Johanna Breiding and Shoghig Halajian’s work explores feminist and queer kinship relations and embodied forms of knowledge production. Their film,The Rebel Body (2019), follows Anna Göldi (1734-1782), the last person to be executed for witchcraft in Europe, and traces her final path through Glarus, Switzerland. Instead of constructing a chronological narrative that accumulates evidentiary truth, the film uses “gossip” as an affective device that weaves together various retellings in order to surface how gendered violence was so integral to the history of land privatization and the enclosure of collective resources. The project included the participation of Glarus town residente and Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation (2004).
Breiding and Halajian are collaborators who come from divergent backgrounds. Breiding is an artist working primarily with photography, video and film. They are Assistant Professor of Art at Williams College and have previously taught at the Scripps College, San Francisco Art Institute, and California Institute of the Arts. They have exhibited widely and their work has been written about in Artforum, Art in America, Hyperallergic, Huffington Post, among others. They are a recipient of a DAAD grant and the 2017 Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Award. Halajian is a curator who serves on the Board of Directors at Human Resources LA, and was previously Assistant Director at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. She is co-editor of the online journal Georgia, in collaboration with Anthony Carfello and Suzy Halajian, which is supported by a Creative Capital I Andy Warhol Art Writers Grant. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Art History, Theory and Criticism with a Critical Gender Studies emphasis at University of California, San Diego.
During their residency at AiR 351, Breiding and Halajian will work on new video work that coalesces two seemingly disparate stories together: an individual’s experience of surviving a tsunami and the transoceanic journey of marine organisms. Their research will explore the entanglements of micro-species’ migratory behavior, personal trauma, and anthropogenic climate change in order to speculate on coalitional thinking across species and coasts.