The TBL Story

The collaboration between Anna and me came about during our time studying together at the Braunschweig University of Art in Marina Abramovic’s performance class.
Marina gave the instruction to develop a performance on the material coffee. It was an opportunity to present a performance at an event that had a sponsor from the coffee industry. I was dealing intensively with home and nationality and felt primarily disturbed and provoked by this topic. After all, I embodied anything but the atmosphere that I associate with coffee. I was neither temperamental, nor hot, nor dark-smelling. I was/am white and privileged, just the connoisseur of this material that has so many facets… I was/am rather tall, composed, with a special nose and straight hair.
In the moment of this thoughtful indignation, Anna walked through my field of vision and also exhibited all these characteristics that I ascribed to myself. And I realised at that moment that I wanted Anna to join me, in opposing our characteristics to coffee. And in terms of materiality, something cold and clear to go with the coffee? Ice skates?
I said: -“Anna, will you skate with me on coffee?” Anna’s direct answer: -“Well, if we use coffee grounds.” Ok. This honest and authentic way of working has stayed with us to this day. 

This was the founding moment of TBL (TallBlondLadies) in 2003.

After having studied post-dramatic theatre and being engaged in numerous ensembles, I had started to study again and was just getting started with understanding how to work as a solo-artist within fine art performance. In the class we got given a task from our professor, to work with coffee. I was thinking about projects along the lines of; -milling coffee beans using only my mouth or -working alongside the workers on an assembly-line in a coffee factory. I was just considering the concept of using old coffee grounds, to tie in with my other environmental works, when I was approached by Irina suggesting that we should work together. The unexpected advancement and my temporal reluctance of working collaboratively explains, in hindsight, my somewhat dismissive response: -“Well, only if we use old coffee grounds and I definitely do not want to make a dance piece.” 

Since then, we have been working together in the field of Long Duration Performance, which is a form of endurance art and lasts several hours/days. 
TBL (TallBlondLadies) uses shoes as research tools. Just as the ice skates determined our first performance, further footwear followed. 
These instruments create paradoxes as symbolic carriers and sound bodies in the Long Duration Performances. We also capture these paradoxes in video and photographic works as well as installations.
In our work, we offer stereotypes and at the same time dissolve them in gestures, actions, clothing and places. We want to deprive the observer of the possibility of connecting to his/her state of mind or biography. TBL (TallBlondLadies) negates comparison and creates paradoxes that emphasise the ridiculous and comical, but also the serious and the tragic as standards of value. In this way, new inner connections can emerge that do not fall back on any habits.

Read in German/in Deutsch Lesen


TBL are represented at the Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI)

TBL are members of the Tanz und Performance Netzwerk Schleswig-Holstein (TuP.SH)