Johanna Hedva

Johanna Hedva is a Korean American writer, artist, and musician, who was raised in Los Angeles by a family of witches, and now lives in LA and Berlin. Hedva’s practice cooks magic, necromancy, and divination together with mystical states of fury and ecstasy, and political states of solidarity and disintegration. They are devoted to deviant forms of knowledge and to doom as a liberatory condition. There is always the body — its radical permeability, dependency, and consociation — but the task is how to eclipse it, how to nebulise it, and how to cope when this inevitably fails. Whether the form is novels, essays, theory, poetry, music, performance, AI, videogames, installation, sculpture, drawings, or trickery, ultimately Hedva’s work is different kinds of writing because it is different kinds of language embodied: it is words on a page, screaming in a room, dragging a hand through water.

Hedva is the author of the novel Your Love Is Not Good, which Kirkus called a "hellraising, resplendent must read". Their nonfiction collection How To Tell When We Will Die: Essays on Sickness, Fate, and Doom will be published by Hillman Grad Books in 2024. They are also the author of Minerva the Miscarriage of the Brain (Sming Sming/Wolfman Books 2020), which collects a decade of work in poetry, plays, performances, and essays. Their novel On Hell (Sator Press/Two Dollar Radio 2018), was named one of Dennis Cooper’s favorites of 2018.

Hag blues, cave music, mystical doom, intimate metal, and succubus folk are some of the genres that articulate Hedva’s music. Their live performances are as much a cathartic grief purge as a droned-out metal colossus that summons the holy spirit. They are informed by the Korean tradition of Pansori singing, which demands rehearsal next to waterfalls in order to ravage the vocal cords, as well as Keiji Haino, Sunn O))), Jeff Buckley, Diamanda Galás, and Sainkho Namtchylak.

Their latest album, Black Moon Lilith in Pisces in the 4th House, was released on crystalline morphologies and Sming Sming, on January 1, 2021. It is a solo electric guitar and voice performance that sluices through cosmic darkness, the sound of the void, and benthic time.

Their 2019 EP, The Sun and the Moon had two of its tracks played on the moon. ArtReview called it “a black slurry of rich, harsh noise, industrial beats, and grainy samples. Like much of Hedva’s work, the album is a celebration of darkness, an evocation of the swampy zone where the sacred and profane meet.”

Their work has been shown in Berlin at Gropius Bau, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Klosterruine, and Institute of Cultural Inquiry; The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London; Performance Space New York; Gyeongnam Art Museum in South Korea; Modern Art Oxford; Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Bolzano; the LA Architecture and Design Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Art on the Moon; and in the Transmediale, Unsound, Rewire, and Creepy Teepee Festivals. Hedva has written about the political and mystical capacities of Nine Inch Nails, Sunn O))), and Lightning Bolt; the legacy of Susan Sontag; how everything is erotic therefore exhausting; and the revolutionary potential of illness. Their writing has appeared in Triple Canopy, frieze, The White Review, Topical Cream, Spike, Die Zeit, and is anthologised in Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art. Their essay “Sick Woman Theory,” published in 2016, has been translated into 11 languages.