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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Portraits in Motion

Volker Gerling in association with Aurora Nova

Genre: Multimedia, Storytelling

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

Volker Gerling is passionate about photography and he walks all over Germany looking for people to photograph – then he creates flip books of them. Fascinating!


Sumerhall’s formal circular Anatomy Lab theatre and the set for this show – a tall narrow table with stacks of black and white photographs, a video camera, and a screen on the wall look like we are in for a staid lecture. The presenter arrives and starts to tell us a little about photographs. It seems to be a low key presentation until Volker Gerling delicately places one of his specially made flip books on the table in front of the video camera which projects the image on the screen on the wall, and silently flips through it. Pure magic! The series of sequential portraits of a woman becomes a low tech film clip – enlarged on the screen – as she smiles for a few seconds. Gerling talks a bit more and shows a flip book of a man whose expression changes as the book is flipped through. The audience is charmed and Gerling tells us more about his interest in flip books and taking photos.

Volker Gerling is a photographer who is passionate about his craft. In the last decade he has walked across Germany taking photographs of people and creating flip books. Gerling is authentic and personable as he tells many stories about the subjects of each flip book – his storytelling is intriguing and his well-chosen words are all we need before he shows another flip book to take us on a new journey. He has an appealing unforced sense of humour, based on his observations of the people he photographed. The audience is rapt with interest and fascination as Gerling shows us more cinematic wonders of lost moments in time – a smile, an envious look.

After watching for a while, it is apparent that Gerling has his own ritualized way of holding each little book in his hand, taking a second and showing us the portraits in motion. This process is natural – always consistent – and shows the pride he has in his photographs and the joy he has to share them. His storytelling is friendly, as if we have known him for years, yet he is silent when showing the flip books. His silence lets us take in what we saw, so we can relate to the story told visually in a few fleeting seconds.

This is the perfect show to see at noon because it is quietly absorbing, intriguing and opens your mind to reflect on the people in the photographs and our lives. We have space and time to think and feel through Gerling’s creativity. Volker Gerling is fascinating – his social commentary is witty, entertaining and sometimes quirky and his flip books are miniature works of art.