Mira Kandathil and Annina Machaz (Follow us) got to know each other during their actingstudies in Bern. With their first Performance about the icons Marilyn Monroe and Amy Winehouse they won the Premio Newcomerprize in Switzerland. Their second Piece “Ask the Oracle” premiered 2018 at Gessnerallee Zürich. Their newest work “Nora oder Ein Altenheim” came out shortly before the pandemic at the Freischwimmen Festival at Sophiensääle Berlin. Mira and Annina are both performers, directors and authors of their work. They found their own stage language - a mixture between absurd texts, powerful images and songs within a selfmade setdesign.
Mira Kandathil, is an artist and scientist. She works as a writer, performer, director and researches about and as art figures. With her art figures she appears on scientific and artistic platforms and public meeting places: sometimes as a speaker at scientific events, lecturer at the art academy or, for example, as the face of a theater festival. In her autoethnographic and artistic work she deals with identity, agency, authorship, stardom and the interference between art and science.
In her first own production "Mira Bhai - A South Indian classical dance performance", which she performed in Bern and Cologne in 2010, she played with the blurring of reality and fiction, dealt artistically with the staging of authenticity and identity and questioned conventions. She announced a dance and broke the expectations of the audience with a ninety-minute surrealistic monologue that made the audience laugh and cry.
After her acting studies at the Bern University of the Arts (2012), she studied in the MA Theater - Scenic Arts Practice and focused on artistic research, her own authorship and started to specialize in art figures. In her first master's thesis she already explored questions regarding the artistic creation process, professionalization and marketing of art figures and developed and embodied her own art figures. She documented and analyzed the development process of her art figures in her written and performative master's thesis "Die Kunstfigur als performativ ästhetisches Gesamtkunstwerk oder was mich mit Harald Glööckler verbindet" (2016). Based on this thesis, she identified a potential of art figures in research. This was followed by a description and analysis of the art figure as a research tool within her second master thesis (2017) at the University of Bern in the Department of Social Anthropology. In her thesis she illustrated how principles of embodiment and marketing function within art figures and how these principles can be used for research purposes, for data collection and the artistic presentation of the research results. In 2017, she co-initiated an interdisciplinary research project on art figures thogether with HKB and she worked artistically and scientifically in the project. Since 2019, she has been working as a PhD student in the interdisciplinary SNF project
"„Kunstfiguren –Gestaltungsprozesse fiktiver Identitäten“" at the Institut Praktiken und Theorien der Künste (HKB). She is doing her PhD on art figures at SINTA (University of Bern/ Hochschule der Künste Bern) in the field of social anthropology. In her doctoral thesis, which is funded by the SNF, she deals with artistic-scientific forms of knowledge generation and transmission. In her dissertation, she develops a new performative-ethnographic research method, which she calls “Darstellende Beobachtung” (“performing observation”), based on "participant observation". For this purpose, she analyzes artistic design processes of art figures and becomes an art figure herself. With her art figures she appears in various functions in artistic and non-artistic contexts. She publishes the results of her artistic-scientific research in the form of lecture performances, scientific articles and workshops.
In the duo Follow Us (Kandathil/Machaz), she has been realizing joint theater projects with artist Annina Machaz since 2012 about women* who influence them. In their performances they deal with historical figures from antiquity and pop culture, protagonists from literature and mythology, and people from their environment. Follow Us are several art figures: from the priestess Pythia to the pop icon Amy Winehouse. In 2014 the duo won the first prize in the Swiss young talent competition "Premio". In their first joint stage project, "Follow Us," they dealt with the embodiment of two art figures based on Marilyn Monroe and Amy Winehouse respectively. In their examination of the pop icons, they explored the appearance and reality of stardom, moving between glamour and failure. For their show "Ask the Oracle - The future is now," the two were nominated for the Swiss Performance Prize in 2017 along with six other contenders* and selected for the [8:tension] Young Choreographers' Series at ImPulsTanz Vienna in 2019. Their third work "Nora oder ein Altenheim" was produced by FREISCHWIMMEN (production platform for performance and theater, supported by brut Wien, FFT Düsseldorf, Schwankhalle Bremen, Sophiensaele Berlin, Theater Rampe Stuttgart, and Theaterhaus Gessnerallee Zürich) and Schlachthaus Theater and premiered at Sophiensaele. In addition, Kandathil has worked as a dramaturg and coach in artistic works and as an actress in municipal theater and cinema.
Further links and selected press comments on her own works:
„Nicht alltägliche Forschung
Wie eine Kunstfigur Kunst und Wissenschaft vermischt
Maria Marshal ist forsch und eloquent. Sie ist Forscherin und gleichzeitig Forschungsgegenstand. Sie ist ein Konstrukt, aber auch Realität.
Maria Marshal ist eine Kunstfigur. Und als solche schreibt sie am Institut für Sozialanthropologie der Universität Bern eine Dissertation über Kunstfiguren. Sie sei weltweit die erste, welche das mache. Als Kunstfigur betreibe sie Wissenschaft, eine Künstlerin sei sie nicht.“ (SRF)
„Lady Gaga ist ein Kunstwerk!", sagt Maria Marshal. Diese findet, das Kunstfiguren viel zu wenig erforscht sind und ernennt sich deshalb selbst zur Expertin für die Kunstfigurenforschung. Sie ist sogar Teil des Forschungsgebietes: Maria Marshal ist nämlich eine Kunstfigur.“ (Radio Rabe)
Und jetzt kommt der Hammer: Das Festival «Keine Disziplin» hat ab dieser Edition ein Gesicht! Es heisst: Maria Marshal! (Gessnerallee Zürich)
Annina Machaz, born and raised in Zurich. (My ancestors came with a travelling circus from former Czechoslovakia to Switzerland).
After successfully attaining the university entrance diploma at a high school specialized in the arts, she completed a bachelor and master`s degree in Drama and Scenic Arts Practice at the Academy of Performing Arts in Berne. During her studies, she received the sponsorship of Migros Kulturprozent as well as the „Best Actors` Award“ for the part of Ophelia at the ‚International ACT Festival Bilbao‘.
Together with Mira Kandathil and their play about the two iconic artists Amy Winehouse und Marilyn Monroe she received the Swiss Newcomer Award Premio. In collaboration with Mira Kandathil, she implements other projects in co-production with Gessnerallee Zürich. The projects „Ask the Oracle“ and „Nora or a Retirement Home“ are invited to several festivals in Europe.
Annina creates her own stage designs, papier-mâché figures and absurd texts. As a performer, she works and tours for various well-known artists: Ivo Dimchev (as ‚Girl from the audience’ in “FEST”), Ann Liv Young (as Captain Hook’ in “Peter Pan”) and for Florentina Holzinger (Show ‚Apollon’ as “Calamity Jane” as well as in “TANZ’ as the witch or in A Divine Comedy as “Dante”). She performed in well known Theatrehouses like Volksbühne Berlin, Centre Pompidou Paris, Skirball New York, Festival of the Arts hosted by the Ruhr region and many others.
Last Winter she co-directed the fairy tale „Gretel und Hänsel” at the Theater Neumarkt Zürich and played as well the character of the evil gallery owner. In 2021 she was awarded with the Landis & Gyr Prize to realize her own shortfilmproject. For 2022 she is invited to produce and create a piece from and with the theatre Hora. Hora is the only professional theatre in Switzerland whose ensemble members all have a certified learning disability.
Besides her theatre work, Annina has also taken part in several film productions and has organized two exhibitions with her own art work (Paintings and sculpture).