1. Introduction, 2. The Project, 3. Extensions, 4. Documentations

1. Introduction


The unknown and the state of not knowing seemingly dissapear from the maps. Times of blank spots seem to be over long ago. The availability of digital information about each spot on the earth, as well as the opportunity to reach each of these spots by airplain within a day, induces people to think to know about everything and everybody.

The secret which will last for ever are the other people and the self.

Both reveal and configure reciprocally in the encounter with the others.

The greatest gift one can give, is probably the attention for what a person is doing, is interested in, is occupied with.


Although in the last years I am working repeatedly in my old home town Oberhausen in the Ruhr area, I always spend longer periodes in different cultural circles to challenge my work and myself again and again anew.

A cohesive travel project is obvious, since 70-80% of my performances and works take place outside of Germany in Europe and worldwide.

This Project is a consequent development of my previous work with communicative choreographies in different cultural circles and contexts.

It combines aspects of movements, locomotion, reciprocal cultural exchange and artistic transformation. Aspects which are difficult to bring thematically, spatialy and time-wise into accordance.


Most widely the text desists from scientific justification and backup in form of quotes and references to, and also differenciation from works of others.

The list of, e.g. Carl Schuster, Alan Lomax, Gregory Baetson, Heinz von Foerster, Niklas Luhmann, Hal Foster, references to Hermeneutic and discourses as represented by Nicolas Bourriaud, as well as concrete examples of recent practices of art, all these are enormously extendable, but always incomplete and forever discussable.

Its left to the reader to make these connections.

The following text and the project are based on my previous working experience and artistic processes, and is not copied or whispered to me by someone.

Inclinations towards Cybernetics, Constructivism, System Theory, Hermeneutic and Conceptual Art were always a meaningful theoretical support for my work, and are probably obvious to the informed reader.

However the text alone should be sufficiant to clarify the necessity of this work. For further questions and suggestions approachable.



2. The Project


It is central for the project to establish reciprocal artistic relations in divers encounters.

Therefor I plan to give a gift in form of a short dance piece to a person in many places on earth as possible. These pieces have a duration of just 5 to 15 minutes.

The idea of the danced gift was developed by me with students in Mexico City and Tempe, Arizona and tested recently in Seoul by myself and others. These experiences confirm the proper functioning of the dance concept.

In "A Piece for You" it is essential to spend time with the person and learn something about their life.

Attention is given to those persons to include them dramaturgically acive in the creation of the piece, which goes beyond a superficial use of the people.

Dialogically the pieces are prepared and performed in presence of the gifted person and possibly others in suitable places, e.g. at home, public places, in the garden.

Instead of reproducing one and the same piece over and over again in a conformal and protected theatre situation, all pieces of "A Piece for You" are unique, because the dramaturgical base and even the applied method originate from the encounter with the individual life of the gifted persons. The attention given to the people focusses on individual importancies in their own coherences.

In their special structure and execution the resulting pieces process recognisably the elements which were found together.

A simple method to develop the dance, is to form intensities from these elements and string them together initially. Each danced intensity consist of an entity of idea, content and form. (See also 7. About the Dance)


While the perspectives of different functions, artist - gifted person, persist, the attention given usually to the dancer in the thick of the action on a stage, is allocated to the gifted.


To deal with each other during preparation and execution extends riciprocally the perception of ones own life in an artistixc context

Instead centarlising myself, my work and my individual experience during this projekt, the focus is more on the people with their importancies, who make this spanning chaine possible.

Particulary the spectators can observe the entity of dancer and gifted from a second order viewpoint in the context of the environment and in the context of the whole project. Additionally they ask themselves which piece would be performed, if they were the gifted.

The collection of all performed and documented dances and encounters tell a story in which the elements of the chain relate to each other. The questions which will be posed to the people will orientate closely on the individual person, but experience values will be carried from one station to the other and will be developed. Likewise similarities and differences of importancies in the collection will become clear.


Regarding this, the film documentation and the accompanying website play an important role, to illustrate the global context, in which the participants are connected. One can comprehend there, that individuality of a single piece of art functions in a global coherence, without using conforming mechanisms, or producing these. Art is based on reciprocal encounters, which evokes always emergent (unforseeable) results.

During the whole project the film material will be released in the internet and afterwards edited for various projects. (See also 4. Documentation, Website, Film and Book)


The geographical aspect focusses less on the cultural centers and the cities with their obvious attractions, but on the interstices, what lies on the way and in the remote. Hence, a lot of time will be concedet for unplanned encounters and deviations. The centers will be used more for the concentartion of art interested people and infrastructure, and will be related with the route.


The peculiar feature of the project consists precisely in the fact, not to be able to avoid entering into engagements with people.

Despite proper preparation, language problems can not be completely prevented, and cultural differences of the conception and meaning of a gift, a dance, a travel, enhance the unknown components. Nevertheless these difficulties turn out to be treasures, if they are overcome creativly.

The widespread differences in age, profession, heritage, cultural as well as  social environment doesnt exclude anyone. Amongst these encounters are pleasent as well as unpleasent ones, difficult, exiting and sad ones with people in various life situations.


People could be chosen indeed, enhlightening certain coherences, or picking encounters which seem easier out of personal reasons, or encounters which seem to fit previously fixed dramaturgical criteria, but the basic pricipal of "saying never no" seems the most adeqaute, except it would put me in much too dangerous situations.

It seems to me contraproductive to approach practically and art orientated the eternal ethnographical question "how to take the others serious" with the use of a preconceived thematical/dramatourgical orientation.

Contrary I understand the unforseeable, the unknown, the difference, the not-knowing, just so ones own restrictions, as a necessary creative potential for the artistic practice.

Although the project needs therefor a high level of tolerance and acceptance, the attempt of complete selflessness seems not to be appropriate, especially since it is impossible to let an encounter being uninfluenced by ones own attitude and strategy.

The traveller still should be recognisable as a certain human being, who mediates the project and who experiences this with and for other people. In the encounter and artistic work this artist works as an individuum who understands his identity as a part of a common process, in which he definitely makes individual decisions.


This simplicity has likewise a simple, as well as a complex consideration as background.

Instead methods of critical inquiry, debate, closer examination and scepticism, exotistism, or even worse, pure cultural imperialism, a generosity and invitation for a participation in the creation of the project takes place.

Not by any means I do refuse to accept, that this is an ethical consideration again. I can do so, because this invitation stays above the good-human attitude.

In the focus is the pure artistic encounter, to be able to take distance from manipulated, ideologically motivated  processes, and of course to take distance from the negative effects of politically motivated exercise of power.


Moral and political components as well as environmental issues will  not be emphazised, even though the importancy of these themes immediately suggest themselves.

All areas of life will appear anyway. But they will be artistically handeled, without comitting a category error.

The jump into another category and the interpretation is left to all participants.

This balancing act between prepared and influence of the encounter on the idea, is no vagueness, but a momentum of the concept, which creates integrity.

The idea of the donated piece of art stays untouched, thanks to its fundamental social function.

A format might be repeatable, but unfolds only then its creative potential in the dicussed questions regarding this project, if it develops itself further with the found realities. Not repeatable are reciprocal encounters with people, the essential factor in this concept.

Hence, the thematic openness of each short piece is a necessity for this project.

The quality of the entirety measures itself on the artistic elaboration of the single pieces.


The artistic surplus consists next to the above, simply in the active participation in a work of art, of all participans around the globe and in all parts of the earth.

Furthermore they can not only understand the world as one big piece of art, but can make the concrete experience to take an active part in the creation of the perspective and understanding of this worldwide spanning artwork.



3. Extentions


1. Introducing Gesture:

In many places it will be important to show something short after arrival.

Therefor an introduction in form of a short dance piece of approx. 20 minutes will be prepared before departure. Without compromising artistically this piece speaks to everyone. Flexible in terms of staging, it can be performed without technique inside and outside of public spaces and theatres.

Furthermore a summary of the video documentation with dance elements of former encounters can be shown. This fulfills a connecting function to the actual project.


2. The artistic practice of the danced gift will be extended in several aspects.

Here, the transfer of the idea of the danced gift in a reciprocal manner plays a central role, so as to stimulate reproduction and development through others:


a) Danced gifts for groups, e.g. school classes and social organisations.

b) Hybrid works with groups of dancers in form of workshops and projects, who work out danced gifts for and with others. These pieces can be performed separately in different locations, or in a common place like a theatre. Always the presence of the donee is indispensable.

Independent development of the project through these groups in their relevant socio/cultural contexts. Here, a transposition on specific target groups could happen to reach locally a thematic focus. But the direction of artistic and thematic elaboration is generally not controled by me.

c) Planned reciprocal encounters with other dancers, who create simultaniously a gift for me. This could happen in public performances in theatres and festivals.


3. Lectures:

Video presentations and  lectures of the project in cultural places and universities, as well as participation in thematically related symposia are always possible.


4. Framing of the tour:

Before departure, an opening event will be held in a theatre in Germany.

After returning to Germany the project will not stay on the level of lectures, but will be developed amongst others in form of a dance production.


5. Publicness:

The amount of pieces and performances is not calculable beforehand. All in all between 80 and 140 pieces will be worked out by me in encounters and with other dancers.

In addition, the amount will be enlarged through the hybrid work with groups.

Also the estimated number of spectators and people, who come in contact with this project, could be in the range of a world tour by a company through big theatres.



4. Documentation, Website, Film and Book


Without distracting from the actual core of the project, i.e. the encounters, numerous video shots are necessary to relate the stations, to make the tour traceable from the outside and simply for the extensive documentation.

The entire film component is by its effort organisatorically and artistically an own project.

This is only combinable with a generous time frame and low dayly average of kilometers.

The temporary company of of a cameraman is not ruled out, but the tour works best in its original character of the single traveller, since a filmteam does not contribute to the intimicy of an open reciprocal encounter.

The material will be filmed by me and also by the other participants with a professional suitable camera for long journeys, another helmet camera, and another small and unobstrusive semiprofessional camera.


1. Dance-Collection:

All dances and encounters will be cinematically documented in a long version. This collection is suited for exhibitions and archives.

A short version in form of a dvd will be produced for public performances.


2. Website:

Already during the tour, part of the cinematic material will be released through a public website.

Here are as well accompanying texts, references about the future tour, contacts and as well different possibilities of participation to be seen.

The concept and the method of realization are transparently represented, so that the development of the project and reflections about it are comprehensible.

Utilizable cognition of the work therefor will be published to offer tools for independent research about the questions raised.

For this website authors and scientists from the visited countries are asked to participate.


3. Film:

Subsequent to the tour, a film in broadcasting quality should be produced.

Compared with the documentation and the website, all aspects of the project shopuld be represented in this ca. 1,5 hour long film.

The connecting aspect is the journey itself and the means of locomotion by motorcycle. These are essential components to be captured.


Most widely without explanatory sequences, the film "A Piece for You" speaks in images of the mutual relation between journey and reciprocal encounters. Therefor a change of perspectives within the events, done by the donees and the traveller and dancer is used.

Shots by spectators, as well as tripod shots and moving landscape shots of the mounted bike camera complement the perspectives. The aim is to let appear the interrelation itself in between these perspectives.

Next to the theme of reciprocity it is vital to capture thematically movement as the transforming power in the found contexts.

The movement through space in form of motorcycling and the movement of dance provide a base for an intellectual movement to understand the global coherence as one which is creativly contrivable.


The repetedly mentioned documentations of motorcycle-world tours, e.g. Ewan McGregors and Charley Boormans "Long Way Round" are, despite all respect for the effort, only partly comparable and are mistakable in this context.

"Long Way Round" is a project executed under enormous time pressure with the aim to circle around the world with almost the minimum of time and distance possible.

Under continous company of a cameraman and a support team, it puts the charismatic film actors in the thick of the action.

Nevertheless is this film worth watching, even it places the sportive and adventorous aspects in the foreground and stands still in front of cultural differences in astonishment.


4. Book Publication:

A book will be published after the tour containing contributions by authors of the countries, own articles and photos.

It represents an essence of the entire project with regard to the artistic and scientific aspects. 

Contact: thomaslehmen@thomaslehmen.de                                                                              © Thomas Lehmen 2013