Willi Dorner

This talk was AWESOME, although I have to say that my opinion was highly influenced by being a climber and sitting next to another rather excited climber. I think we both liked the fact that Willi said increasingly he was using climbers and parkour people along with conventional dancers.  I am so glad KvV booked spaces for me as this event was sold out! - HG

I am mildly conscious of the fact that I may be slightly misappropriating Willi's artistic intention in favour of my own, but I think this is fantastic because I am tired of urban spaces dictating to the user how they should be occupied. Surely if this is our habitat, it should be shaped by us, rather than it shaping our behaviour. As a climber, I think I see the city very differently - I see positions and places that we could be, and pathways, ways of moving through and occupying space that exist on a three-dimensional level, instead of being restricted to a two-dimensional plane. I think that some of his installations highlight that three-dimensional space. - LW

Willi discussed two of his projects:

Anywhere Somewhere Everywhere
A little hard to explain, but essentially there is one performer and one audience member. The audience member is given a mobile phone with some guiding instructions on it, and is lead through the city by the performer, or 'shadow' who communicates intermittently with the audience member. They are typically lead through disused spaces of the city. The performance takes about one hour.

Bodies in Urban Spaces
A group of audience members is lead through the city. There are about 20 performers, who run ahead of the group and 'install' themselves in various places, making visible the gaps in the urban fabric. Willi said he likes to lead people through a range of neighbourhoods, and perhaps ones that people might not usually go to. The performance often picks up a lot of people along the way, at one point they had about a thousand people following them in London, causing traffic to stop and such. The also have to rehearse in the actual places they will be performing in, and this also typically collects an impromptu audience.

I recommend viewing the photos before viewing the video below, as the stillness is important in the understanding of the performance. The performers usually stay in one place and position for about 3-4 minutes. Apparently people are often irritated by the stillness of the performers and sometimes touch them because they do not believe they are real!

See here for photos from Willi's website (scroll down to 'bodies in urban spaces') and here for a Guardian album.

Below is a video that Willi showed us at the end of his talk from a performance at the Philly Fringe festival.

AJH, do you have anything to add?


AJH said...

I think you explained most of it. I was impressed by the performance of both getting into these positions and getting out of them, the performers seem very elegant.

With the Anywhere, Somewhere, Everywhere, Willi also mentioned that he tries to gain access to private spaces for this city tour, and if access is not given then he posts images and/or video footage on the mobile phone for the person to experience. I though this was very nice as sometimes the city spaces you want to see (inside of an award winning home, the 11th level of council house?) are not accessible at all or very often.

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