favor, I was not feeling well. A friend of mine named me The Reversed Midas, instead of gold, my touch would turn things into…Also, I hadn’t kissed a boy for a year.
I was in Greece and I just had to buy one of those evil eye necklaces. I was desperate.
‘When a person suffers from the evil eye, he says, "I was given the eye”. To cure this an unbroken egg is passed over his face. Afterwards, the egg is broken in a saucer, and it is placed under the bed.’
I don’t like the smell of egg yolk, the evil eye necklace was not helping and I don’t believe in psychoanalysis so I wanted, needed to meet Alejandro Jodorowsky. “You are excrement, you have to turn yourself into gold” says the alchemist in “ The Holy Mountain”.
I went back to the cafe in Paris where he gives weekly tarot readings and got picked out of a lottery. My number was seven.
The deal is, I saw Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain some 3 years ago on my little macbook and it blew my mind away. I had no idea what to expect. After googling him and some you tube I was reminded what I’d forgotten for a long time, why I got into art in the first place. Once I was younger and had this idealist concept that art should transform the viewer, like Orthodox Icons are supposed to do. Icons are sacred works of art that provide inspiration and connect the painter and the worshipper with the spiritual world. Old school. Yes.
Through his films and via the internet I got interested in the idea of psicomagia. ‘Psychomagic’ aims to heal the psychological wounds suffered in the early stages of life. This therapy is based on the belief that the ‘performance’ of certain outside acts given by a psychomagician can directly act upon the unconscious mind, releasing it from a series of traumas, some of which are passed down from generation to generation.
Danai starts taking off her pants and shoes while saying: ‘He then gave me psicomagia. He told me to wear my mother’s clothes, “dress up like your mother, wear a mask of her face and go to a public space dressed up like your mom and look at men through her eyes, and see what happens”. Then I had to take out the mask and look at men through my eyes and see what happens. I should burry the mask in the ground and plant a flower over it. “But don’t forget to give your mother a box of chocolates, because you don’t want to feel guilty.”’
I had art issues, this was going to be an art project. I tried to get out but he pulled me back in...to love. ‘This is synchronicity’ I thought. My mother was also in the audience. She had no idea about my wicked plan. I was in doubt. Should I tell her beforehand and spoil her trip to Berlin? She would have been plagued by fantasies and I didn’t want to ruin her Berlin shopping spree. After the performance people kept asking me: ‘Is your mother ok?’
Why making such a private thing public? Why did I have to make a public performance out of this task that had to be a personal theatre? I don’t know. No, I think I do know. I guess I didn’t feel like entertaining the public. I guess I wanted to make the audience accomplice of something that was preoccupying me, my professional and emotional life. People do have personal problems. We all have problems. Some kind of baptism or exorcism it had to be. And there is always an audience. Why do people marry in the presence of others?
This ‘art-cure’ will be never reproduced as it was on May 15 2008 in Berlin. You don’t screw out the same limb twice.
About Alejandro Jodorowsky, this is a man when asked about being an artist replied: ‘Sometimes I make wonderful invisible little sculptures with my snot, pornographic sculptures and then I masturbate, seeing the little figures. I have a whole kamasutra in snot.’
Six days later I finally kissed a boy.