"I'm Lost Without Your Rhythm"

Johanna Billing


Johanna Billing’s videos deftly weave together music, movement and rhythm and place subtle emphasis on individual performance and representations of changing societies. Born in Jönköping, Sweden 1973, Johanna has been making video works since 1999 that deal with the notion of performance and the possibility it holds to explore issues of the public and the private. The participants in Johanna’s videos all play themselves but take part in staged situations that oscillate between documentary and fiction, as a multilayered interpretation of a place. Billing’s films often involve music, which in her hands becomes a tool for communication, memory and reconstruction. Parallel to this, Johanna also runs the record label ‘Make it Happen’ with her brother Anders.


‘I’m Lost Without Your Rhythm’ is based around the recording of a live choreography workshop involving amateur Romanian dancers and acting students at the Periferic 8 biennial of Contemporary Art in Iasi, Romania in 2008. Led by renowned Swedish choreographer Anna Vnuk, with whom Billing last worked over a decade ago, there is no final performance as such: the resulting video weaves several day’s activity into a continuous process of live improvisation between choreographer, dancers and local musicians, watched by an audience who were free to come and go.


The project was an attempt to explore, along with the participating individuals and the audience, what contemporary choreography can be, or means today, especially in the cultural context of the small city of Iasi where there are few opportunities to enter the field of contemporary dance.


The work’s soundtrack is a combination of the improvised live music performed at the event in Iasi, and a version of the song ‘My Heart’ (originally written and performed by the Swedish drum and vocal duo ‘Wild Birds and Piece Drums’ in 2009), reinterpreted by Johanna and a group of fellow musicians in a Stockholm studio. The final video was created through a lengthy post-production editing process, in which the dancers’ movements, the activities taking place around them, and the rhythm of the music are reconstructed into a new choreography that is closer to everyday life than might first be imagined.


Johanna Billing and Emily Smith

This text was originally written for Johanna Billing's show 'I'm Lost Without Your Rhythm' at Modern Art Oxford 17 April - 6 June 2010.


Hollybush Gardens is a gallery in East London, initiated in 2005 by Lisa Panting and Malin Ståhl. Our focus is on showing young international artists, and working on specific projects including off-site exhibitions, residencies and publications. Projects include What is to be said? which utilises the program at Hollybush Gardens as a point of departure to approach critical thinking through different mediums of artistic practices including film, performance and text. Hollybush Gardens represent: Johanna Billing, Andrea Büttner, Knut Henrik Henriksen, Karl Holmqvist, Claire Hooper, Anja Kirschner & David Panos, Benoît Maire, Eline McGeorge, Przemek Matecki, Bruno Pacheco, Falke Pisano and Ruth Proctor. Recent shows at the gallery include HAP Grieshaber, Andrea Büttner, Benoit Maire, Falke Pisano, Karl Holmqvist, Johanna Billing, Knut Henrik Henriksen and Claire Hooper. As a gallery we also take part in art fairs including Frieze and Art Basel.






Hollybush Gardens

Geirsgata 11, 101 Reykjavík


Unit 2, B.J. House, 10-14 Hollybush Gardens, London E2 9QP