World Stage 2016 continues its current season with the interesting and poignant Portraits in Motion, with four performances running until April 16th at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre.
Having walked over 3,500 kilometres through Germany into Switzerland, photographer Volker Gerling took photographs of people he met during his wanderings, creating a travelling “thumb cinema” exhibition — portraits in the form of photographic flipbooks. In this storytelling performance, part lecture and part travelogue, we are introduced to these people through Gerling’s flipbooks.
Gerling uses a Nikon camera to photograph every person and place seen in his flipbooks. He kindly asks people if he can take their portrait without telling them he’ll be taking photos for 12 seconds straight. The result is a series of candid and personal images that give us a glimpse into the individuals’ personalities.
As he thumbs through the small books, describing his encounters and sharing his curiosity about people and places, the portraits are projected on a large screen revealing several seconds of vibrant humanity. From his descriptions, Gerling comes across as quite personable and friendly. He has a gentle demeanor which helps in getting people to feel comfortably at ease with him. What is evident in every image is that people were not posed nor staged. The essence of each person comes across in each of the image, which in fact is the essence of Gerling’s works, as he goes on to describe.
Using a video camera, he creates a showthat combines both the contemporary as well as older forms of cinematic spectatorship. Gerling makes the audience aware of how the images in his flipbooks create power and poetry, as the gaps in between each image is longer than in regular film. This is also evident in the images of buildings and places that he’s used to create other flipbooks. It’s as if “time is stretched.” In Gerling’s words, this is the “true face of time.”
The entire perfomance is very engaging. It is intimate, full of thoughtful insights, and philosophy about people and life. What I found most enjoyable was the sense of being in community through Gerling’s storytelling; as well as, the feeling that I became to know the people in the images in each flipbook. Portraits In Motion also gives us an intimate look into Gerling as a person and an artist. The experience is quite memorable.
PORTAITS IN MOTION
by Volker Gerling
Runs until Saturday, April 16, 2016
Harbourfront Centre Theatre
All performances at 8PM
Tickets: $15 – $24
Tickets: online or by phone 416-973-4000