For her latest performance “On Anger”, Anna Konjetzky has created a manifesto on female anger
Audre Lorde, Greta Thunberg, Simone de Beauvoir, Clara Zetkin, Laurie Penny, Sarah Ahmed, Angela Davis, Medea, Rosa Parks and Jeanne d’Arc – they are all present when Sahra Huby gives free rein to her anger on stage.
Audre Lorde, Greta Thunberg, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Simone de Beauvoir, Clara Zetkin, Laurie Penny, Sarah Ahmed, Angela Davis, Medea, Margarete Stokowski, Rosa Parks and Jeanne d’Arc – they are all present when Sahra Huby gives free rein to her anger on stage. Their speeches linger in the air, as a cloud of paper onto which a speaking mouth is projected. “How dare you?” Greta Thunberg’s voice inquires.
“On Anger” is a tribute and an appeal. An encouragement and a demand to be angry and become even angrier – especially as a woman. Anna Konjetzky’s dance installation premieres at the DANCE Festival in Munich in the Kammerspiele and shows that it is okay to be angry. It is a solo performance with the dancer Sahra Huby, who, using her voice and her body, shapes and formulates her anger. But she is not only expressing her own rage, which seems to have been accumulating for quite some time, but also the fury of many women around the world, not just nowadays, but throughout all of time.
She contracts her muscles, contorts her face, bares her teeth and opens her eyes wide. She pants and gasps, thrashes around and punches the air. She continually plays around with movements that our society associates with being masculine: she beats her chest with her fists and shows off her biceps. Even though everything is a bit exaggerated, it still isn’t a caricature. She is not imitating men, not at all, she is able to do it all just like them. She is just as strong and can be just as angry. And she has every reason to be. After flinging her body across the stage, she stands at the microphone and tells us why and what and who she is angry with. There is a lot of identification potential.
On the stage, strips of white paper hang lengthwise from the ceiling. They are evocative of posters or banners and are used as a projection surface. The word WUT (anger) flickers between them in LED letters. Images of demonstrations are shown where these kind of banners and signs are being held up: Black Lives Matter, Enough is enough, Stop Killing Us! In addition, there are scenes of escape, deforestation, old white men in suits shaking hands, people climbing over the wall on the border between Mexico and the United States – there are enough reasons to be angry. But why aren’t we? This is the question the audience is continuously confronted with.
Our culture is full of angry individuals. They are projected onto a framed screen that also hangs down from the ceiling. You can only see the dancer’s body, her face is replaced by aggressive cartoon characters or a screaming Jack Nicholson and Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, one of the most magnificent angry female characters of recent times. Sahra Huby’s body beneath the projections is distorted in poses of frustration and rage. Her feet stamp on the ground, her fists hurtle through the air. She is literally raging with anger. All of this is accompanied by Brendan Dougherty’s electronic music, which perfectly underlines what is happening on stage throughout the evening. It is hectic and loaded, electrifying at times. It also makes the audience’s adrenaline rise.
Indeed, anger is exhausting. Sahra Huby demonstrates that, as well. But what is much more important, proving that all of the energy invested in one’s anger is really worth it, is the liberation that can be felt afterwards. When it doesn’t matter that society demands women not to be angry and to endure oppression with a smile. In the end, the dancer virtually flies across the stage. Her movements are smoother, livelier and lighter. The clenched muscle tension and facial contortions from the beginning have disappeared. Her hair is no longer tied in a tight braid but falls loosely as she whips her head around. She has also taken off her overalls and is now naked. A further act of liberation and at the same time a sign of self-determination.
Finally, she reaches for the microphone again. She is not alone, she says. She is here alongside all of the angry women in history. She calls out their names and they begin to fill the space in a continuous loop. As a woman you are not alone with your anger. And it’s important to be angry. Anna Konjektzky’s performance shows with full force the kind of power it unleashes. She destroys the image of the hysterical and bitchy female and in her place she creates a strong, purposeful and angry woman. She shows that anger is not masculine. Up to this point, anger has been an emotion that is not associated with women. This has to change. Female anger is needed in order to make a difference and we need much more of it.