PuSh Blog

The simple magic of Portraits in Motion—A curatorial statement by Norman Armour

January 23, 2017


Portraits in Motion is a gem. An absolute gem. Volker Gerling takes photographs of people and things, then turns them into flipbooks. He presents his flipbooks with the aid of a video camera and a projector. As he shares his flipbooks, he tells stories that illuminates the flipbooks’ subjects. Simple. Simply gorgeous, simply charming, simply revealing, simply elemental. Simply human. It’s an elegant evening, reminiscent of 19th century magic lantern parlour shows.

Flipbook_Man_by_the_Tracks_2 - Photo credit Volker Gerling

Volker Gerling has walked about a great deal of Germany taking photos of people, exhibiting his flipbooks, making his living from his trade. Much like a journeyman or carpenter would to earn his stripes. Volker considers himself a cinematographer, not a photographer. He creates moving images, mini films. PuSh had him in residence back in 2011 as part of a collection of city-themed works presented in conjunction with the launch of Vancouver’s 125th anniversary year—our own modest commemoration of an auspicious occasion. Volker spent two weeks in the city, walking about, conversing with people, and in the end taking two photographs. Both are now incorporated into his performance. One of the photos is of the author Michael Turner, taken in a picturesque laneway by the railroad tracks up at 33rd and Arbutus, where he spent many hours as a kid.

flipbook_Old_Man_with_Baseballcap_3 - - Photo credit Volker Gerling

Volker was previously presented for one evening at Club PuSh. The response was enthusiastic. A sold out crowd was in attendance. Enthralled by the work, by Volker, by the illuminating magic of it all. Ever since seeing the reaction of the audience there that night, I have dreamed of bringing him back for longer run. Fortunately, the Cultch’s executive director Heather Redfern also saw the wisdom in this. And there you have it. Three nights at the York Theatre. The perfect venue. The perfect work. The perfect artist. Sometimes curating—deciding on a work, caring for an artist, being passionate about their work—can be that immediate. Sometimes it’s simply magical.

—Norman Armour
PuSh Artistic & Executive Director

Buy tickets for Portraits in Motion, making its highly-anticipated return to Vancouver.