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Anat Eisenberg & Mirko Winkel, Life and Strive

Lise Smith

In recent years, the definition of choreography has grown far beyond the traditional connotation of “movement set harmoniously to music” to include improvisation, non-theatrical settings, viewer participation and the inclusion into the canon of choreography of works that contain not only little trained dance but little in the way of movement at all.

With Life and Strive Anat Eisenberg & Mirko Winkel push the boundaries of this definition yet further by centring their entire performance around an extended unplanned improvisation by the audience themselves, a participatory “happening” at one of Istanbul’s exclusive new gated communities. The set-up is simple: the small audience group is informed at the beginning of the performance that we are off to a sales meeting with an agent at one of these new residential blocks. We are invited to take on the identity of a genuine prospective buyer, thinking up a suitable backstory for our investment purchase, and off we go to our appointment.

The rare and unfamiliar experience of visiting one of these new blocks, strangely isolated from the world outside and exclusive in every sense, was certainly a new and interesting one – but what of the choreography? A generous reading would probably call this a totally immersive and inclusive performance, generous to its participants in allowing them this elite experience. Another reading would equally probably be, “What choreography?” It’s hard to say exactly what Eisenberg and Winkel actually created, in craft terms at least.

I would have liked there to be some surprise (beyond the initial surprise of being told I was about to attend a sales appointment at an apartment I’m not rich enough to even dream of owning); some further engagement, some reflection on the experience from the artists. An interesting experience, then, but ultimately an empty one.

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