“CAN you help me walk across the room, please?” asks dancer Helka Kaski, as I wander past her in the gallery.
Surrounded by static artworks in GoMA’s Every Day exhibition, Kaski’s living, breathing presence is already intriguing – but that question piques my interest yet further.
What does she want me to do? Guide her by the arm? Carry her? No, the answer is much more cerebral and, it transpires, utterly fascinating. What Kaski is looking for is a set of instructions. Yet suddenly, the thing I have been doing successfully for decades escapes me. Walking is something you just do, if you can – it’s not something you think about.
The next ten minutes are spent accessing the part of my brain that tells my body how to move. Lift your heel, bend your knee, swing your arms – slowly it all starts to fall into place, until eventually Kaski is walking across the gallery. It feels like such an achievement – a true piece of teamwork.
Later I watch a man help Kaski stand up from a supine position – with the same sense of satisfaction at the end.
This, of course, is exactly the result choreographer Siobhan Davies was looking for. To give people space and time to think about the movements we carry out without thinking.
Placing Manual in an exhibition of modern art works, which also take an off-kilter look at everyday objects, only added to our appreciation of how beautiful and clever the human body really is.