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Exhibition: PERFORMANCE – Frank Stefan Kimmel
Whether it's a concert, theater, dance, or reading, live performances are actually part of our cultural experience as a matter of course. Experiences that speak to us in real time, without a screen or pause button, in their directness and enrich us. But what does this form of public performance look like from the perspective of the performer? What happens between the performance and the final applause from the point of view of an actress, musician, author or first solo dancer? How do they experience themselves and others in this special and yet familiar situation between tension and flow, happiness and self-criticism, authenticity and staging? What do these stage moments mean to them as people?
Through interviews, photos seconds before and after the performance, as well as facing portraits, these special moments are impressively described and captured.
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Twenty-five renowned artists from the fields of music, acting and dance took part in the project. They have been performing successfully on stage for many years and were portrayed by Frank Stefan Kimmel shortly before and shortly after each performance. Interview texts complement and deepen these snapshots and provide rare insights.
The large-format portraits are presented as a print on aluminum dibond on tripods. The corresponding interview will be shown in the same format, also as a print on Alu Dibond.
In March of this year, the KULTURKRAFTTAGE took place for the second time at PS.Speicher here in Einbeck. A cultural event, which looks for its equals. Here Frank Stefan Kimmel presented his project for the first time.
On October 13, the exhibition "PERFORMANCE" ends in the Biotechnikum. On this Thursday, 13th of October, at 5 p.m. Frank Stefan Kimmel will guide us once again through life with and on stage. You are welcome to register for this at
"Photography is capturing time, deceleration of vision, a brief moment of pause - both for the photographer and the viewer. The focus is on details or the big picture, knowing to capture only a section at a time, thus consciously including as well as excluding." – Frank Stefan Kimmel
Quotes from the artists
Click on the images to discover the artists' quotes.
"I tick off small mistakes on stage straight away. My father always told me: 'You don't have time to think about mistakes on stage,' and that's a golden phrase. You have to learn to check off mistakes very quickly, because the music doesn't stop. It forces you to be in the here and now, and that's something I appreciate and love immensely on stage. In everyday life, that's often so hard."
"We do this job for the audience. We want to reach the viewer, the listener. For us, there are moments of happiness, of course. But you want someone to watch you or listen to you and succeed in touching others. What else are we doing this for?"
"Applause, in the very first place, is the satisfaction of vanity. Because I think all of us who stand on stages are of boundless vanity. Anyone who denies that doesn't belong there. So much for "I want to say something, I want to communicate something" - yes, but I also want applause for it. Except for Klaus Kinski, no one went on stage to have tomatoes thrown at them."
"A performance can never be perfect. I've given that up, as well as this demand on myself. But sometimes, together with your musicians, you manage to do something new or something pleasantly surprising. And that's what it's all about."
"For me, the stage is like my living room, where I can do what I want without compromise. Life has many compromises, the stage none. At least not for me, because it's my program, there's no director involved, I arrange the music myself and everything is the way I want it. That's why I think I'm most authentic on stage. It's a liberation from all the things that otherwise weigh me down and eat me up."
"The stage is a magical, healing place; no matter if I'm feeling bad, sick, my neck or back hurts, worries are bothering me - as soon as I go on stage, it all disappears. Singing on stage is my therapy."
"Handmade culture, not artificially or synthetically produced, is only verifiable on the man and the woman and thus only in the context of a live performance. The only real time, the only real condensation within a given time, uncut, unadorned, is the stage experience. It is not only three-dimensional, but four-, five-dimensional: it smells, it has another form of community experience, of commitment, of sensuality, also of threat and intrusiveness. The stage can be brash, it can get aggressive, it can do the intangible, it can get touching - and no preserve gives that back."
"There are rooms that cost a tremendous amount of power. In this respect, the certain city hall is a dreaded opponent cast in concrete. A great club or theater space makes it easier for everyone. In inhospitable congress halls, on the other hand, you have to work harder internally until you reach the audience, and you notice that physically as well. Inwardly, you then pull the plow like a water buffalo in a rice paddy."
"If traveling between gigs was eliminated, we'd probably be playing three concerts a day because we're so addicted to it. Of course, travel is annoying, but, come on, we get to do this job in front of thousands of people and present our ideas and the composers' ideas and get praised and paid for it."
"All religions have understood that something special arises when you go to a place and gather collectively for an occasion. The presence of many people always creates a different energy. You can live for a certain time in a completely different world of experience in terms of acoustics, light, architecture, energy, vibrations, smells. The same thing happens when you go to a stage or a concert or theater hall."
"Especially in a solo performance, I have to find the very narrow path between absolute control and absolute meditation. If I go too much in either direction, I lose something. If I dream too much, I run the risk of losing control. In addition, there is a very thin line between arrogance and modesty, because one side of you wants to be anarchic, while the other side wants to be honest, reserved and easy-going. It's a very strange feeling, but for me it's always about - whether it's with my band, with Sting or even in the studio - finding that sweet spot between letting go and being in control and being successful on that path, and that doesn't happen too often. It's a really fine line and it goes down pretty steeply on both sides."
"Fears of the imagination? Of course. The doubt and the pressure of not being good enough. Especially when you're young, you live with it a lot. And there are always evenings when I'm unsure if something won't slip during my performance. Doubts are something very healthy for artistic professions. Without that, it doesn't work. Of course, the fear of text hangers also accompanies you. At my age, I'm glad that text still works. The moment I realized that I could not learn text with the previous ease, I would stop, because then you are filled with fear."
"Every evening is different. The room is so full of different life stories, sorrows, joys. All this is there, gathered in the audience. Songs fly, I just share them. But they can slide into other people's lives and reflect or inspire feelings. I can't know what will happen to it, because after the concert everyone goes to their cars, to their home and takes some of what we experienced together. They, too, cannot hold on to it, only pass it on. Everyone brings something and everyone takes something."
"After all, we belong to a species that thrives on being connected. Precisely because it is so easy to be in contact with people on the other side of the world today, it is all the more important to make it clear to us how we interact with our immediate environment. Concerts are a great way to experience these rudimentary experiences of rhythm, movement, trance and togetherness rooted in us."
"The stage takes a lot of your strength. If you finish your training with pain, you know that it will be even harder after the performance in the evening. But you only feel that after two hours. It's a tough job that demands a lot from you, and you have to be very disciplined, even as a child. You know that a dancer's career only lasts twenty years and you have to pack everything into that period of time. That's another reason why I'm experiencing this time very intensely and enjoying all the moments."
"The only way in which something can happen with love is through vulnerability. I could never go out on stage with my visor down and say, "Here's the set I'm going to play," and I wouldn't care if people were singing along or going along, I wouldn't look into the audience and just do my best. So of course I'm very vulnerable on stage. Just alone, just with a guitar. If the audience leaves right from the start, it helps me enormously for a successful evening. You just have to get off to a good start. Otherwise, it's as if you're spinning your bikes for a long time and have to do everything you can to make the evening a success."
"It's very important to let a lot of myself shine through in a role, because I have to fill it credibly and convincingly with life – and where else should I take that from? Moments of improvisation take place intuitively for me. I have my structure, my framework, but when I feel different, I vary my dance. I delay a bit, make one more spin, take something with more attack. My emotional state therefore influences me and it should as an artist. We are human beings and negotiate human things, even if they are abstract. That's the beauty of our profession: it's never the same."
"If I can't imagine how the song works in front of an audience during songwriting, I don't even pursue the idea further. I now have a pretty good feeling for this and for this reason many unfinished songs in the drawer. If I write fewer songs today than I used to, it's probably for that very reason. In addition, I have become much more critical of my own work and say to myself: "Hugh, if you have nothing original and personal to say in these three to four minutes, then leave it." Paul McCartney once said that there could never be enough nonsensical love songs, but I'm not so sure ..."
"To touch, you have to be authentic on stage, down to the last fiber. There are parts of you and your experiences that you incorporate. Some colleagues rely on the fact that an audience only wants a colorful evening with lots of bells and whistles and acrobatics. Of course, you can also play a show like that. Then everyone may have a nice evening, but nothing sticks. The same applies to the audience: Only those who don't just want to be sprinkled or spend a nice evening, but really listen and watch, can see that I go on stage with an open heart and open soul and consciously allow people to look into me. Authentically played moments, that's what you talk about."
"On stage, I succeed in things and emotional states that are not foreign to me in private, but often do not appear in this way. These can be tears as well as the hero who always prevails. I am always surprised by myself. Ultimately, however, you can only play on stage what you have understood outside of it, or even better: If you carry it, at least in parts, within yourself."
"I don't play for the audience, I play together with them. You feel it comes as close to you as possible and it's amazing how these vibrations transfer to the stage and you realize at a certain point: Okay, we're communicating. That alone makes playing live something very, very special. On stage, you try to send your emotions to the audience through musical codes. It's easier for you in manageable stage settings, because you have a better feeling for the interplay with your fellow musicians and therefore know that musically we're somehow already coming across right to the audience. I just did a tour with Peter Gabriel again after a long time. There is so much technology, sounds, props, light and loops on stage. I don't want to say that you are lost in it, but involved in all that. Whereas when you're on stage with just four, five musicians and we're listening to each other, it's much easier to feel if we're all together, with a common goal in mind."
"The stage experience at this moment is my life in condensation, with everything that I have to deal with in life and that keeps me busy. Of course, there is a scale within which I interpret, but that is also relatively broad, there can be quite large differences.Every note I play is therefore actually a mirror of my soul, of what I do. That's how it should be. If it is a purely mechanical matter, it makes no sense at all, then it has nothing to do with art."
"Moments mean everything to me. Moments of silence in the audience, not because they are waiting for something, but just absorbing something. Or emotional encounters with people after the concert. It's not about entertainment for me, but about an audience having the experience of being involved in something meaningful. For me, the interaction with the audience is what is magical and mysterious, and ultimately the only reason to keep playing live."
"In the theater, we can look at ourselves in the mirror in a theatrical, reduced form at a distance from our own being. These are precious moments in which so much can happen at the same time. Painting or poetry, on the other hand, is more reflection. I've been playing for 35 years now, but after a good performance I'm still very satisfied. Then I have achieved something as a human being by giving the audience a good theater experience. Because a good play can change the way you look at life."
"I immediately notice mistakes during the performance - whether with myself or with colleagues - and if something has gone really wrong, I remember it immediately after a performance and then look at the text or think about how it could be done better. But at the latest since Martin Benrath, whom I admired as a young actor, told me in the mid-1980s: "Keep playing! Never think about mistakes on stage!", I know that the stage is not the time for reflection. You play on stage, you can think about it afterwards."
About his art
"The area of the side stage has always fascinated me. Whether in sound recordings or in the context of concert photography. A clearly defined line runs there, separating the visible from the hidden, the diffusely dark from the brightly focused, the private from the public, and whoever crosses this threshold comes back changed.
That's why I came up with the idea of asking various artists to give me 30 seconds of their time immediately before and after their performance in front of my camera. Always in front of a neutral background and with identical light setup, mostly directly on the side stage. Thus, over the years, different snapshots of artists were created on and behind the big and small stages of the republic.
Through interviews I approached what performing in front of an audience means as part of their normal job description on the one hand and exceptional situation on the other, complemented by facing portraits. The discussion about the value and necessity of live performances in front of physically present audiences will always remain topical, and the answers and conclusions will vary. This project may be understood as a plea to make us aware of how valuable the quality and immediacy of the live experience is, how diverse, unique and valuable the experiences are for performers and audience, and what the most diverse forms of stages mean for our culture and thus society."
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„PERFORMANCE“ – Frank Stefan Kimmel
on Thursday, September 1st 2022 at 5.00 p.m. in the Biotechnikum Art in the BiT, KWS SAAT SE & Co. KGaA Grimsehlstraße 31, 37574 Einbeck
The artist: Frank Stefan Kimmel
Frank Stefan Kimmel studied psychology, was active as a music producer and owner of his mobile recording studio while-others-sleep in the realization of classical and jazz productions and stood as a singer with band and own songs on stage. Furthermore he worked in marketing and press in the bicycle industry. Since 2009 he works exclusively as a professional photographer for portrait and corporate photography.
The artist Frank Stefan Kimmel
The artist Frank Stefan Kimmel
With the realization of the exhibition and the publication of the associated book "AUFTRITT" he puts an accent on his passion and fascination for photography, for life on and with the stage and the art associated with it.