BY Chloe Stead in Opinion | 09 DEC 22

Editor’s Picks: Florentina Holzinger’s Self-Injurious Acts

Other highlights include a new documentary on German dancer Pina Bausch and a podcast dedicated to solving the mystery of artist Ana Mendieta's suspicious death

BY Chloe Stead in Opinion | 09 DEC 22

Frieze Editor’s Picks is a fortnightly column in which a frieze editor shares their recommendations for what to watch, read and listen to.

Florentina Holzinger, Ophelia’s Got Talent

Florentina Holzinger, Ophelia’s Got Talent, 2022. Courtesy: the artist and Volksbühne, Berlin; Photograph: Nicole Marianna Wytyczak

In the opening week of Florentina Holzinger’s Ophelia’s Got Talent (2022), my Instagram feed was flooded with variations of the same image: six women in safety harnesses rubbing their naked bodies against a helicopter suspended ten metres above a stage. When, in the second week of the show’s run, a notoriously hard-to-please Austrian editor told me that Holzinger was the most exciting Austrian artist working today, I finally caved and bought a ticket. I don’t want to ruin the fun for anyone planning to see the piece, which runs at Berlin’s Volksbühne until 27 December, but a quick look at the trigger warnings included on the theatre’s website – self-injurious acts, blood, needles, strobe lights and explicit depiction of physical or sexual violence – make it clear that, for the choreographer, pushing the human body to its limits is more than just an academic exercise. While Ophelia’s Got Talent isn’t perfect – it’s about an hour too long and gets a bit preachy by the end – I left the theatre convinced that Holzinger is a once-in-a-generation talent.

Tickets for Ophelia’s Got Talent are sold out, but all of Florentina Holzinger’s future performances can be found on Something Great.

Florian Heinzen-Ziob, Dancing Pina


Last month, the dance critic Emily May invited me to go and see Dancing Pina (2022), a new documentary by German filmmaker Florian Heinzen-Ziob. The fact that Pina Bausch – like Madonna and Beyoncé – is recognizable by her first name alone speaks volumes about the late choreographer’s enduring legacy. A stalwart of 20th century dance, Bausch famously said that she wasn’t interested in how people moved but what moved them. It’s a philosophy that poses endless challenges for the classically trained dancers of Dresden’s prestigious Semperoper, whose rehearsals for Iphigenia in Tauris (1974) we watch in the film’s opening scenes. ‘Usually, we try so hard to erase everything that’s not perfect about ourselves,’ dancer Julian Amir Lacey explains in the trailer, ‘but being imperfect here is perfect.’ This struggle is contrasted with a group of amateur dancers from across the continent of Africa who answered an open call to travel to Senegal to learn Bausch’s most famous piece, The Rite of Spring (1975). After watching their intense training sessions, I, too, cried tears of disappointment when, towards the end of the film, the outbreak of COVID-19 meant they were unable to come to Europe to perform the piece live.

Florian Heinzen-Ziob’s Dancing Pina is distributed by Mind Jazz Pictures.

Helen Molesworth, The Death of an Artist

As a fan of both true crime and feminist performance art, it was perhaps inevitable that I would find my way to this podcast on the death of Ana Mendieta. A promising artist with a penchant for violent imagery, Mendieta was just 36 years old when she fell from the 34th floor of the New York apartment she shared with her artist husband Carl Andre. Although Andre was ultimately acquitted of any wrongdoing, many of Mendieta’s friends and supporters still blame him for her death. I’m only on the second episode of this six-part series, which is a co-production by Somethin’ Else and Malcom Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries, but I’m already suitably impressed by host Helen Molesworth’s telling of the story, which could have been exploitative in lesser hands. Famously fired from her role as chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Molesworth positions herself as an art world insider/outsider who is well-placed to take on the culture of silence around Mendieta’s death.

Main image and thumbnail: 
Florentina Holzinger, Ophelia’s Got Talent, 2022. Courtesy: the artist and Volksbühne, Berlin; Photograph: Nicole Marianna Wytyczak

Chloe Stead is assistant editor of frieze. She lives in Berlin, Germany.