Climbing up the wall

‘Wallflower’ is Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak’s first dance performance work produced for a museum setting.

Wallflower. (photo credit: ASSAF ASHKENAZI)
(photo credit: ASSAF ASHKENAZI)
The term “wallflower” usually is used to describe a person who stays clear of the center of the action. Perhaps this individual prefers to observe rather than participate or perhaps shyness creates an insurmountable emotional barrier. While many may see this kind of person as meek or mousy, Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollack made the wallflower their mascot.
Over the summer, the creative duo presented Wallflower, a full-length work housed in the sculpture gallery of the Tel Aviv Museum.
“A wallflower is someone who stays close to the walls, who leans on them,” explained Pinto in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post. “We used the walls a lot in this pieces. The word ‘wallflower’ has such a different meaning in a gallery. It’s like a work of art hung on the wall.”
In the months since the work’s July premier, Wallflower has been to Japan and back, and was recently named the best dance performance of 2014 by the Critic’s Circle.
Next week, Wallflower will return to Tel Aviv for nine performances only.
The work is the result of a collaboration with several artists including composer and musician Umitaro Abe, musicians Hirofumi Nakamora and Mayu Gonto and lighting designer Joann Tivoli. Pinto and Pollack met Abe, Nakamora and Gonto last year while directing a production of the musical The Cat Who Lived A Million Times in Japan.
Before returning to Israel, Pinto and Pollack made plans to invite the three musicians to collaborate on a project in Israel. All three traveled to Tel Aviv for the July premier, which was performed to live music. This week they will return to Israel for the second round of Wallflower performances.
Pinto and Pollack have created works in unconventional spaces before, however, this is their first foray into the museum. The gallery space, which functions as a stage in this case, is comprised of two white walls and an expanse of floor.
“Creating this work in the museum really affected the choices we made throughout the process,” said Pinto. “The environment and the use of space are different from what we are used to.”
In the past, Pinto and Pollack have begun creative processes with an image in mind, a photo, painting or object. Here, allowing the space to inform the project, they found themselves at the precipice of something completely foreign.
“I don’t usually remember where we started from but with this piece I do because it was so different from our previous processes.
There’s something in the piece that is like research in a laboratory,” said Pinto.
“The elements of the work are stripped down. We started from zero from a place that we didn’t know ourselves. We wanted to work like artists work, breaking down, kneading, constructing and polishing the materials, which in our case is the body.
We broke down the body and rebuilt it.
We looked at how two bodies can connect and become one, how this connection can create an entire universe in which you don’t know where one starts and the other ends.”
Of all of the company’s works, Wallflower is by far the most abstract. Viewers who are accustomed to seeing Pinto and Pollack present classroom antics or circus vignettes will find a much less linear narrative in Wallflower. This is a result of Pinto and Pollack’s desire to push forward and to find new ways to create.
“To go into the unknown is always scary,” said Pinto. “But it’s adventurous. If you go to a new place you can go with or without a map. Without a map is more thrilling but its also more dangerous. We are trying, throughout each process, to learn and not to teach. We want to pave the way as we go, without knowing where we are going.
We give ourselves challenges but we don’t know if we’ll be able to handle them. We start a work and we hope that in the end we will get to an understanding that will be interesting to us and to others.”
The award from the Critics’ Circle was a nice pat on the back for everyone involved.
“We are incredibly flattered by this recognition,” said Pinto shyly. “When we create we are our own worst critics. When someone else reviews your work in a positive light, it’s very rewarding. It says that you are doing something right.”
The past year has been a busy one for Pinto and Pollack. In addition to working on Wallflower, the duo has successfully juggled rehearsing and performing Dust and Oyster, directing a series of commercials for Superpharm and touring internationally.
Following these performances, Pinto and Pollack will return to the studio to begin a new work.
“Right now, everything is completely open. We haven’t made any decisions about it yet. Sometimes the sculpture is hiding in the rock and you just have to find it.”
Wallflower will be presented at the Tel Aviv Museum on February 19-21 and February 23-28. For more information, visit