Gert Weigelt // Absolutely Pina
The exhibition of the dancer and photographer Gert Weigelt shows a selection of spectacles by Pina Bausch and the Wuppertal Dance Theatre presented in photographic sequences, collages and video compilations.
Gert Weigelt says about the exhibition:
‘I have accompanied the Wuppertal Dance Theatre ever since the memorable watershed spectacle Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) in 1975. Since then, I have photographed every single play – as Pina herself called her productions – with the original cast. There have been 38 in total.
Naturally, it is not possible to present the life work of this outstanding choreographer comprehensively within a single exhibition. All I could do was to provide a glimpse of her work. Instead of attempting to produce a documentary – a futile endeavour and bound to fail – I have opted to rely entirely on photography’s quite different forte – that is to say, its artistic autonomy.
My aim was to capture the entire choreography of a given play in a single shot. Almost a utopian venture, but certainly necessary if I wanted to meet my self-imposed standards, and I had set the bar high.
Above all, I set out to monitor the reception of single, independent images juxtaposed with the impact of group scenes. I employed sequences of single-subject frames as opposed to group ones. Through deliberate combinations of single photographs quite new relationships arise, both formal and emotional. Photography teaches us how to look and, as an absolutely autonomous medium, it probably contributes to a new, more intense, fresher way of experiencing each of Pina’s stage appearances.
Now that she is no more here, now that she is no longer in charge of everything that takes place on the stage, the question of authenticity arises. However, the presented photographs leave no room for any doubt. The spirit of the great choreographer rises above them all. They are all profoundly saturated with the personality of the great artist. Absolutely Pina!’
Started his professional life as a dancer. He had a classical education and – while dancing with the Swedish Royal Ballet, the Birgit Cullberg Ballet and the Danish Theatre – had the opportunity to work with outstanding choreographers, such as: Hans van Manen, Jerome Robbins, Jiri Kylian, Kurt Jooss, Glen Tetley and Birgit Cullberg. After quitting dancing, he studied photography in Cologne. He remained loyal to dance. Very soon he became renowned as a dance photographer. His artistic work contributed to the popularisation of the-then taking shape dance theatre. Since the mid-70s, he has practically become its chronicler, documenting the work of: Pina Bausch, Hans van Manen, Susanne Linke, William Forsythe, Gerard Bohner and many others. Apart from journalistic activity, he has given prominence to portrait and staged photography of the body. He has produced six short dance videos for TV, which have won applause and distinctions at festivals.
© Gert Weigelt