Salon Anna Okrasko

1 Mai 2013
Memhardstraße 8, Berlin, Germany

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The Salon was held under the subject of ‚autobiographical monologue/performance/narration.‘
Anna had planned her Salon long in advance and she had many ideas who to invite as speakers,so that we had to shorten the program in the end to a decent time frame. The Salon took place in an apartment at Alexanderplatz from 1pm until 6pm. Anna had made a nice little leaflet for all participants with the program and transcriptions of interviews that she had made in the past months and that related to the topic. Wendelien van Oldenborgh, our former resident, who made a film about two women from different social backgrounds that talked about her biography.Giles Bailey, who also took part in the Berlin Biennale that year, presented Spaldings Grey´s film
‚Swimming to Cambodia‘ and held a talk on it. The author Sarah Khan presented her recent book
on Berlin Ghost Stories.
Anna had also prepared an own piece that was very impressive. Based on an interview that she had held with a young Israeli woman living in Berlin that thought she was the incarnation of a German soldier from World War II. An actress spoke the voice of the Israeli woman while Anna was asking the questions. This performance had a real ghost like impression.
I would like to invite you to become an audience-participant in the ABA Salon, concerning intersection of Biography and Performance. Together with you and our special guests: Giles Bailey, Sarah Khan, and Wendelien van Oldenborgh, I would like to reflect on the different examples from film, visual art and literature, where autobiographical speech conveys its historical and political context.

Invitation letter for ABA Salon
I am happy to announce that during the ABA Salon, Wendelien van Oldenborgh will introduce and screen her video Bete & Deise (2012), Giles Bailey will elaborate on the Jonathan Demme/Spalding Gray performance film: Swimming to Cambodia (1987), and Sarah Khan will present research about Berlin ghost stories, which she gathered in a book Die Gespenster von Berlin: Unheimliche Geschichten (2009). Moreover, using the body and voice of Cornelia Fleck, I will introduce a personal story of Lisa, which has haunted my research during my artist-in-residence in ABA Berlin.

Short biographies of the presenters:

Giles Bailey

Sarah Khan was born in 1971 and grew up in Hamburg in between the rectory of her German Protestant grandparents and the traditions of her father, a carpet dealer from Lahore, Pakistan. She studied folklore and German literature, and published three novels between 1999 and 2004: Gogo-Girl (1999), Dein Film (2001), and Eine romantische Maßnahme (2004). Her most recent book, Die Gespenster von Berlin. Unheimliche Geschichten (2009), is a collection of contemporary stories about ghosts and hauntings.  (find an english translation of one story here:
Sarah Khan lives in Berlin and regularly publishes articles and essays. In October 2012 Khan won the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Michael-Althen-Preis für Kritik for an essay about the TV series House. Find her online

Wendelien van Oldenborgh is an artist based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She received her art education at Goldmiths‘ College, London during the eighties and lives in the Netherlands again since 2004. Her practice explores social relations through an investigation of gesture in the public sphere. Van Oldenborgh often uses the format of a public film shoot, collaborating with participants in different scenarios, to co-produce a script and orientate the work towards its final outcome, which can be film, or other forms of projection. The double screen installation La Javanaise (2012) was shown at the Berlinale Forum Expanded 2013,  Bete & Deise (2012) premiered in the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Supposing I love you. And you also love me (2011) was first shown in the Danish Pavilion of the Venice Biennial 2011, Pertinho de Alphaville (2010) at the 29th São Paulo Biennial 2010. Van Oldenborgh has also participated in the 4rth Moscow Biennial 2011, the 11th Istanbul Biennial 2009, at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Images festival Toronto 2010 where she received the Marian McMahon Award. She has exhibited widely, including at the Generali Foundation, Vienna, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museum Sztuki Lodz,  Van Abbemusem Eindhoven, Muhka Antwerp. She was awarded the Hendrik Chabot Prize 2011 from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, the Netherlands. Wendelien van Oldenborgh is represented by Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam.

Short biographies of the performers:

Spalding Rockwell Gray (June 5, 1941 – ca. January 11, 2004) was an American actor and writer. He was primarily known for the autobiographical monologues that he wrote and performed for the theater in the 1980s and 1990s. Gray achieved celebrity status for his monologue Swimming to Cambodia which was adapted into a film in 1987 by the filmmaker Jonathan Demme.

Cornelia Fleck (1971) is an actress and acting coach. She was trained in the Spielstatt Ulm and in several other places in Europe and lives and works since 2000 in Berlin as a freelancer. For many years she worked with musicians and bands and is a founding member of the pop theatre group „Mädchenzimmer“. In the recent years she concentrated more and more on the field of speaking and Voice acting as a writer, actor, director and trainer in audio plays and audio features. At the moment she also studies performance studies at the FU Berlin. More information at:

Bete Mendes (1949) has continued to maintain a political career alongside her acting career in popular television since the 1960s. Mendes was involved in the armed resistance group of the student movement against the dictatorship, and was part of the labour movement in the 1970s, co-founding the working party Partido dos Trabalhadores at the close of the decade. Up until today she has fulfilled several public functions whilst at the same time remaining active as a telenovela actress, known for her appearances in Beto Rockfeller (1967); O Rebu (1974); O Rei do Gado (1996); Caras e Bocas (2009) and many others.

Deise Tigrona (1979) is one of the most powerful voices in the Funk Carioca movement today. Growing up and performing as a singer in the impoverished community of Cidade de Deus, she rose to great international popularity with her music in 2005. The public life that came with fame made it difficult to concentrate on family life, and led to the decision to take a step back from her music career and return to a job closer to home. She has recently started performing again.

Ciaran Walsh, Judy Radul, Laura Schleusner,
Benjamin Deboorse, Elisabeth Mohr, Wendelien
van Oldenborgh, Sarah Khan, Giles Bailey,
Cornelia Fleck, Fanny Courtillot, Pablo
Pijnapple, Pilvi Takala Martijn in‘t Veld, Juan Luis Mielgo Castellanos,
Aleksander Nowacki, Steffen Klaue, Lena Prents, Alexander Komarov, Susanne
Kriemann, Ilka Tödt