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Noa Eshkol

No Time to Dance

15. March 2024 – 25. August 2024

1/3 Installationview Noa Eshkol. No Time to Dance, Georg Kolbe Museum, 2024, Foto: Enric Duch
1/3 The Chamber Dance Quartet (Ensemble 1) dances "Peacocks" by Noa Eshkol in the Ohel Theater, Tel Aviv. Front: Noa Eshkol. Back (left to right): Naomi Polani, John G. Harries, Miral'e Sharon. photo: T. Brauner, 1954-1956 © The Noa Eshkol Foundation for Movement Notation, Holon, Israel
1/3 Noa Eshkol The Four Seasons, ca. 1980, cotton, sisal, wool, lurex, viscose, lamé, satin, polyester, jersey, cotton crepe, silk taffeta 484 x 484 cm © The Noa Eshkol Foundation for Movement Notation, Holon, Israel Foto: Jens Ziehe, Berlin courtesy The Noa Eshkol Foundation for Movement Notation, Holon, Israel, and neugerriemschneider, Berlin

“Eshkol-Wachman Movement Notation is a thinking tool that can teach people the art of observation, i.e. encourage them to aspire for the ultimate level of seeing. It does so by organizing the ‘material’ known as movements of the human body in relatively simple categories, thereby allowing us an insight (in-sight) into the complexity of this phenomenon as a whole.” Noa Eshkol 

According to the Israeli dancer, choreographer and artist Noa Eshkol (1924, Kibbutz Degania B, League of Nations Mandate for Palestine – 2007, Holon, Israel), dance should be performed without stage sets, costumes or music – her goal was absolute concentration on only the essential. In her choreographic pieces, body parts are treated as separate instruments, each with its own scope and possibilities. With a deep understanding of the body and spatiality, Eshkol developed choreographic works that she encoded in a unique system of notation that she developed together with the architect Abraham Wachmann in 1954: the Eshkol-Wachmann Notation (EWMN). The counterpoint to her minimalist choreographies and graphic dance notations are large-format and colour-intensive tapestries. Eshkol began to create these abstract textile compositions from collected and donated fabric scraps in 1973 at the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War.  

The Noa Eshkol Foundation for Movement Notation in Holon and the Chamber Dance Group ensemble preserve her unique legacy, which is still too little known in Germany. In 2024, Noa Eshkol would have turned 100. To mark the occasion, the Georg Kolbe Museum is presenting an exhibition showcasing the life and work of this groundbreaking choreographer and dancer, thus in a new way bringing to life the themes that are so important to the museum, such as modern dance and modernist architecture. The focus is on Eshkol’s research into movement since the 1950s, choreographies, language studies, dances, textile art and the notation system she developed for human and animal movements.
A presentation of the collection in the museum’s Schaudepot provides an insight into the theme of dance in the work of the sculptor Georg Kolbe. In addition, the surprising connection between Kolbe and Noa Eshkol is reconstructed on the basis of numerous documents: in 1926, Kolbe made a portrait of Gret Palucca and drew her dancing. From 1932, the dancer Tile Rössler was part of the school management at Palucca’s school before she was dismissed in April 1933 due to her Jewish origins. She emigrated to Palestine and founded her own school. Noa Eshkol took lessons there in the 1940s.

Eshkol’s work has inspired many contemporary artists. The multimedia works of Sharon Lockhart (*1964, Norwood, Massachusetts, USA), Omer Krieger (*1975, Tel Aviv, Israel) and Yael Bartana (*1970, Kfar Yehezkel, Israel) are juxtaposed with Eshkol’s works. A newly commissioned work by contemporary artist Ayumi Paul (*1980, Giessen, Germany) enrichs the exhibition. A one-day online conference explores possibilities of the digital space for monographic artists‘ estates and their mediation. In addition, the Norwegian choreographer and dancer Janne-Camilla Lyster will perform her solo piece Time and Solitude, which is inspired by Eshkol’s choreographies, as part of the exhibition.

A joint republication of the first Eshkol-Wachmann movement notation, produced in collaboration with KW Institute for Contemporary Art, bridges the gap between the performance Pause: The Noa Eshkol Chamber Dance Group at KW in the summer of 2023 and the exhibition at the Georg Kolbe Museum in 2024. The book will be presented at the Georg Kolbe Museum in March 2024.

On the occasion of the exhibition there will be a digital workshop on april 15, 2024: Activating a Collection. Artists’ Estates in the Digital Space.