Friedrichshain’s Live-in Gallery

David Pollmann on turning his home into a public performance space

Lauren Grant Dino Koster

David Pollmann, whose previous works include Passing Lines and Circular Angles, puts another performative project under his belt with the second of his Berliner Zimmer series.

Often using the human body as a motif and vehicle with which to juxtapose other objects, we were interested to learn more about what we could expect from Zimmer.

We sat down with David to talk about the way in which this project differs from his previous works, what it’s like to unveil your personal space for a project of this kind, and what characterises Berlin as such a pertinent city in which to present his work.

How did the idea for the project first come about? I heard a radio report on Gertrude Stein, and I was inspired by the group meetings she had in her private space in Paris, the Stein salon. Similarly, a few years ago, a friend of mine who is a dancer had a similar gathering of friends from various artistic disciplines in her flat. There they showcased their own artistic approaches and personal projects. This meeting had a huge impact on me.

How does it feel to invite people into your personal space? It feels like I am sharing my privacy in a very natural yet novel way since I know most of the people that come – the participants at least – personally. However, I admit that I was a bit nervous in the beginning since I’ve never opened my apartment for so many people before. In the end, I was glad I did because it turned out to be such a warm and friendly atmosphere. Friends brought friends and everyone got to know each other, so it felt like a very special family meeting.

How much of a difference do you think the setting makes, versus a traditional gallery space? Having an exhibition like this in a private space over a traditional gallery makes a huge difference because the private atmosphere frames everything that happens within it in a more personal way. I have the feeling that there is less distance between people, and that their conversations have the potential to reach a certain other quality – my aim is to develop an alternative culture of communication about art and everything that relates to it.

Your previous projects, such as Passing Lines, have juxtaposed movement with static objects. What do you find particularly striking about using the body as a means of exploring this juxtaposition? The static objects were made by organic movement, and I wanted to shift focus to confront the objects with organic movement again, instead of placing them somewhere statically. There is friction between the static three-dimensional linearity of objects and the fragile organic movements of a human being, namely a dancer, and I wanted to explore this friction more. Berliner Zimmer deals with juxtaposition as well, but in a slightly different sense; it juxtaposes various artistic positions in the context of a cross-disciplinary platform.

Is there a specific audience you want to attract with this project? I want to attract culturally-interested people with a taste for body-related and performance art. A certain openness for the unknown is necessary.

Were the people who have previously visited your exhibitions the people you expected to come? I didn’t think of that beforehand, but I must say that people seemed familiar, even though I didn’t know all of them.

Is there something characteristic to Berlin’s location or atmosphere that marks it as particularly different to other cities you have presented your work in? Berlin is a very culturally diverse and open-minded city. The people living here bring an inclusive attitude, which is beautiful. All of that makes it the ideal city for a project like Berliner Zimmer. The idea of it came naturally to me in Berlin. Berliner Zimmer could work elsewhere, though the name should stay. Currently, I am working on expanding it further.

Do you remember your first dance project? My first dance project was a stop-motion video. A digital camera on a tripod captured black and white pictures of myself standing in a very narrow corridor in Vienna performing static movements. The fluidity of movement came only with the editing.

If you could compare that first project with your current project, what would you say the biggest differences would be? I work more collectively now. The projects became more complex and I started to involve musicians, dancers and designers that I share my artistic research with. I like diversity; you start with a specific question and a new setup, and you don’t know what will come out in the end. The thrill this brings is crucial for the work flow. Perhaps the form makes the biggest difference.

Would you say there are any particular qualities to your work that are common across your projects? They all have an interdisciplinary quality. They are process-oriented and focus on the human body and movement and have a performative character. I started with static objects like drawings and wire sculptures, and confronted them with implemented movement. I also try not to stay with one form, but to play around and mix things up.

However, the common thread will always be the human body. It’s a very formal approach. Coming from the field of communication design, I have a very graphic perspective on performance art and dance. That is why my first works turned out to be performance installations, structuring spaces through the interplay of the moving body with the moving object, always with a factor of unpredictable motion. I would position my work right between formal strength and improvisation.

My projects are part of a non-linear trajectory. I might connect to one of my earlier projects in order to further develop a motif that is still affecting me. I see my projects as individual pieces, but they have something in common: the spirit of the time they were created in, as well as the working environment, had a huge impact on their style. After all, their main running thread is me, I guess.

What would you say is your aim with Berliner Zimmer? I want to create a very vivid and experimental frame in which everyone involved feels a certain freedom of thought. My biggest wish is that this particular spirit radiates.

You also teach performative art alongside your exhibitions. Has this influenced any aspect of the performance? I see the exhibition as some kind of live performance in itself with a defined beginning and ending. What happens in between has a variable character.

Are there any new projects in the pipeline? What are you hoping to explore? I intend to create strict setups in which various dancers would move individually. My exploration will be on the variety of body movement within strict setups, giving movement impulses in turn.

Berliner Zimmer #3 will be taking place on November 27, if you would like to take part email attackdarkandy [at] for more information. This project is a part of 1st Worldwide Apartment and Studio BiennaleRead more about David’s work and watch videos of past performances on his website.

Lucy Evans & Anthony de Bono