Stay at the Cité International des Arts, Paris, September / Oktober


Moon Rabbit to Moon Fish :: Poetry meets Painting

A score by Robert Schumann
Fragments from the correspondence of 
Clara and Robert Schumann 
Poetry and painting by Johanna Hansen


by Stefan Hölscher :: Signaturen Magazin

Stefan Hölscher

Johanna Hansen: Moon Rabbit to Moon Fish. Art book. Poetry and painting by Johanna Hansen, with a score by Robert Schumann and fragments from the correspondence of Clara and Robert Schumann. Neustadt a.d. Weinstraße (Wortschau Verlag) 2022. 92 pages. 69,00 Euro.


A book is something to read. A book is something to look at. A book is something to touch. A book is something that opens up to us and closes again, that gives us something tangible to hold and something intangible to ponder and puzzle over. Is a book something that sounds?
Johanna Hansen's "Moon Rabbit to Moon Fish" contains excerpts of scores from the "Kinderszenen" and other piano pieces by Robert Schumann in the original size of an old edition of these pieces from a flea market that fell into the artist's hands. Only very few of the people who go through the opulently illustrated book-sized work page by page are able to make these piano passages sound mentally. And yet something happens to the notes in this book, so that a kind of music emerges.
Painted over parts of the score excerpts are images - often in haunting reds, blues and blacks - of a male and, more often, a female figure: sometimes just a head or part of one, sometimes a body, sometimes a confluence of human and animal form.

Johanna Hansen's images and the long poem that fills the middle section of the book resonate with the love story of Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck, which was marked by tough obstacles. Excerpts from correspondence between the two form the sub-chapter headings of the poem, as it were. The whole - text as well as score - is interwoven with those haunting images that are at once powerfully moving and melancholy, almost childishly simple and abstractly expressive, softly flowing and strikingly contoured. Very much like the music of Robert Schumann.

The book, designed by Claudia Linnhoff and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, is a work of synaesthesia: the combination of letter quotation, poem, picture and musical score creates in their interplay something that moves our senses multimodally, so that even for those who cannot read music, the pages of the book make something in us vibrate and sound, creating a kind of pictorial sound poetry.

Moon rabbit and moon fish, which also repeatedly characterise and permeate the pictorial depictions, may be imagined as mythical figures that sometimes bring a playful, flowing lightness to the deep and not infrequently also abysmally fearful longing of the human figures. At the end of the book, Johanna Hansen writes in a short explanatory text about Clara Wieck and Robert Schumann:

From very different elements, then, the attempt about love (in difficult times) has emerged, an attempt about the longing for closeness, touch, but also oneness with oneself and the other: the world.

Longing captures everything in the longing: the inner images, the language, what is heard, said and understood. As if in a trialogue of language, image and music, Johanna Hansen's book manifests and plays around an insatiable longing, which for this reason alone does not lend itself to the ultimate happy ending: the longing of Clara and Robert, the longing of the painter and poet and probably also the longing of you and me and all of us, which manifests itself in our extraterrestrial dream figures.


WORTSCHAU Special Edition 4: Body Images

Johanna Hansen and Wolfgang Allinger (editors)

The first
www.wortschau.com with a colour interior. 
The special issue KÖRPERBILDER. 
A collaboration with the Wilhelm Hack Museum in Ludwigshafen. On the occasion of ten works by visual artists, all of which show the male view of the (often female) body, we invited 27 female authors to reflect on this view from a female perspective.

With them are
Elke Engelhardt, Annette Hagemann, Birgit Kölgen, Franziska Beyer-Lallauret, Kathrin Niemela, Sigune Schnabel,Monika Littau, Bess Dreyer, Ulrike Bail, Monika Vasik Sophie Reyer, Katharina Dück, Pegah Ahmadi, Johanna Hansen and many others. There will be readings in the museum, a soiree at the opening and an app with an audio tour for which some texts have been linguistically staged.

20220224_135559wortschau Kopie

Hot off the press out of the letterbox. I am pleased to be included