Empty shop locations, an empty room, a hall, or an empty apartment, hold for me a special attraction.
Empty rooms are like the blank sheet of paper to the writer, an empty stage for actors, air for the poet, the earth for the potter or sculptor; As yet without form, the beginning of everything. Or silence for the musician, before the first note, the tone, the sound, which is perhaps already there. Everything still is, or appears to be possible. Am I able to capture the presence of this empty space, within myself? To what extent is it possible to keep this space in a condition free from any activity which does not present itself as an absolute necessity.
Going - a minimal act as a symbol of permanent beginning. Going - a clear and transparent tank to contain the "implosion" of the arts into the essence of beginning. Going - at the intersection of the arts (1997). Why "art"? What is "art"?
Going or walking is carried out simply, step for step in slow motion and with concentration, exhalation by exhalation. The new project, 45-minutes walking, is performed naked.
The nakedness of the empty space correlates to and paradoxically contrasts with the nakedness and vulnerability of the body. In nakedness, the sexuality of the body is laid open. Sexual energy is the fundamental driving force for everything that the body is able to create out of itself - the spoken word, voice, movement, breathing, pure presence. In an empty room it is of interest to observe how pure sexual energy behaves between two persons and in a group situation.
Walking with concentration involves global body-energy which includes the sexual energy. Either immediately or at some point, this energy becomes engaged. When this happens it is not given any special attention nor is it ignored, but by means of the forward body movement and breathing, it is able to be kept in flow. Emanating from the sexual centre, it is possible for it to expand through the entire body and throughout the room. Something like an energy-sculpture may then come into being.
A moderate variant of naked walking is that of several persons in a clearly demarcated walking space. From this constellation, evolves, of itself, a poetic and energy-charged minimal-choreography.
The most intense form of naked walking is, the simultaneous approach of two naked persons. The open eye-contact and simultaneous forward slow-motion, creates an energy-cycle. This now freed energy circulates primarily as a very personal experience.
It does not depend on gender constellations. Whether woman/man, man/man or woman/woman is irrelevant, as in both the man and the woman, the male/female principle is embodied.
The structure of walking is a corset and is also a form of protection. It is a means of focusing the energy created. It throws anyone and everyone, with all existing wishes, desires, erotic thoughts, longings, but also insecurities, dislikes, fears and lies, mercilessly back on themselves. This facilitates the neutralization of all these private affairs, be they remnants of old behavioural patterns for the one person, or insurmountable obstacles for the other. When this neutralization occurs, the true faces of the two persons approaching each other, appear from behind the masks. True essence is revealed.
A prerequisite for the realization of the energy-sculpture is the elimination of all preconceived aesthetic viewpoints. Each and every body is filled with energy and is therefore erotic for anyone who can perceive openly and neutrally. Each body is beautiful when it is authentic. Beautiful is that which is true.
It is not the first time that I have brought to the heart of a project, a structure which can as well be employed as an exercise for dancers actors and performers. The human body in empty space, subjected to the time factor, is sufficient. The pure action will suffice. Away with inflatedness, away with all forms of mystification, away with any kind of representation. What the human body is capable of bringing forth out of its own resources, without the aid of music, materials and media, enables us to go further. (Endgame-Theatre, 1997). Furthermore, I call for the elimination of the divisions between image and viewer, stage and auditorium, performers and spectators.(Performance and Ritual Theatre, 1999).
When I take a look at the recent developments in the arts, within the relevant areas where I can recognise some "softening" of the "divisions" (stage/auditorium etc.) I notice a pleasant increase in imaginative interactive projects. However, these rarely offer more than an original idea or a "happening." Regarding dance and performance, the result is not better although I find examples of great precision of movement and action which is lacking in the interactive art projects. The performance can touch me, but the "divisions" remain. In a few cases they are investigated.
I have always had great difficulty in accepting, and usually being obliged to pay for, the role assigned to me as a spectator in conventional theatre productions. I would wish for all this display of potential to be invested in an interactive practice and interactive projects.
There are some bright spots. I remember one which is not so far back- an artwork of Tino Seghal, titled "Kiss"(2002). He allowed it to be shown for a second time in 2006, for the Kunsthaus Bregenz. It featured two naked persons slowly moving around each other in semi-darkness -on the ground and then again half-standing - in the centre of a great art-cube. They performed for 4 hours during half of the gallery's open hours, and were then replaced by another two performers for the 4 remaining hours. The precision of the movement was impressive. I found here, everything which ultimately concerns me. The nakedness of the empty room, the nakedness of the human body in empty space and naked sexuality, at least in its suggestion, and this, open to the public. The "divisions" were addressed, as the room was open to the visitors who were free to remain at a distance or to come closer and move together with the performers
The "divisions," within the context of the whole exhibition, had almost vanished.
One floor higher, there were, for example, only people in the room. 5 persons interacted with each other, on the basis of a given artist's structure employing words and sentences also involving the visitors. On the next floor, a group of children with an adult, began dancing in a circle whenever a visitor entered the room. I found this exhibition in it's entirety, convincing.
The German-born artist, Tino Seghal, has succeeded in bringing the human body within the context of a conventional art gallery structure. In the entire gallery there were only people present -no materials, no objects, no music, no media. Tino Seghal even appears to be able to dismiss with the usual need for documentation. As an artist, I am challenged on this level.
The 5th series of the 24 x 45 minutes walking, is primarily defined as a discreet and tranquil project. Its concern is the focusing of detail. The administrative areas are neglected, the organisation costs, kept to a minimum. This project will continue for over a year and stands in correlation to its parallel event, city walks. When the opportunity arises or when a particular situation takes precedence, then the 45 -minute naked walking event will be integrated within a city walk.
If there is a possibility to hold a naked walking performance at a festival or in an art-house or art gallery, the context will be looked into and the challenge taken. For an event, open to the public, many requirements have to be met, The performance must take place inconspicuously, casually, as if naked walking were as normal as walking by, carrying a shopping-bag. The 45 -minute naked walking will be in the context of a project of withdrawn character, primarily performed in an empty room, an empty apartment, a gymnastic hall or in the open country, and on exception, in an empty store or shop.
Thomas Zollinger, march 2008
Going - at the intersection of the Arts
Endgame-Theatre (in German)
Performance and Ritual Theater (in German)
Tantra Ritual Theater (in German)
24 x 45 minutes walking 1st series