2000 Exploring the rhythm of the body
Five questions for Walli Höfinger
Interview with Sabine Graf for the catalogue of the Media Art Exhibition 2000
1 Which language does the body speak?
The body speaks as many languages as there are people and cultures. In my work I focus on currents, subtle inner movements which are always there, though we are not aware of them in our daily consciousness. In my work I try to feel these impulses, to follow, amplify and externalize them. This is the center of my work.
2 If something like a language of the body exists, is it made of fixed symbols and formulas for movement? And: Doesn‘t that actually harbor the danger of using the body to pretend something?
In contrast to the field of dance, which often works with fixed, encoded vocabularies and forms and works towards making forms repeatable, I am exclusively interested in the expression of the moment, in improvisation. The art of improvisation is a precise tool for expressing what is “right” in the moment. In this context the only relevant question for me is: What moves me – from within?
I don‘t believe that it is truly possible to pretend something with the body. The most perfect presentation, choreographed or improvised, will leave you cold if it is not somehow “felt” by the interpreter. I believe that the audience can feel this instinctively. And that is what I really find exciting about the form of performance art, that it not only allows this, it consciously seeks it out.
In my own work I create structures (like space, light, sound, time...) and improvise with these chosen parameters. I found that something like “tension arcs” appears when I improvise. Tension arcs which have a certain timing, when I improvise freely without outer limits and influences. I include these "arc timings” in my concepts and structure the timing of my work according to this "personal inner time“.
3 Does this search for the unity of body and expression in the moment of greatest tension – for example while hanging on a rope in the air – guarantee that you will escape this danger?
Not necessarily, but there are situations which strongly demand that you “be there” in the moment. Hanging, in particular, is a situation which is extremely physically demanding and forces you to confront yourself in the moment. I chose this situation because I was curious what would happen when I expose myself to the situation of being stuck physically in a place which does not permit a quick escape.
4 Does the fact that performance is irreproducible distinguish it from the choreography of movement in dance?
Absolutely. In dance the body of the dancer is often instrumentalized.
5 What is the role of the artist as performer: The role of a translator of energy into physical expression or the role of a seismographer?
Yes, a seismographer is a good expression for what actually happens in my bodywork. Another one is navigator. In my performances I wander between these poles – perceiving and conveying, being responsive to what I perceive.