Upon invitation of Philipp Gehmacher and Tanznacht Berlin 2017.
by Philipp Gehmacher, February 2013
walk+talk, a few facts
Upon the invitation by Tanzquartier Wien to curate a series of events, Philipp Gehmacher conceived of the lecture performance walk+talk in March 2008. Initially ten choreographers were asked to each engage in the concept for five consecutive nights, two artists a night. The intention was to create a lecture performance that made the moving and talking run parallel. The topic of all lecture performances was the artists’ concepts and understanding of their body-in-motion, the verbalisation of their thoughts on their movement research as such.
Each invited artist prepared on their own and was invited to stay in Vienna to witness all other walk+talks. Each day all participants were invited to a round table discussion for two hours, which provided a moment of exchange amongst the participants. Each walk+talk was recorded and projected the following day in addition to all previous ones.
In March 2011 another series of ten choreographers was invited to engage in the idea of walk+talk and another five double bills were curated for Kaaitheater in Brussels. Again there was a round table meeting each day, again everybody prepared on their own. Again the topic was one’s own movement history and its inherent concepts and articulation. Additionally to the Vienna series there was a group of students engaged in a lab on documentation throughout the week.
For both series the visual artist Alexander Schellow and the choreographer Philipp Gehmacher devised a performance space and all other spaces of the respective institutions. A uniform performance space was created that would stay the same for all participants. Scenographic, audio and video interventions were used to subtly highlight the spectator’s and listener’s perception of the performance as much as the difference of each artist’s aesthetic.
walk+talk, a few thoughts
The proposal for a different lecture performance format was partly a reaction to listening to theorists discussing choreographers’ works and physicality. The desire was to hear and listen to choreographers voicing their thoughts on movement, not to put the theory back into their mouths, yet to highlight the complexity of thought that goes into articulating one’s body and especially that body put into motion. In addition to hearing artists speak, the interest was to create a performance setting that would have the fragility and urgency of the now, and thus be less stable than the mere presentation of performances as an aesthetic artefact. The attempt of saying ‘I’ was paramount. The serial nature of each festival of ten walk+talks unfolding established a landscape of ten temporary ‘I’s.
walk+talk is intended as a format neither fully written nor improvised yet a wander along a score that needs to be instantiated to create presence. It represents the attempt of ‘throwing’ yourself in front ‘your’ audience, letting your thinking and knowledge be entangled with your body moving whilst aiming for clarity and information. Speaking and the gesture of utterance, the complexity of verbal language as such, runs parallel to the doing, which might not always be a performing.
walk+talk is an imperative to find not just visibility yet to become audible. The place of declaration is the public stage, not the dance studio, the rehearsal process or the lecture room. walk+talk is the performance of a singular author where the audience witnesses the attempts to speak about and on individual understandings of movement, to maybe even let them become a manifesto.
walk+talk, a few documents
“walk marks the time that passes, the time needed by movement to unfurl itself. talk stands for the assertion, announcement or speaking out, as well as for the complexity of voicing the truths that constitutes one, that one embodies, truths that both gain and lose meaning in their being expressed.”
(Philipp Gehmacher, excerpt programme note walk+talk, Tanzquartier Wien, arch 2008)
“Still dealing with movement, more specifically with bodies or physicalities set in motion, I am interested how movement becomes manifest. I am interested in physicality being set in motion through an individual understanding of what choreographic structuring could be all about. I am curious about how an understanding of bodily existence – socially, biologically, etc. – is understood and set in motion. So, in a way, the focus is not on the representation of the body as such, but on one’s own understanding of that representation, put into movement. Which movement languages appear and what kind of choreographic shaping has taken place as soon as we take the first step and movement occurs, or perhaps even space.
Where will dance go or where is it now? What is choreographed physicality at the present time, and what will it be in the near future? I am still interested in artists who manage to put their bodies into their ideas of movement, and create movement, knowing that this is based on an understanding of, not just time and space, but also of concepts of and about physical human (or maybe non-human) existence. My understanding of what movement is should be visible in the way I decide to be when I dance. And then it is about this shaping, about articulation, the formalising, yielding content. Among many other things.
walk+talk is a practice and method for doing and sharing in a public context as much as a practice that says something about one’s practice. It is sometimes less about description and explanation than about the desire to speak becoming a gesture itself, a gesture of utterance running parallel to the movement. Maybe different forms of speech will appear, and some things will be better left unnamed.”
(Philipp Gehmacher, programme note walk+talk, Kaaistudio’s Brussels, March 2011)
Video and Context
Review Impulstanz/Mumok 2017