Pulling back the shutters with ‘Frida’

Kronkop made Frida in London, during one of the coronavirus lockdowns. She and her partner moved to the United Kingdom shortly before the world turned upside down.

 ‘FRIDA’ WILL be presented tonight in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: Tal Kronkop)
‘FRIDA’ WILL be presented tonight in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: Tal Kronkop)

There is no sight more Israeli than an older woman opening the slats of her window shutters. Around the country, each morning, afternoon and night, small levers are wielded to let in and shut out the eternal sunshine. When Tal Kronkop filmed her grandmother performing this daily ritual, she had no inkling that it would become the material for her springboard dance film Frida

On Sunday night, Kronkop will present Frida as part of her six-minute-and-forty-second slot in the renowned Pecha Kucha event at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal Hatarbut) in Tel Aviv. 

Kronkop made Frida in London, during one of the coronavirus lockdowns. She and her partner moved to the United Kingdom shortly before the world turned upside down, him to study medicine and her to continue her studies in performance and film.

“I studied at the School of Visual Theatre. Then my partner was accepted to study in London, so we moved. At first, I went to study performance. I understood that my pieces worked best on camera, and that what I was imagining was a camera, not an audience. It was also the feedback I kept getting to my work,” says Kronkop.

“Eventually I found the one degree in dance film and signed up for it. “It’s the back door to film studies, which are very narrative, male and academic. This was an entrance to the history of cinema but with a focus on movement, not just the body but also objects. I had always filmed dancers, but they didn’t usually dance in my works. I was aware of the body and the embodiment of the dancer, but I don’t do complex choreography.”

It is midmorning and, having just landed from London last night, she is still waking up. “I have a little jet-lag, it’s two hours but it turns out those two hours are important.”

Kronkop, 27, is easy to talk to. She will celebrate her 28th birthday at the Pecha Kucha event. She is warm and charming and speaks easily about her transition from field to field, medium to medium. Last year, having revealed Frida as part of the Between Heaven and Earth Festival, Kronkop went from being mostly anonymous to being recognized by some major local and international institutions. “It really taught me the importance of timing in art,” she laughs. “You can make work but the timing in which it is released to the world makes all the difference.”

In London, during the lockdown, Kronkop began to see calls for applications for films made at home.

“I couldn’t imagine filming myself twisting around in my living room. During the lockdown, I couldn’t see my grandmother. She was in Israel, and I was in London, but I had this footage. It was material that never turned into a movie. I filmed her and her window, thinking it would be part of something else, but I knew it was choreography, at least in my eyes.”

Kronkop had long admired her grandmother, and in many ways, it closes a beautiful circuit that their connection offered her first glimpse of recognition. 

“My grandmother is a real Tel Avivian,” she says. “She moved from Syria to Israel on a donkey when she was five. She worked in the Carmel Market as a major designer in the 1960s. When she was 40, she had lots of migraines and pain, so she studied Feldenkrais to treat herself. She became a teacher and from the age of 50 to the age of 90, she taught Feldenkrais. She retired four years ago and misses it dearly. It began a type of Feldenkrais legacy in our family. My aunt is a teacher and I’m also leaning in that direction.” 

When Kronkop sent Frida, which is around two and a half minutes long, to Between Heaven and Earth, the response was immediate. “Between Heaven and Earth is the only call that I applied to. The way they talked about it I felt it was the right place to send this movie. Because of them this movie was made. And then this amazing connection was made with Tami and Ronen Itzhaki. They basically adopted me from these two minutes,” explains Kronkop. 

From there, it went on to be presented at a long list of festivals and even racked up a nice collection of mentions and awards. Then, while Kronkop was visiting Israel “to get vaccinated and married,” as she puts it, she received a surprising email from Anat Safran, co-curator of Pecha Kucha. 

“She said she loved the movie and asked if I wanted to present at Pecha Kucha. I was in shock.”

Kronkop is a longtime fan of the event, which is an international platform that presents artists from a wide range of fields in a highly regimented format. Each person, regardless of their medium, gets exactly six minutes and forty seconds to expose the audience to their work. 

“In 2019, I saw Daniella Meroz at the Pecha Kucha. I wasn’t making this type of work yet, but I saw an example of what could be in what she was doing.” 

Now, Kronkop is in Israel for the Pecha Kucha and will return to Hackney, London, shortly after.

Her presentation will include snippets from previous works as well as a screening of Frida

The Pecha Kucha will take place on November 28 at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium. For more information, visit http://www.pechakuchatlv.com/.