Annette Weisser. Mycelium
Book launch and Talk with Annette Weisser und Julia Bosson
Going to openings and parties, setting up a studio and breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, Noora is living the post–art school life in Berlin when, in 2005, she's diagnosed with breast cancer. Vaguely restless, until now she's been neither happy nor unhappy, but her entry into what she calls “Cancerland” forces her to question the assumptions by which she lived her life so far. Uneasily, she realizes that the “relationships of the soul” she and her friends value over everything else might not be as indelible as family, after all.
In this sharp and picaresque first novel, conceptual artist Annette Weisser depicts the transformation of Berlin from the frontier city of the cold war to an international art hub as an analog and backdrop to the chaotic, corporeal transformation Noora undergoes through cancer and its treatments. Written in the casual, associative style of a female coming-of-age novel, Mycelium examines German trauma, art school dramas, and the inevitable parsing into winners and losers that her generation undergoes as they enter their mid-thirties.
Annette Weisser is an artist and writer who lives in Berlin. From 2006 to 2019, she taught in the MFA program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
Julia Bosson is a writer whose work has been featured in publications including BOMB, Guernica, the Believer Logger, and Lenny. She is a current recipient of a Fulbright Grant and lives in Berlin, where she is working on a novel.
Lecture and Talk will be held in english, Q&A bilingiual
Julia Bosson interviewing Annette Weisser in BOMB magazine:
JB I was taken by how the story trusts in coincidences, which crop up everywhere. What was the function of these coincidences for you?
AW That’s how people live, right? I’m always looking out for signs. Especially when you’re confronted with the possibility of dying, you start talking to buildings and trees.
JB In some ways, Noora is searching for consolation from these coincidences, whether from internet search algorithms, or the Volksbühne, the theater in Mitte whose banners she treats like an oracle, which at one point take on its own voice and actually talks to her.
AW The Volksbühne is a very important place for Noora and her Bohemian friends. Throughout my time in Berlin, it was under the direction of Frank Castorf. He installed a purple neon sign that spelled OST (East) on the roof. There were five- to eight-hour-long Castorf plays based on Chekhov or Dostoevsky, and there was René Pollesch with his very own brand of theoretical theater. There were also political events and dance parties on the stage. It’s not a coincidence that Noora talks to the Volksbühne. It’s where for the last twenty years we went to check in on the present moment: what the important issues were, how we should feel, how we should think, how we should talk to each other, and what about.
JB And there it is, literally telegraphing messages. The big moment of growth at the end comes when she chooses not to listen to it anymore. That was interesting, because Noora distrusts that cancer will be a transformative experience.
AW Everyone promises you that.
JB That she’s finally going to change …
AW …and become a better person.
JB Which is presented with some sort of ironic detachment.
AW But the desire is real.