By Gabrielle Kennedy
Edan Gorlicki is the Israeli American choreographer who spent one month working with curator Jan Boelen and Design Academy Eindhoven students and alumni to transform their conceptual design projects into performances. The end goal was #TVclerici, the academy’s show opening tomorrow at Milan Design Week 2017.
During #TVclerici media is presented in the making.
Design Academy Eindhoven students and alumni will
experiment with facts and fiction, props and performance,
and individual bodies and objects to create an alternate
reality of designed fakery.
“I’d say a curator has the idea and defines the bigger vision, the designer has the visuals, and the choreographer has the movements,” Gorlicki says. “But in a show like this, the relationships become much more interesting.”
At the start of the #TVclerici process most of the students were not sure how such an ambitious undertaking would work. “When I first arrived it was clear that there was a considerable distance between what students thought was needed to build up a show and what is actually needed to build up a show of this magnitude,” Gorlicki says.
But he was undeterred, mostly due to the available content. “Their material was super strong,” he says. “Brilliant, in fact. There was definitely enough to work with and a lot of details so it was just a matter of sorting through it and adapting it to a stage or TV studio.”
Gorlicki worked both with individual students and the group as a whole on staging, transitions, timing, and audience interaction.
Curator Jan Boelen was impressed by Gorlicki’s eye, his connection with the students and his ability to see the bigger picture. “He understood that contemporary design is also about performing and performativity,” Boelen says. “He knows how the body interacts with media and how our movements are designed by it. And besides that he is a great and sharp mentor. “
At each point Gorlicki’s focus was on structuring the students’ movements in time and space. Very quickly the students - who hail from across departments, both bachelors and masters – became comfortable with his demands. “They met and even surpassed my expectations,” he says.
This was especially the case with the #TVclerici co-editors – Orlando Lovell, Olle Lundin, Vincent Thornhill and Louisa Zahareas. “They were all amazing,” Gorlicki says. “I really enjoyed working with them on a meta level.”
One month ago #TVclerici was a loose amalgam of 20 projects. First these had to be roughly grouped into themes – celebrity, pop, reality mash-up, and news & sport. The co-editors managed their themes, and together with Edan spotted possibilities and overlaps. Throughout, a clear vision of the bigger narrative had to be constantly reinforced because by the time the segments hit the stage in Milan, the themed categories would no longer be relevant, or even referred to.
“I think we managed this, Gorlicki says. “The results are strong and clear. In rehearsals the connection from one act to the next just got stronger until we reached a point where we could totally remove the brackets to make it one long logical programme.”
That Golicki is from the world of dance – and not design – explains much of his success in injecting these projects with a convincing performative framework. He has worked a lot in Germany with Dutch choreographer Nanine Linning who has worked with Dutch designers like Marcel Wanders and Bart Hess, but Gorlicki has never had anything personally to do with design or the intensity of Milan Design Week.
“I think to take student preparation out of that closed world has helped to make their work more understandable to a broader world,” Gorlicki says. “And I see that as the show’s strength. There are a lot of difficult and conceptual ideas, and using movement and performance helps them to become more communicative to an audience beyond just hard-core design enthusiasts.”
Like Anastasia Kubrak’s project about surveillance and privacy, for example, which was difficult to communicate during Graduation Show 2016. “On paper you never really get it, or even necessarily see the potential fun in it,” Gorlicki says. “Re-formatting it for a TV audience really brings the ideas to life. Suddenly people start to properly get it. We turned it into an advetorial campaign for fake real estate, using an exaggerated hard-sell tone.”
But what about the more cynical and jaded Milan audience? Will any hiccups during #TVclerivi overshadow the radical attempts to show how design is used and uses media?
“I needed two more months,” Gorlicki admits. “So it is a little bit hoping, and a lot of trusting,” he says. “In the world of dance we would be much more rehearsed. Absolutely not this raw, especially technically.”
And hit or miss all forty of the participating students have benefited from the exposure to someone from outside the design bubble. Floriane Misslin, for example, always had a good sense of tempo had already thought of her project in terms of a beginning, a middle and an end. “But she turned up to rehearsals with everything written on paper,” Gorlicki says. “There was an image and a script for every movement, and I had to say ‘Why do you show me this on paper? Why aren’t you actually showing me?’ She saw the paper as the product explaining the performance.”
Another way of viewing #TVclerici is looking at the audience as the product, and seeing how they experience the event as product design. “Yes, in that way it becomes more about the message, which is what media is anyway,” says Gorlicki.
Vincent Thornhill, for example, uses a motivational speech to sell mindfulness, taking the audience on a journey of hyper awareness. Really, his “product” is the awareness that builds up in the audience that they are being manipulated.
“A project like his can’t be translated into an object, but it is very well designed,” says Gorlicki, “which is similar to a lot of the final work being presented. So yes I do think the audience will be amazed. This is new and it embraces a broader view of design than what they are typically used to seeing.”
See #TVclerici every day during Milan Design Week at Palazzo Clerici. For more info check www.designacademy.nl/milan