Walking and talking are two of the most basic actions a person can
That said, the combination of these simple activities has led to
many and varied forms of expression, from theater to dance to rap music. For
Austrian choreographer Phillipp Gehmacher, walking and talking are the
foundations of an intricate and personal practice that has been developing over
the past several years.
Gehmacher is currently in Israel for the first
time as a guest of Arkadi Zaides’ Moves Without Borders, an initiative that
brings international artists to the country interact with the local dance
Zaides first saw Gehmacher’s work at a theater in Berlin about
three years ago. He immediately recognized in Gehmacher a potential partner in
the project he was scheming up. “Arkadi invited me shortly afterwards to come to
Israel,” said Gehmacher in a recent interview with The Jerusalem
“He told me that he wanted to bring people that were working
internationally to understand what is going on locally and for locals to
understand what is going on internationally. I was curious about Israel so we
started to discuss the possibility of my teaching and
Gehmacher is the second guest of Zaides’, following the
visit of his collaborator Meg Stuart’s November visit. While in town, Stuart
taught a three-day workshop, hosted a onehour laughter session and performed an
evening of solos at Warehouse 2 in Jaffa. The engagement was a huge success and
managed to engage a wide range of local artists.
visit was meant to precede that of Stuart’s, however, due to the unstable
political situation in Israel last November, he was forced to postpone. “I was a
little unprepared to understand what the situation was really like so I decided
not to go at that specific moment,” he explained.
The extra time to plan
this visit afforded both Gehmacher and Zaides the opportunity to broaden the
scope of his activities while in town. Gehmacher’s time in Israel will touch on
many facets of his current artistic exploration. On Tuesday and Wednesday night,
Gehmacher will perform at the Tmuna Theater in Tel Aviv. For the past several
days, Gehmacher has been busy teaching a workshop of his practice, called
walk+talk, at the Kelim Choreography Program in Bat Yam.
In addition, an
installation of his video creations entitled “From Postures to Gestures to
Objects to Words” is now on display at the Halalit Gallery on Hayarkon
Gehmacher was born and raised in Austria. In 1993, he traveled
west to London where he studied at the Laban Center and the London Contemporary
Dance School. His first choreographies were created during his time in England.
In 1999, Gehmacher returned to Vienna. His works Good Enough and Mountains Are
Mountains quickly won the attention of dance-lovers and
Walk+talk began some five years ago as an experiment. He invited
10 of his peers to take the stage at a Vienna theater. These artists were asked
to talk about their work as choreographers. On the bare stage, the participants
came to life, conveying their thoughts on movement while moving around the
space. The event fired Gehmacher’s imagination, setting him on a path that has
resulted in the creation of a new genre of performance. Gehmacher teaches his
method to professional dancers around the world.
“I’ve taken a tremendous
journey from seemingly being nonverbal and reduced to more
It’s very important for me to communicate now. When you, as
an artist, have a body of work you have a responsibility to that work. When the
work is not easily taken or accepted or seen by an audience you have to take
even more care of the work. The challenge is to continue to share, to
communicate and to take a new step,” he said.
Recently, Gehmacher has
become more and more taken with the notion of performing outside of the theater.
His work has easily transitioned into museum halls, where the pedestrian-style
movement of his performances receives new context.
He often collaborates
with artists from the theater, visual arts and performance fields. In 2007,
Gehmacher joined forces with Meg Stuart to create Maybe Forever, a candid duet
about love lost.
“My favorite thing about performances is the live
moment. I guess my favorite thing and my least favorite is that it is timed.
Even if it’s durational work, it is timed. You have to deal with the attention
you are demanding,” he said.
Phillipp Gehmacher will perform
walk+talk/Lecture Performance at the Tmuna Theater tonightat 8 p.m. For more
information, visit www.tmu-na.org.il.