Adelaide Festival 2017 Theatre Review: Portraits in Motion

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 4.27.44 pmVolker Gerling in Portraits in Motion

What: Portraits in Motion

Who: Volker Gerling

Where: Radford Auditorium, Art Gallery of South Australia

When: 9th to 11th March, 14th to 19th March

How Much: Adults $39, Friends $33, Concessions $29, Under 30 $25

The niche and retro photographic flipbook, along with its subjects, are the focus of Volker Gerling’s Portraits in Motion. Armed with a thirst for adventure and meeting new people, Gerling’s encounters with adults, children and architecture are captured, recorded, and projected cinematically onscreen. This adds a magical and filmic quality to his performance as his images come to life.

Walking from Berlin to Switzerland with only a tent, Gerling relied on the kindness of strangers who graciously allowed him to pitch his tent in their gardens, or donated money to see his flipbook “exhibition”. This entire concept might sound implausible and ridiculous, but the moment he shows the audience selfies and portraits of the people he meets on his journeys, any ounce of cynicism goes out the window.

The captivating subjects of Gerling’s flipbooks vary from self-conscious teenagers, to a trio engaging in polyamory. Some are nervous, clearly uncomfortable with the attention. Others are completely uninhibited, obvious when they openly caress one another whilst topless. Possessing the nimble hand movements of a casino croupier, Gerling’s flipbook displays his subjects as pure and majestic, but also flawed and imperfect. His flipbooks of architecture are just as impressive as we see historical buildings stay the same whilst the background changes from day to night. The only issue I have was his flipbook showcasing a men’s urinal and the occupants using it. Whilst this segment earned a lot of laughs from the audience, I felt uneasy.

Urinals aside, Gerling’s show was heartwarming and wholly original. Successfully capturing the vulnerability and emotions of his subjects, Gerling’s show is a masterful study of the human spirit, and I look forward to seeing his next collection of portraits.

3 out of 5 stars

Masya Zabidi

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