dance community picture berlin 2006

17 DECEMBER 2006
A SARMA project, in the framework of B-Chronicles

click on the picture to zoom in.
photo : David Bergé after a concept of Myriam Van Imschoot
Are in the photo: Franz Lohrengel (dance photographer), Ambra Pittoni (dancer, choreographer), Xenia Wiest (Staatsballett Berlin), Susanne Foellmer (dramaturg, dance theoretician), Anja Weber (interdisciplinary freelancer), Hermann Heisig (dancer, performer), Davide Sportelli (dancer, performer), Chat Linder (artist, choreographer), Woudi Ensie (tourist), Nathan Fuhr (no function specified), Barbara Friedrickx (TanzRaumBerlin), Jeroen Peeters (freelance dramaturg, critic, performer, teacher), Beck Hans (spectator), Keil Sigrid (standby), Peter Pleyer (no function specified), Cobie Orger (contributor, supporter, dancer, director), Koen De Preter (dancer Sasha Waltz), André Thériault (Festival Veranstalter), Martin Nachbar (choreographer), Ulrike Bodammer (dancer), Frank Willems (dancer), Meg Stuart (choreographer), Sheri Togan-Willems (Frank’s mother), Jenny Haade (artist), Paula E. Paul (choreographer, dancer), Christopher Langers (no function specified), Bart Van Den Els (tourist), Christine Peterges (tourmanager), Sabine Panossian (no function specified), Nathalie Nienkemper (dancer), Gabriel Galindez Cruz (dancer), Els De Bodt (programmer), John Zwaenepoel (manager), Ulrike Becker (programmer, producer), Jean-Marc Adolphe (chief editor Mouvement), Madeline Ritter (organiser), Bettina Masuch (programmer, dramaturg), Karin Kirchhof (organiser), Uwe Kästner (producer), Salvana Sudrez Cedeno (choreographer, Two Fish, performer), Liliane Schaus (director).

Message to the people of the Dance Community in Berlin

By way of this black-and-white advertisement in the publications Tanzraum and the brochure of Made in Berlin 2006 people were welcomed to come to a collective one time photo shoot that would represent the Berlin dance community on that day. « Function, nationality, dress code or age » did not matter, the advertisement said. As long as the person considered him or herself to be « part of the dance community of Berlin », he or she was welcome to join the photo shoot. Thus, the Community Picture Berlin, a project by Myriam Van Imschoot in collaboration with David Bergé, entered for the first time the public sphere  in the form of a rather anonymous advertisement. The more zealous readers who wanted to know more could surf to Sarma’s website and find out that Sarma was engaged in a research project on mobilities, investigating the impact of displacements on the formation of selves, artistic identities and communities. And that was that.

What is a community picture ?

Who would come to a photo shoot announced in such a manner - outgoing and oblique at the same time ? Who would feel addressed ? Was there such a thing as a dance community in the first place, and if there were one, was it representable at all ? For sure, a collective photo shoot would portray a crowd of people, but would it also pass as the representation of a community ? Whereas in the tradtion of photography the group portrait is a well-established genre, the ‘community picture’ is not an existing genre. It may be because in contrast to any finite group of people, the ‘community’ is always already a category that is infused with the phantasmagorical. One can capture people in one’s lense, but the strands of ideology that make people adhere to certain formations and make those into ‘communities’ are much harder to seize.

What makes a community ? With Jean-Luc Nancy one could say : « communauté inavouable parce que trop nombreuse mais aussi parce qu’elle ne se connaît pas elle-même, et n’a pas à se connaître. » It is precisely these paradoxes at the verge of impossibility that the project Community Picture seeks to embrace. After a concept of dramaturge, curator and writer Myriam Van Imschoot it seeks to investigate how the notion of ‘community’ operates and manifests itself in a specific context by way of people’s response to an open invitation. It does not celebrate the community nor does it affirm it uncritically ; rather it offers a frame to see what identifications and disidentifications operate in and around such a notion. Driven by curiosity and wonder, within the tradition of frivolous science and research methods, it boldy seeks to represent an ‘unrepresentable’.

For the first series of the Community Pictures it was decided to focus on ‘dance communities’, with photo shoots in Cairo (12 December 2006) and Berlin (17 December 2006) and plans for subsequent shoots in New York and Vienna. Especially in cities like Berlin and Vienna the notion of dance community has gained a strong operational force as the segment of independent artistis have been expanding significantly over the course of the 1990s. The dance community pictures serves as a just one instrument to look for what is symptomatic and emblematic in these fields.

That day - the 17th of December ; the location, the team

The photo (at the right) shows the huge 25 meter banner that spanned the façade of the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz on 17 December 2006. It was painted by Myriam Van Imschoot and David Bergé, the photographer who helped realizing and developing the Berlin dance community picture. Much to their suprise the terrain were the photo shoot was to take place, a sand square next to the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, was unavailable because the city had started to plant trees just a couple of days before . It was then decided to move to the public square on the other side of the theater, right in front of what is called ‘the white pavilion’.

The team who helped to prepare the terrain and welcome the people was a mixture of volunteers, friends and affiliates from Sarma and the Volksbühne. The slideshow (at the right) wants to pay tribute to these helpers by showing them during the preparations. The full credits are also included at the bottom of this page.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Clint Lutes (MC) entertaining the Berlin community members during a battery problem of the photographer

Who came ?

An open invitation in the form of an advertisement, a date and a place of rendez-vous. Yet, the the burning question until the last moment was « how many people would finally appear ? ». Having communicated mainly through mass media announcements and flyers, the organizers were left to speculation and prognosis : 5, 50 or 500 ? At 15 :30 it turned out that 53 people featured in the photo shoot. Many of this temporary constellation came from other countries, some happened to be in Berlin for one of the events that were organised in that period (Made in Berlin, Tanznacht and the festival Intimate Strangers, with the Sarma-event Alien Resident), and two girls were mere passersby who wanted to be ‘in there’. They all registered and received in turn glühwein and a sticker with the label ‘self-alleged member of the Berlin dance community, 17 December 2006’.

A comparison with the Dance Community Picture Cairo 2006

Only five days earlier a Dance Community Picture was held in Cairo. This was a primer and the first in the series. The most remarkable difference between the two events so close in time is not so much that in Cairo tea was served rather than glühwein, but the chosen communication strategy. The hosting organizer in Cairo, Adham Hafez (from the dance organisation HaRaKa), preferred personal and direct announcements to the more ‘public’ anonymous advertisements of the Berlin counterpart, because he doubted that his colleagues would respond to an invitation if it was not affiliated directly with a person or institution. While this might influence certain people to come or abstain from coming, this partiality was still a better option than to step outside a clearly socialized network and its internal operations. Moreover, it enabled Hafez to collect many reactions that his invitation to the photo shoot engendered.

The need for anchorage in reliable and identifiable people or organisations motivated also the choice for the location of the Cairo photo shoot : the roof of the Contemporary Image Collective. Social control, policing and the natural hectic turmoil of a much-populated capital city, make artists look for lieus that ensure a fluent gathering rather than they would use public spaces, where gatherings could be misperceived as demonstrations or other political action. In Egypt culture still is subject to a strong state control and even censorship.

Considered together, the two events in Cairo and Berlin, touch upon questions of communication styles, anonymity versus personal contact, mass media versus parallel information substrata, use of public space and institutional ‘reservats’, difference in organisational cultures, cultural politics,etc.

After a concept of Myriam Van Imschoot the Community Picture Series is realized in collaboration with local photographers and hosts. David Bergé was the photographer and co-organiser in Berlin. Production: Sarma and Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. Co-production: Damaged Goods, Kunst/Werk. Lay-out advertisement: Katrin Schoof. Helpers ‘sur place’: Alexandra Engel, Philip Hochleiter, Ula Lisson, Clint Lutes, Jeroen Pede, Charlotte Vandevyver, Frederik Le Roy, Delphine Hesters, Min Kyoung Lee, Valentina Desideri, Marko Milic, 2 volunteers of Volksbuehne. Special thanks to: Tanznacht, ZtB and Tanzraum for the distribution of the advertisement.

Duration of the shoot: 60 min
Weather forecast: cold & cloudy
Extra facilities: glühwein
Pronostics: 300 stickers printed

More information on The Community Picture Series
More information on Dance Community Picture Cairo 13 December 2006
More information on Dance Community Picture New York 23 September 2007

click on the pictures for a full-screen slideshow.

back | home