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Flipbook cinema snapping into Theatre Junction Calgary

German Photographer Volker Gerling tells intimate stories through photos

Volker Gerling set out to explore Germany, and the world, building flipbooks from his encounters with strangers.

Courtesy Susanne Schüle

Volker Gerling set out to explore Germany, and the world, building flipbooks from his encounters with strangers.

German artist Volker Gerling is bringing his flipbooks to Calgary. His show, Portraits in Motion, is a series of encounters described through flip books (projected on a screen so everyone can see), telling personal stories about meeting strangers. He performs from Jan. 18 to 21 though Theatre Junction.

Artistic Director Mark Lawes explains why he’s bringing such a simple premise to the Calgary stage.

Q: What can we expect from Portraits in Motion?

A: It’s kind of a riff on Facebook, but, I like to see it as the human dimension of Facebook. A reaction to these mediated relationships we have through digital media.

Basically, he set out the door to walk and meet people. Then he would invite them into his flipbook cinema by taking portraits of them as he got to know them, and he made it into these flipbook portraits.

He takes a series of photos, and (in the show) sets a camera on those photos and flip through so the audience can see. It’s such a simple, beautiful, human show that talks about a genuine encounter between people and strangers.

Then he tells the stories of these encounters.

Q: What makes this show a good fit for Calgary audiences?

A: In any city, it’s always interesting to see someone that has kind of gone out in the world and connected with people. In cities we tend to pass strangers all the time and don’t know much about the people around us.

It kind of awakens this idea that everyone you pass has a story of some kind. I think that’s why it speaks to people so strongly.

And everywhere he goes (to perform), he walks around and meets people and continues to build his flipbook cinema. So he’ll be out, walking around Calgary as well. You never know, some of those encounters might end up in his flipbook cinema one day.

Q: Have you already had an encounter with him?

A: I heard about someone talking about it maybe a year and a half ago at a festival in France. I thought it was such a charming, great idea, so I called him up right away and started working on getting him to Calgary. Because, now, he’s book straight for the next two or three years – it’s been a big success for him.

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