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Sasha Waltz & Guests – Körper

Ramon Martinez Mendoza

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL: Körper (body in German) had its world premiere in 2000 at Berlin’s Holocaust Museum. This masterpiece has traveled more than 20 countries and has been acclaimed by critics.
Sasha Waltz & Guests – Körper
The stage is dark, no light, and no sound. Suddenly, a black monolith appears and in the center a big frame starts dropping down bodies which looks as though blood and water have been mixed. Through closer observation, the bodies become organs and fluids. The actors are ‘painting’ a picture of our inner body. The show has started and the audience has been stunned. Körper (body in German) had its world premiere in 2000 at Berlin’s Holocaust Museum. This masterpiece has traveled more than 20 countries and has been acclaimed by critics. In 90 minutes spectators appreciate the abstract concept of the body. This is accomplished through a set of sequences that encourage the audience to squirm in their seats as part of an incredible diversity of images. Körper is sinking into the depths of a new form of expression where bodies become a means a communication. Sasha Waltz & Guests has become one of the most successful international cultural enterprises. Their choreographies pose a new form of expression which includes theatre, dance and body paint to convert the stage into a loaded ephemeral installation of a profound visual richness. This is easy to understand since its beginnings -when the company was founded in Berlin in 1993 by Sasha Waltz and Jochen Sandig- the idea was to create their own independent pieces. In Körper, the body is not the same anymore. The actors point out how human beings live in a jail created between the soul and the flesh. A naked woman says: “this is my body: back side, profile and front side. I did not really choose it. I was born more or less like this”. Then, a group of people are measured accurately on the black wall behind them. Breast, feet, face, lungs, liver and nails, all have a price in Euros. Bodies are labeled with specific quantities of money. Following this sequence, the stage reflects the madness, drug abuse, stress and compulsiveness of our society. How man disrespects his inner body. Then a thunderous sound fills the room, the black monolith has fallen down, man's body has collapsed, its force does not exist anymore. The audience is left speechless. It is impossible try to pull the bodies together; now bodies are being cloned, following mathematical rules. Then people can see how each becomes the other's replica. A big mass-body is following the same tide. If one moves, another moves as well. If one decides to stand up the group decide to do it too. They do it always as a group, never alone. This piece is a metaphor of our society. Reflections of how we are losing our unique beauty and at the same time how everyone is fighting to keep it. The powers of the images grab the mind of the people. Everybody is still and quiet. In one sequence people want to ‘taste’ the scene and in the next one they want to almost escape the theatre to relax, maybe even take a nap. However, their bodies are ‘fastened in the seats’, and even though they are tense or happy, the next sequence changes their mood yet again. This unbalanced rollercoaster makes the viewer never lose focus of even a single detail. Körper is theatre, it is dancing and it is visual art, all in one. The ideas mix with fluidity. Sasha Waltz’s Körper cannot be catalogued as a ‘simple show’, it is beyond this. We (the audience) have taken part in a new form of enjoying the concept of the body. You will not forgive yourself if you miss this show. Sasha Waltz & Guests – Körper: Melbourne International Arts Festival WARNING: Full frontal nudity Cigarette smoking (tobacco free) Loud music Very strong language Strobe effects 15 Oct at 7:30PM 16 Oct at 7:30PM 17 Oct at 7:30PM Melbourne International Arts Festival 9 – 24 October, 2009
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Ramon Martinez Mendoza is a Venezuela-born visual artist and writer. Arriving in Australia in 2009, he has been involved in the arts working with communities with diverse backgrounds. Martinez has written two novels, Return to the Womb published in 2006 and Tapping for Zap in 2012.

Martinez is currently finishing a Master in Cultural Community Development at the University of Melbourne and has a Masters in Art in Public Spaces at RMIT as well as a Bachelor in Chemical Engineer from Venezuela. He has been writing for Artshub since 2009.