23. Januar 2020
“Harmonious sounds and balanced vibrations are the basis for a good life at every level,” is Michèle Adamski’s description of the principle at the heart of her work. She has been a mental coach and sound practitioner for ten years, holding talks and salons on the subject since 1989.
A trained jazz and chanson singer, Michèle had a long stage career and organized wonderful music festivals in Cologne and Berlin, Germany. In keeping with the philosophy of their hostess, the guests and musicians at the festivals always came together in harmonious, joyous encounters. “So many contacts came about from those salons––from weddings and babies to professional collaborations, especially among the artists. The festival was so popular that it attracted around 6000 visitors on a single weekend.” We convinced the Berlin resident to take part in “The White Cube Art Project” and reveal more about herself.
In your salons you invite fascinating personalities to talk about their lives. In the White Cube, you yourself were in the spotlight. How did it feel?
Good! I was very tired that day, but it felt good. The project is really great and showcases women that otherwise go unnoticed. It’s a chance to hear and read about projects and motives that really need to be heard, and that will inspire others to take courage. I think it’s wonderful; please carry on! Mike Meyer is a great guy, and is a very sensitive guide through the loneliness and exposure of the White Cube.
Our project is about presenting women with personal “rough edges” or quirks; what are yours?
If I can’t make my presence felt by “calling softly,” things build up in me over time. I try to encounter people with calmness, as much diplomacy as possible––not always successfully––and respect. My criticisms are often too quiet or don’t get heard. My intuition is usually right, but I rarely share it. These are genuine “rough edges.” I have a lot of courage in my make-up, but courage is a really costly characteristic. Courage can spill over into anger. Now, that doesn’t need to be a bad thing––but anger has to be transformed into constructive action. Arun Gandhi said that anger was a gift that must be used wisely for the benefit of humanity. I very rarely experience eruptions of anger––but when I do, they’re huge. Cathartic, but dangerous! And yet lava helps the soil to become fertile. In contrast to this volcanic temperament, people tend to think I’m too good-natured. That’s another rough edge of my personality, true, but I’ve decided to pay the price for it.
What’s your personal passion? What makes your heart beat faster?
When I travel I love meeting people that live simply in and with nature. My heart soars at the beauty of our planet and at people that know how to appreciate the gift of this planet with all its possibilities, the sounds of nature, and the music they often create from the depths of the soul. Water is very important to me: oceans, rivers, lakes. Water has so many stories to tell. Water has primeval knowledge. Water is healing. This universal connection is my passion. I also love creating beautiful moments; I enjoy hospitality, and it makes me very happy to do nice things for people. Mental coaching, the salons and talks are all perfect for me.
What makes you laugh?
I love laughing but I’ve never found a good answer to that question. I just love laughing! I’ve always found Pierre Richard really funny, and I love the traditional Cologne sense of humor and the dry Rhineland logic; both of them make me roll on the floor laughing.
What does love mean to you?
I always used to think that the secret of love could be found in books, or could be seen in the relationships around us. It took a long while before I realized that this kind of love (in my view) is nothing but imagination, a construct of the mind. If the traditional image of love were genuine and true, many problems would simply disappear; people wouldn’t split up for no reason. But it seems to me that love starts within myself; life and all its facets, within me and with me, needs to be in tune. If I can treat myself, nature, and the people around me well, and if I can even extend that to people I don’t like (that’s something I only failed at once!), I feel a deep contentment and calm. That calm is the source of so much trust and joy that I believe this state could be described as love.
How did you become what you are today?
My parents separated when I was very young, a situation that I didn’t understand at all. But I was lucky enough to grow up in the country with my grandparents. I was often alone and learnt how to listen to nature and the animals. My grandfather was a famous hatmaker. When I was a little girl, I would stand on the stage at his shows with the cream of the German acting world; this later inspired me to make the stage my personal forum.
My godfather was a second Alain Delon; I have unforgettable memories of my time with him, and he taught me to break boundaries. Every exciting, thrilling moment or stroke of fate helped me to understand people’s actions; I grasped at a very early age that I needed to forgive in order to be free and to grow inwardly.
My relationship with my environment was a peaceful, positive one. But my ability to understand things so clearly didn’t make my life any easier; it can sometimes be very lonely, despite all that understanding.
Many people that I was close to had to leave this world early. I learnt to accept it and helped them on their way into the next life wherever I could. The experience of breath departing and the soul rising changed me again, and enhanced my awareness.
In 2003 I founded a charity for street children in Afghanistan, funded a children’s and women’s hospital, state children’s homes; we supported many school construction projects for IAWA e.V. and later founded two schools in Berlin. The suffering of people in Afghanistan humbled me and made me more empathetic. Humbleness is very easy to lose in our world, and constantly has to be relearned. The children in our Berlin school had great empathy with what I was doing and supported me for a long time, as well as my friends and my son with HP Adamski, Jog. We were able to help thousands of children in Afghanistan and Nepal. These are just a few of the things that changed me.
What does art mean to you?
Off the top of my head, I actually find it hard to look at art as art. I used to love art so much that I immersed myself in all forms of art from a young age and became a walking encyclopedia. I lived and breathed art; I was surrounded by musicians, photographers and artists. My parents were collectors, and I qualified with an Auction House Certification from Christies in New York. I was a real scout in those days and could always spot the artists that would make it; their lives were so deeply entwined with their creativity, they were entirely taken up with themselves and their inner message, and created universal codes; their works were hugely idiosyncratic, profound, and bloody good!
Who were your favorite artists?
I don’t bother with Old Masters or Impressionists, but some of my hits have been Duchamp, Rothko, Broodthaers, Beuys, the Fluxus movement, Darboven, Hess, Bourgeois, Naumann, Basquiat, the international Junge Wilde movement, and Swiss artists of the 60s and 70s. Until well into the 1990s I never missed a trade show, exhibition, or studio visit.
What happened then?
When art became a form of investment, it lost its aura for me. The art world is a reflection of the age, but offers little in the way of profound messages (although Basel in 2018 has slightly revised this view). I believe that many important artists are outside the market; they are as quiet as they need to be to create good art. I sometimes take refuge in folk art; it’s full of soul and there is good reason why it became a vital inspiration for artists throughout the history of art.
You equate life with music, and help patients with your sound therapy. What kind of people come to you, and what are their problems?
If we were able to take on the shape of a vast ear, we would hear the sound of the universe. The universe was producing sounds long before we were able to hear them. Until living creatures developed the power of hearing, they absorbed their environment through the vibrations of the ground and the plants and the winds. We were given ears as our first sensory organ, as a life-saver. Ears never sleep.
The history of vibration, and later of sound, is proof that healing is supported by vibrations we can feel and by specific sound qualities . The sound of singing bowls or beautiful music has a calming, releasing, and deepening influence. Sounds vibrate through the body and the organs and release tensions caused by events or behaviors. In an initial meeting with my visitors and the following treatment, I can help people to release and forget many things.
My wonderful clients are from all age groups, all kinds of backgrounds and countries, and have many different reasons for visiting me. I have supported seriously ill patients in the past; but most people come for preventative reasons or as a release for stress. People are attracted to my methods and my musical salons.
What is the soundtrack to your life? Which songs or melodies have accompanied you and taken on special meaning to you?
I recently saw the fantastic documentary by Georges Gachot about João Gilberto, and rekindled my deep connection to bossa nova. I was fascinated by the Argentinian tango nuevo, as presented by director Arne Birkenstock and musician Louis Borda. Ella Fitzgerald, the Beatles, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto as played by David Helfgott, Bach and Brahms accompanied my childhood. Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Mediterranean Sundance by Al Di Meola are on permanent loop, followed by outstanding New Age productions. Caruso by Lucio Dalla, Je Suis Malade by Lara Fabian, Arrivera Aurora by Pino Daniele, You Belong Oo Me and No Other Love by Jo Stafford…the list goes on and on, from medieval music and Gregorian chant to pop, rock and world music. It would take a book…
The „The White Cube Art Project“ is about female empowerment. How can we continue our process of emancipation? What else needs to happen?
Many magazine articles take a material view of feminism, showcasing high-earning women from famous families or environments. I think this creates a false picture, and it’s the wrong way to advance female empowerment because many will believe the whole thing is only about glamor and material success. But is it? In Germany, quotas are a big topic, but as your project shows, it’s also about impressive women that may not be working in the public eye, but who are making change happen through their creations.
It’s so important to show the many and varied facets of life and female energy. The whole issue is about so much more than financial success! European women have made enormous strides, even though they’re still expected to be all things to all people! We should be relaxed and open, patient and tactful, as we continue to forge ahead. Women have been terribly abused and mistreated throughout the history of humankind––but this action was an action born of fear, and this fear of women’s strength and power is deeply rooted in human genes. Perhaps the history of the suppression, persecution and destruction of women has galvanized fear of itself. I believe it is a collective historical unease and experience.
We must work together to establish global equality. Too many countries are still home to boundless abuse and suppression of women. They need our solidarity. And if we apply what we have achieved in our emancipation, we may grow through our support for others. Everyone and everything is of equal value. We’re only human, and we need to accept ourselves in this simplicity and equality.
Your ex-husband Victor Adamski is an artist. What role did or does art play in your relationship, your family life?
With HP Adamski, art became the sum total of our lives from 1996 onwards. Music played a big role too; I was still performing and organizing salons and the Salon Festival. We were living like Gertrude Stein in Paris, with artists, collectors and musicians coming and going all the time. The art and Adamski were pretty much the focal point; many people were excited to visit an artist’s home and it was always very lively. When HPA became professor at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, our life filled up with students. When Joa came along he grew up in the Academy and the studio. He just painted along until an art teacher in Berlin gave him a 5 [the lowest grade] in art, and that was it. I gained freedom from art and emerged from my shell, but the relationship became difficult. Artists live with themselves; that was too lonely for me in our relationship. We celebrated our separation over champagne with friends.
What kind of art do you have at home?
I love folk art, so I have a few small pieces by Aborigine, Maori and South American tribal artists. And there are six big Adamskis, as well as drawings by Sigi Anzinger, Marie Luise Lebschik, Elvira Bach, Rosemarie Trockel and three gorgeous pieces by Curtis Anderson. But you’ll also find Hardey, a former assistant to Andy Warhol, Karol Bethke, J. G. Dokoupil, Peter Bömmels, Max Neumann, Klaus Staeck, Leif Trenkler, Gerd Naschberger, Doug Henderson, Jan Kuck, Adamski’s pupils, Levke Anna Leiss and Karla Hecker… I love tracking down art that isn’t destined for the art market. A lot of my pieces were gifts, although not the ones I named; but if I buy something, my decision comes from the heart!