Art duo HYENAZ question embodiment with an ever sharpening focus

The body is disappearing: from social interactions blasted into the corporate cloud, to machine intelligence tangled in the systems that govern life, to techno-futurists fantasies of an age where analogue flesh has vanished into digital consciousness.

At this uncanny juncture, where surfaces look familiar but everything is shifting, HYENAZ have embarked on a decade-long music, performance and sonic research project they call “Foreign Bodies”.

These techno soundscapes, performative installations and a/v works are based on the sonic shapeshifting of field recordings gathered everywhere from refugee camps to amphibian habitats to intentional communities. The works asks the question: What happens when the body becomes a foreign object, an unknown territory even to itself, a thing to be feared, managed even annihilated?

Berlin-based sound and movement artists Kathryn Fischer and Adrienne Teicher make up the core of HYENAZ, though they are often joined on stage by a team of dancers and performance artists.

Their first release for Foreign Bodies PROXIMITY was an act of listening and learning from non-human animals, frogs in particular. Field recordings were sampled and synthesised and layered into a techno track in which only the kick drum and a short vocal sample is non-amphibian. Everything else you hear is frog.

The track premiered in the poetry journal Interim as “a/v poetry”–a contemporary dance music video with integrated text that the duo choreographed and edited themselves. A virtual sculpture PROXIMA debuted at the Near-Field Communication Digital Art Biennale, Gol, Norway and is now traveling around Europe.

With Foreign Bodies HYENAZ build on their reputation as visionary performers. Electro superstar Peaches called HYENAZ a “performance monster duo” in The Guardian. They have performed twice at Berlin’s world famous techno mansion Berghain as part of Your Moms Agency’s Digital Art Meets Music series and have been energetically touring the world, from SXSW to the MIDI Festival Shanghai; from techno festival Garbicz to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul. It was at the latter institution that HYENAZ made their theater debut, producing the sound and movement intervention Spectral Rite with the visual artists Sylbee Kim and Nico Pelzer.

Foreign Bodies is the culmination of the evolution of HYENAZ from darkwave duo to a/v artists. In their 2013 self titled debut, (Records Ad Nauseam) HYENAZ imagined themselves as transgender hyena-humanoids, scavenging on the edges of apocalypse, building bodies and identities from civilization’s detritus. In 2016 they released the mystical and fierce CRITICAL MAGIC 비평적 마술, in which chaos magic, critical theory and Korean cut/ups create an electronic dance album that ignites a singular cohesive spell. The track BINARIES picked up a Berlin Music Video Award in 2017.

Another notable release was their 2017 “i want to move” remix of Paula Temple’s GEGEN which raised money for Berlin based asylum seekers and advocates. Most recently they scored the film “Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution” by Yony Leyser, and performed at its screening at International Documentary Film festival in Amsterdam.

The body has always been central to the work of HYENAZ, but Foreign Bodies examines questions of embodiment with an ever sharpening focus. In a frame from PROXIMITY, text flashes on the screen asking: HOW MUCH OF MY BODY COULD I LOSE. Another frame asks: DO YOU RECOGNISE ME / MY / YOUR SOVEREIGNTY. The pain of having and being a body in the 21st Century is the fuel for art, music and aliveness on a stage as an exit from alienation.