Dancer, actress and proto-performance artist Valeska Gert, no stranger to Strange Flowers, was born on this day in 1892. Her birthday this year coincides with an unprecedented wave of interest in her life and work in her hometown Berlin.
Following a Gert-related book and recording, this revival incorporates a major show at Hamburger Bahnhof gallery as well as a small exhibition of screen prints by that show’s co-curator Wolfgang Müller.
Still to come is a performance evening featuring, among others, Ming Wong (check out this great piece in which he uses one of Fassbinder’s most intense, claustrophobic films as a German lesson). There’s also a talk and a film presentation, featuring René Clair’s early Surrealist offering Entr’acte and Kenneth Anger’s sublime Puce Moment alongside more recent examples of experimental film.
While this revival is gratifying for admirers of Gert’s trailblazing art and fascinating life, it remains a relatively localised phenomenon. It would be wonderful to see a re-release of Volker Schlöndorff’s film about Gert, Nur zum Spaß, nur zum Spiel. I was lucky enough to recently catch a rare screening of this 1977 documentary; apparently even Schlöndorff himself doesn’t have a copy of it. Bringing it to an international audience would be a major step in creating the wider interest that this singular artist deserves.