Annie Abrahams


Annie Abrahams has a doctoraal (M2) in biology from the University of Utrecht and a MA2 from the Academy of Fine Arts of Arnhem. In her work, using video, performance as well as the internet, she questions the possibilities and the limits of communication in general and more specifically investigates its modes under networked conditions. She is known worldwide for her net art and collective writing experiments and is an internationally regarded pioneer of networked performance art.
Abrahams develops what she calls an aesthetics of trust and attention and creates situations meant to reveal messy and sloppy sides of human behaviour, where she traps reality and somakes that reality available for thought.

She has performed and shown work extensively in France, including at the Jeu de Paume; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the CRAC, Sète; the Paris–Villette theater and in more than hunderd international galleries and museums including The Museum of Contemporary Art, Zagreb; the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Asheville, North Carolina; the Espai d’Art Contemporani de Castelló, Spain; the New Musem, New York; the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, Yerevan; Furtherfield gallery, London; Aksioma, Ljubljana, and NIMk, Amsterdam, in festivals such as the MoscowFilm Festival; the International Film Festival, Rotterdam and the Stuttgarter Filmwinter (1prize 2011), and on online platforms as and Turbulence.

She teached at the university of Montpellier in the arts department. (2002-2005) Autumn 2005, she started provi&testi: meetings around art works to become, not yet finished, trespassing habits; and +++plus+++ editions. From november 2006 to january 2009 she curated the project “InstantS” and organized the “Breaking Solitude” and ”Double Bind” webperformance series on In 2012 she co-organised the first Cyposium – online symposium on cyberformance, and published an article on webcam mediated communication and collaboration in JAR #2 (Journal of Artistic Research). In 2013 she started with Emmanuel Guez the project ReadingClub, an online venue for collaborative reading and writing performances. In 2014 she published two books: “from estranger to e- stranger” with CONA and Aksioma, Ljubljana; and “CyPosium – the book” published by LINK editions and la Panacée, co- edited with Helen Varley Jamieson. Since august 2015 Abrahams is the artistic director of a thesis by Muriel Piqué (University of Aix-Marseille).

Annie Abrahams was born as a farmer’s daughter in a small village in the Netherlands in 1954. When she is going to high school for the first time, she stays mute for three days, the time necessary to learn to express herself otherwise than in the local dialect. Having obtained a doctoral in biology in 1980 she leaves her post as an assistant researcher at the university because her colleagues didn’t appreciate she read Dostojevski in her spare time. Annie is teaching biology at high school and obtains a diploma in painting at the art school in 1986. In 1987, with a two years grant from the Dutch government for young artists she is going to live in France, where she stays until now.
There, using a custom-made computer program called DOEK, she learns to use a computer to help her to construct and to keep trace of the installations she makes with her paintings on complexity. Annie Abrahams shows her computer drawings for the first time in her show « Possibilités » in l’espace Forum in Nice, France in 1992. When in 1996 she creates a ‘meeting place’ in a show in Nijmegen, Annie uses the computer to be present from a distance. Since then she produces net specific work and starts « Being Human » (low tech mood mutators / not immersive 1996 – 2007) her most important web work, that explores interpersonal relations on the net. This work concentrates on the possibilities and limitations of communication on the net and has been shown in various international new media and video festivals and shows. (Skopje, Mexico City, Tallinn, Seoul, Atlanta, Montreal, Athens, Clermont Ferrand, Tokyo, Bristol, Seattle, Split, Rotterdam, San Fransisco etc.) Her work evolved into Internet related research pieces among which Huis Clos / No Exit : a networked performance series investigating collaboration and relational dynamics in a dispersed group, and Angry Women.  Lately Abrahams continues investigating the role of empathy, things, the voice, absence and presence in online communication and the concept of « being with » in projects as besides, On Object Agency with the choreographer and theorician Martina Ruhsam and DistantFeeling(s) with Daniel Pinheiro and Lisa Parra. Abrahams often collaborates with other artists as for instance Nicolas Frespech, Antye Greie, Curt Cloninger, Mark River from MTAA, Helen Varley Jamieson and Igor Stromajer among others.

When studying biology I had to observe a colony of monkeys in a zoo. I found this very interesting because I learned something about human communities by watching the apes. In a certain way I watch the internet with the same appetite and interest. I consider it to be a universe where I can observe some aspects of human attitudes and behaviour without interfering. (for instance in ViolenceS )
I am also interested in providing a situation in which the visitors, by leaving a personal trace, collaborate in revealing a collective voice, participate in the emergence of a staggering beginning for a language of the multitude. I am convinced these collections contain a revelation of actual tendencies in society (our contemporary being) and procure us a kind of cartography of the other. (I am looking for ways to introduce the web-created-text objects in real space, to inseminate these collections with physical energy, I want to give « flesh and bones » to what exist as potential in a computer and what appears as only light on a screen)
On the web I am also experimenting with the possibilities of making visitor behaviour (by clicking, choosing, participating, the visitor reveals the work of the artist) the content of an esthetical contemplation (see Separation , Painsong, Karaoke)
. « Interview with Annie Abrahams » by Béatrice Bonfanti 2005.

I want to know how they function, not by them telling me, but by me almost forcing them to reveal an instance of their ‘hidden code’ in public. I want us to go beyond self-representation and the control that this requires. Am I really forcing them to do this?… No I am not. What happens is that the situation in itself that is, the telematic performance interface, the protocols, the flaws in the streaming connections rewrites the conditions of communication in a way that makes this revelation possible, if not inevitable. Annie Abrahams. Allergic to Utopias, Interview by Maria Chatzichristodoulou fir digicult, 2010.

We perform experimenting thinking together using words and things and the affects transferred via our voices. We experiment performing thinking together, We think performing experiments together, We experiment thinking performance, We experiment performing thought together using words and things and the affects transferred via our voices... Extracted from besides, what are we doing? Notes on besides,… by Annie Abrahams 03/2016.pdf

Want to know more on how I practice the relation art/science in my performance art, the role of its audience, what means intimacy in networked performances and to be a female artist. Read this interview done by Maria Chatzichristodoulou in 2010.  It is still actual!

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