Sonia Wieder-Atherton | Chantal Akerman

Sonia Wieder-Atherton | Chantal Akerman SONIA WIEDER-ATHERTON Born in San Francisco of a mother of Romanian origin and an American father, Sonia Wieder-Atherton grew up in New York, then Paris. There, she entered Maurice Gendron’s class at the Conservatoire National Supérieur. At 19, she crossed the iron curtain and went to live in Moscow, where she studied with Natalia Chakhovskaïa at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. At 25, she returned to France where she won the Rostropovitch Competition. She has performed as a soloist in a number of prestigious orchestras, notably: the Paris Orchestra, the French National Orchestra, the Belgian National Orchestra, the Liège Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonia, the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Lisbon, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Luxembourg, the NDR Orchestra in Hanover, the REMIX Ensemble, Les Siècles, Asko/ Schönberg… and has worked regularly with musicians like Imogen Cooper and Raphaël Oleg. She instigated a wide range of projects conceived as complete musical and visual experiences: Jewish songs, inspired by the art of the Hazzan; Songs of Slavic Lands, conceived as a journey from Russia to Central Europe; Vita, in which she tells the story of Angioletta-Angel via Monteverdi and Scelsi; Odyssey for Cello and Imaginary Choir, in which a woman, alone with her cello, accompanied by a soundtrack, faces the elements; Little Girl Blue, from Nina Simone. For Wieder-Atherton, playing Bach, Beethoven, Jewish songs or Nina Simone involves a similar form of interrogation: what can/cannot be understood from a voice? She constantly pushes back boundaries, venturing into other artistic forms, with projects like From the East in Music, a show designed with footage from Chantal Akerman’s D’Est; and two collaboration with celebrated actresses: Night Dances, with Charlotte Rampling, featuring works by Benjamin Britten and Sylvia Plath, and Marguerite Duras’ Navire Night with Fanny Ardant. In 2017, she conceived and performed Exile, in collaboration with the theater/dance/choral troupe Compagnie Sans Père and the pianist Laurent Cabasso. In 2011, she received the Bernheim Foundation Award and in 2015, she was named Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. CHANTAL AKERMAN When Chantal Akerman died on October 5, 2015, she left behind a prolific and singular oeuvre. A truly independent filmmaker, she used to write or co-write all her screenplays. She worked in a variety of formats, exploring both documentary, fiction and the personal essay form – in most than 60 works: 18 features, countless shorts and featurettes, and a dozen multiple-screen installations – always mixing high art with popular culture, minimalist rigor with physical exuberance. Through this multiplicity of formats, though, a unique tone, the specific quality of the gaze, an inimitable mastery of the mise en scène constituted a style that can be immediately spotted. Born in Brussels in 1950, Akerman fell in love with cinema when she saw Godard’s Pierrot le fou as a teenager. At 18 she made her first short, the irreverent Saute Ma Ville (1968), and at 25, with Jeanne Dielman (1975), she became a household name, defining an era, and influencing filmmakers as different as Béla Tarr, Gus Van Sant and Nina Menkes. She often appeared in her films, racing, meditating, writing, sleeping, stumbling into things, singing – a “female Charlie Chaplin,” she used to say. Her presence was the index of a novel way of performing femininity, queerness and the anguish felt by the children of Holocaust survivors. Hers was an unclassifiable body exploding the boundaries of sex, race, ethnicity, genre, language, and geography – at the border of the image, at the “border between documentary and fiction” – as an inimitable voice, the thinly melodious voice of a child, later made husky by the smoke of a thousand cigarettes. Some of her most noted films include: Hotel Monterey (1972), Je, tu, il, elle (1974), News from Home (1976), Les Rendez-vous d’Anna (1978), Toute une nuit (1982), Golden Eighties (1986), Histoires d’Amérique (1986), D’Est (1993), Sud (1999), La Captive (2000), De l’autre côté (2002), Autour de Sonia Wieder-Atherton (2003), Demain on déménage (2005), Là-bas (2006), La Folie Almayer (2011) and No Home Movie (2015). Zena Zezza organized one of the most extensive surveys of Akerman’s films in LOOKING, REALLY LOOKING! “The Films of Chantal Akerman” co-presented with Northwest Film Center (June 17, 2016 – May 17, 2017). As part of its Chantal Akerman artist project season, Zena also produced six “Dialogues” events on the ideas and influences in Akerman’s artist practice with curators, historians, writers, actors and guests from other fields.