my shapes, your words, their grey

    10/05  | 19:00
    11/05  | 19:00
    12/05  | 15:00
    12/05  | 19:00
    13/05  | 19:00

€ 16 / € 13 (-25/65+)

Standing / no seats
Meet the artist after the performance on 11/05
The exhibition is accessible during the day on 10 > 13/05 - 11:00 > 18:00

What is the meaning of a language that only you control? Philipp Gehmacher has been wrestling with this question since his earliest choreographic work. His obsessive search for universal communication takes shape within a quirkily constructed artistic vocabulary in which language, movement, and visual art all form a part. With my shapes, your words, their grey, in the context of WIELS, Gehmacher claims a place for the ‘grey space’ (grauraum). It’s not so much limited by the white space of the visual arts and the black box of the performing arts but is actually liberated from these. Grey, not as a symbol of neutrality, but as an inviting haven for expansion and new relationships. Through movement, words, thoughts, and encounters, Gehmacher carefully detaches his artwork from its primary materiality. Things and people penetrate one another sensitively, thereby forming a new, positive constellation in which, unexpectedly, everything means more. All-embracing and liberating.

Concept, space, objects, performance
Philipp Gehmacher

Assistance space & objects
Susanne Griem, Stephanie Rauch

Gérald Kurdian

Stephanie Leonhardt

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, WIELS

Mumbling Fish

Tanzquartier Wien

Supported by
Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien

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my shapes, your words, their grey has seen several iterations so far. Since its initial presentation as a performance and exhibition in 2013 it has been shown on black box stages, in studio spaces, the white cubes of Modern Art museums or in the regional Kunstverein. Philipp Gehmacher uses the term iteration more readily than variation to describe the presentations of the work as it points for him at a logic of desire of getting closer to understanding the underlying questions of the work. Each iteration incorporates recent findings and developments and produces new objects and thoughts for the work. 

my shapes, your words, their grey is on the one hand a work that speaks about questions of readability and intangibility of any work of art and on the other hand questions the institutional context of its presentation as much as its material actuality. An actuality that could be described as live and performative for Gehmacher’s body and object-like yet also performative for the objects and pieces in the exhibition. Some larger objects are freestanding, some smaller ones are placed, hung low, appear as panels and surfaces. They are however cast bodies, cast vacancies, cast objects. The agency of the monochrome as an almost romantic yet modernist endpoint meets the grey, white and yellow of in fact cast dies; bodies standing, lying and hung.

Those cast pieces, panel-like tableaus, maybe partly paintings (in disguise to paraphrase George Baker) are part object, and perhaps sculpture. Their status produces ambivalence and they might be considered on their way to become something else or indeed on their way out, markers of more to come or meaning left behind. They function, as Gehmacher puts it, as stand-ins or surrogates. The stand-in is presented as a consideration yet almost belief that is always embodied in his physical actions in performance. Embodying his shapes, your and his words, not as a medium but in constant self-doubt of his own agency, visibility and intangibility, his own words and actions, is maybe the one solid pillar of Gehmacher’s work. Where did the shapes and words come from is always the lingering question. 

Gehmacher’s performance and objects, cast or made out of plywood, highlight the multiplicity of meaning generated by bodies live and and as objects in performance. The basic dilemma and productive tension between materiality and event, appearance and semiotic availability, are addressed and rendered fantastic in his simple dream of the grey space – that place where the institution and school of thought of the white cube and the black box hold hands.

Some would define all paintings as objects once they have left the fresco walls or were sold on the market. Some would define all performing bodies as stand-ins, in service of or a prop of the narration and the meaning of the show. Perhaps beside the point yet still of interest a thought, as it is the meaning, and polyvalence perhaps, of these displayed panels-as-objects, that puts light, or shadow, on the performance, these utterances of gesture and words that Philipp Gehmacher makes available when performing in front of his visitors. 

In one of the back rooms at WIELS you will find two video works on two monitors perpendicular to each other titled grauraum 1 and 2. In one of them the figure of Gehmacher enters a corner space, a grey Euclidean proto-space, slowly filling this room with himself and his panels. In the other video his body seems to adjust and re-adjust within this framed point of view of the one camera position he appears as a figure partly negotiation his gestures, his language, whilst lending himself to the pictorial and being seen. Ultimately we are shown two video works looped for approximately 12 minutes, showing a body figuring out its matter, its location to understand its orientation.

It is on the viewers, the visitors, the spectators to roam freely before and after the performance between and amongst the objects that make up this exhibition space. As they are invited to render themselves aware of the spaces in-between themselves and the works that meet their eyes (and bodies), to exercise their own orientation amongst all things said, presented and made available.

Philipp Gemacher, March 2018

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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 absenceHoles and Bodiesembroydergood enoughmountains are mountainsincubatordas 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. In 2013 the work my shapes, your words, their grey appeared, being shown for the first time in two different locations simultaneously: as exhibition in Gehmacher’s studio “grauraum”, and as performance in Halle G at Tanzquartier Wien. By invitation of theatres, festivals and museums, site-specific formats were developed for my shapes, your words, their grey, often including new objects and video works. In January 2018, at the reopening of Tanzquartier Wien, the Concert Talk to me of Mendocino together with the pianist Marino Formenti premiered at Kunsthalle Wien. In April, Gehmacher’s new production It is a balancing act to live without your attention will premiere at Halle G, Tanzquartier Wien.

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