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Posts tagged ‘Mirko Winkel’

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.

Anat Eisenberg and Mirko Winkel – Life and Strive

Maxime Fleuriot

Life and Strive is not a play nor a performance. It’s an orginal artistic proposition made by two young artists Anat Eisenberg and Mirko Winkel for a limited group of people (around 15 persons). The public meet the two artists on the top floor of a luxury hotel in the center of Istanbul. There, in front of the city view, the two artists explain their project : they show the biggest tower of the city to the audience, a residential project which construction is about to be completed. They invite the public to visit the apartements, pretending they are interested in buying one. And so it goes. Divided in two small groups, the members of the public are brought there in a van an soon go through a visit of apartments which they will never be able to afford (the prices range between 1.2 million dollars and seven million). Everything here is big and made for the richest : the view is breathtaking, the apartments are huge ; a golf, a swimming pool and a supermarket are under construction. What makes many people dream of discloses many terryfying aspects : the tower has everything of a golden cage. The view is breathtaking but no one can open a window ! What is interesting in this situation is that the members of the public are pretending. This self distance increases the feeling one has that everything that is seen and heard in this building project is fake (the building, the salesmen…). Unfortunately it is not. The role of the artists in Life and Strive is quite limited : they put the public in a situation they just chose. Difficult to call that a piece or a performance. But the content of it is interesting enough to be worth it.

Failing the invisible theatre

Iulia Popovici

Istanbul Sapphire is a residential building in the heart of the city’s business area. A block of flats. It’s high – “the highest residential building in Turkey and in the whole Europe” (it has 54 floors), covered in glass, remarkably ugly and equally expensive. It’s a future gated community, where the owners will have exclusive access. Only potential buyers are allowed inside, to visit some of the common areas, the furnished model apartment on the 33rd floor and the terrace on the top of the building. So two artists – Anat Eisenberg and Mirko Winkel, both living and working mainly in Germany – decided that the audience to their newest project, Live and Strive, should assume the role of potential buyers in order to have access to Istanbul Sapphire – and a number of other upper class residential projects, as a matter of fact.

The real-estate agent doesn’t know who these seven (eight?) people are. We know the situation is not genuine, we know we are performing roles. It could be the ideal condition for a performance of invisible theatre (a form of socially-engaged theatre developed by the late Augusto Boal, meant to emulate reality in order to raise consciousness towards social inequities) except for the fact that the participants are not professional actors, there is no script and no consciousness involved. (But yes, there was a moral/ ethical issue: why misleading the otherwise honest real-estate agent? Just to expose the secret life of rich people?) Even if the potential of the theme is quite generous: living in a building like Istanbul Sapphire resembles to waking up, every day, in a jar (a 1.2 to 7.3 million dollars per apartment jar), with the perspective of never leaving it, going in your slippers 30 floors downstairs in order to spend your evening in front of a TV with other several bored nouveaux riches and socializing with the guy bringing you the food ordered from the restaurant some other 30 floors below. The newest technology and a pointless existence – in his movies, Jacques Tati described it better than anyone else.

If the text you’ve just read looks more like a society column in a more or less socialist-liberal newspaper, it’s because the Live and Strive experience of the author herself was least of all a performative one. But maybe ethical challenges are part of everybody’s personal dramaturgy of the self.