Annika Kahrs is engaging immersively with the varied realities of Oullins, a town made up of districts that are geographically distant from each other or simply feel far apart because of the historical, social or psychological boundaries that separate them. She has chosen to investigate this situation through the people who wish to assist with her discovery process; and, more specifically, by taking as her starting-point their personal relationship with music and sound, in order to identify the latter’s role and meaning within their family, their circle of friends, and possibly in specific communities. This musical springboard follows naturally on from Kahrs’ own research into the medium of sound, which always prompts her to beckon new contributors into her creative processes.

While the work of Annika Kahrs chiefly involves film and performance, as well as photography for keeping a trace of her exhibited formats, her pieces are most often conveyed by the presence of music, which is treated pictorially or as a soundtrack-in-images. Music is the pretext for observing ideas of representation and interpretation, as well as social and scientific constructs and the relationships between humans and the other forms of life we live alongside. Her artworks sit between documentary and a quasi-choreographed directorial approach, where the artist can sometimes be glimpsed among all the people she enlists to co-write and inhabit her poetic enquiries and experiments.

As part of her project at Saint-Bernard church in Lyon, which will be presented under the “manifesto of fragility” banner at the 16th Lyon Biennale, Annika Kahrs wishes to work with anyone in Oullins who makes or listens to music – professional or amateur, in public or private, all ages, all social and geographical backgrounds. They are invited to render their artistic community and each person’s creations audible and visible. The idea is for the artist and her collaborators – after working together on the production of Kahrs’ artwork, and building a relationship – to develop a sound piece that comprises recordings of soundscapes, musical creations and lyrics in the various districts of Oullins. This exploration, through music and its effects (on its creators and listeners in their everyday lives), will yield a walkabout-based performance created by and with the residents: the participants and accompanying walkers will be invited to discover places that are social focal points or relate to communities who, generally speaking, are not easily accessible. Here, music-making and -listening will serve as vehicles for collective creation, for identifying individuals with communities, but also for weaving a social fabric. At the end of the musical score and its associated walkabout, it will perhaps be possible to sense how a district is also created by its past and present communities, and, above all, to hear the transformative potential of residents’ voices as they move around and are transported by emotion.

Photo: Annika Kahrs with her team and performers during the production of her piece NO LONGER NOT YET © Alexander Trattler