in their name

18, 19/05 – 20:30
20, 21/05 – 19:00 & 22:00
EN > FR / NL
1h 30min

With a mix of shows, installations and lecture-performances, for over ten years now choreographer Philipp Gehmacher has been undertaking rigorous and sensitive research on the body, in collaboration notably with Meg Stuart and Vladimir Miller. With in their name, he brings his singular language to the stage for the first time since 2007. Natural and industrial materials are spread around the stage, traces perhaps of unfinished building work. The audience is seated on a platform which is not quite in the centre of the space, as if it has been washed up in the middle of the ocean. In this wide open space, life moves in. Bodies surrendered to themselves, vulnerable, alienated, expressing a desire to communicate with each other, with us, with the world. To be completed. Words too, miniature myths, short stories where the anecdote is adorned with universality. Objects, light, sound, gestures, language and costumes interact freely in a world of associations to create a show which is like an enigma open to the spectator. A romantic, profoundly touching odyssey.

Concept & choreography

Philipp Gehmacher

Dance & text

Rémy Héritier, An Kaler, Philipp Gehmacher

Vladimir Miller

Assistance installation 

Stephanie Rauch

Light design

Jan Maertens

Sound design

Andreas Hamza


Stéphanie Zani

Technical director

Karin Haas


Stephanie Leonhardt

Assistance production

Johanetta Warsberg


Reinhard Strobl

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, KVS

Mumbling Fish (Vienna)

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, steirischer herbst festival (Graz), PACT Zollverein (Essen), alkantara festival (Lisbon)

Supported by
Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien, bm:ukk, Österreichisches Kulturforum

Project coproduced by
NXTSTP, with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

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Alongside one another. The choreography of Philipp Gehmacher

Pathos, melancholy and aesthetic strictness: The choreographies of Austrian Philipp Gehmacher describe the body as a painful void that takes leave of itself in dance.
Krassimira Kruschkova on the gestures of the undeliverable.

The attention demanded by Philipp Gehmacher’s choreography really makes the audience sit up as they witness a singular dance stammering into a new stage language. in the absence is the title of Gehmacher’s 1999 solo, one of the first works by this Salzburg-born choreographer who returned to Vienna in 2003 after ten years studying in London and is now considered one of the most eye-catching figures on the international dance scene. in the absence – as if the dancing body were taking leave of itself. The first step has hardly been made, before the body falls to the ground and continually out of the framework of the usual choreographic sequence as well as out of the square stage, purposefully confused and unwaveringly absent. A stranger in his own body, an outstretched arm as a still photograph of itself, stills continually carrying through the choreographic movement. All that is left are the performative remains of absence, the dance gesture of the undeliverable. In Gehmacher’s choreography the exchange economy of representation is broken by undeliverable gestures, made in such a way that they also revoke any given fact. Gestures both too large and too small, marking out the remains of the inexpressible behaving only in a reserved way – if at all. The air of pathos and melancholia tries to come to terms with the incommensurability of the other using extreme aesthetic strictness and as artistic research. Nothing compares 2 you is the title of another Gehmacher solo in 2002 – as if the dancing body captures and holds onto its own voids in the course of a silent desire for the other.

So how much is good enough (2001, 2004 with Raimund Hoghe)? For us? For contemporary dance? The choreographed hands and arms in Gehmacher’s work are incredibly removed, carried so strangely as if burnt to a crisp. Gestures between pathos and stylisation and obliviousness. Pathos of flagrant minimalism. Stylisation that self-ironically refers to Gertrude Stein’s a rose is a rose is a rose, such as in Mountains are Mountains (2003): a staged tautology evoking the remaining senses touching one another, facilitating solely through obstinate repetition and a resolute inability to decide. The melancholic obliviousness of these gestures conjures up dance’s state of emergency, existential and expending – like there’s no tomorrow (2007). Gestures so small that they touch their absence as if they were not even there, as if the choreography were the incubator of a quite different movement, a different moving about. The sudden emergence of the dancers in incubator (2004), who after the long stills suddenly draw diagonals – in all distance and abandonment – attack the others with the tiniest remote gestures. Abandonment that you could call a posture in Gehmacher’s choreographies because his small, choreographed and choreographic gestures stammering out language are also so large that they appear to address issues of love and eternity. May be forever is the title given by Meg Stuart and Philipp Gehmacher in 2007 to their joint, romantically inscrutable work, continued in 2010 by the fault lines in order to draw more confused fault lines and lines of fault, of the measuring, presumptuous, missing touch of the other. the fault lines is also a collaboration with video artist Vladimir Miller, who supports the development of Gehmacher’s work artistically towards choreographic video installations – such as in dead reckoning (2009) and at arm’s length (2010).

In dead reckoning four digital projectors positioned in a square project onto two intersecting screens. The title denotes a method of navigation by measuring the direction of movement, speed and time. Measurement, suspicion, conjecture, 36 minutes long. The video recording is shot beforehand simultaneously by four cameras positioned around the dancers. The projections fragment the simultaneously recorded footage several times, supposedly reconstructing it. The overview is continually redistributed and thwarted. The screens are freestanding in the space and spectators are able to move around this cross-shaped (re)construction, literally transferred. The equipment provides several doubles for the hands, arms and whole figures. Maimed, cut doubles, which – as if by mistake – split themselves further along the two, four, eight screen segments, crossing one another, standing in the way and in view. The bodies get stuck in the space, but in which one? What is hiding in this space, what is stretching out so endlessly in time? A 36-minute loop. What stretches the arm reaching the edge of the projection into the next picture? Choreography and video installation, body and image develop alongside one another. It happens in section in the bottomless, inscrutable immersion and submersion of the figures, in the observation slit between the projection surfaces capturing the observer’s gaze.

“What does this boundary between me and the other mean as a place I’m continually in?” asks the choreographer, including in relation to his next piece in their name that premiered at steirischer herbst in Graz in 2010. Once again the theme of the other and touch is central, even if after video installations Gehmacher is returning to live work with Rémy Héritier and An Kaler. “Our research in the studio is attempting to touch this boundary with the unknown, in order to anchor the expression and presence of new embodiments in the personal.” What appears to split the figures in Gehmacher’s choreography also connects them – if it could actually connect something. Bodies and stories, stories of bodies cast off but not anywhere else, lingering on the edge of their reflection without breaking the glass. Bodies touching the boundaries between them without crossing them, forming these boundaries. Abandoned bodies, at the mercy of touch, in all its immeasurability, unpredictability and hurt, as if they were a phantom pain, a painful nothing quite at the mercy of the other. In at arm’s length the dancers stretch their arms towards one another, feeling, testing along the flat space of their already projected world collaborating in complexity. Only that way – in a CinemaScope‐like installation where the spectator moves along too – do they continue their movement: alongside one another, with, across and through one another. And that’s how Philipp Gehmacher’s choreographies work: in paratactic continuations, each piece touching the distance to the next, rejecting, at arm’s length and in fault lines, existential, pathetic, incompatible, like there’s no tomorrow and at the same time may be forever. Bodies not given and gestures given, calling them, in their name. Touch as devotion and distance to the other which, according to Gehmacher, “should keep hold of nothing”.

First published in herbst. Theorie zur Praxis. Das Magazin zum steirischen herbst 2010
Translation: Claire Tarring

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Philipp Gehmacher (°1975) grew up in Salzburg and Vienna. After ten years in London he returned to Vienna in 2003. The choreographic works in the absence, Holes and Bodies, embroyder, good enough, mountains are mountains, incubator, das überkreuzen beyder hände and like there’s no tomorrow have been initiated by Philipp Gehmacher since 1999 in collaboration with, amongst others, the perfomers David Subal, Clara Cornil, Rémy Héritier, the composer Pedro Gomez-Egana and the pianist Alexander Lonquich, the theorists Peter Stamer and Myriam van Imschoot. In 2007 Gehmacher started working together with Meg Stuart. The result was the performance MAYBE FOREVER, which in 2010 was combined with work by Vladimir Miller in the performance installation the fault lines. In 2008 Philipp Gehmacher curated the series STILL MOVING, within which he introduced the lecture-performance format walk+talk. In 2009 and 2010 Philipp Gehmacher and Vladimir Miller collaborated on the video installations dead reckoning and at arm’s length.

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