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The work of Martin Zimmermann

Humour, magic and absurdity are the unique features of Martin Zimmermann’s artistic work. For his plays he creates bizarre worlds and stages his figures and unusual objects. He often takes everyday things from reality and places them in parallel worlds where they seem strangely out of place and absurd. He throws conventions out of kilter, questions regularities, reveals the invisible, makes the improbable appear to be true and incites the viewer to think differently.

If Zimmermann himself does not play a part in his plays, he stages extraordinary dancers, actors and virtuoso artists and lets them become accomplices in his tragicomic universe. The artist peels out the character silhouette of each individual figure with the same precision, care and attention to detail as he models the stage set. The choreographic signature of Martin Zimmermann is characterized by the tight rhythm with which images and scenes follow one another. At the core of his work is the dialogue between the human body and objects with lives of their own, which he allows to meet and interact in the mostly unstable and threatening space. At the beginning of his work there is the word, which dissolves in the creative process and leaves room for a physical and visual performance without words. The human being in all its complexity is at the centre.

Biography

The choreographer, theater director, stage designer and performer Martin Zimmermann, born in 1970, grew up in the small village of Wildberg (CH) and, after an apprenticeship as an interior designer, he graduated from the Centre National des Arts du Cirque (CNAC) in Paris.  With the final graduation piece, Le cri du Caméléon, he toured around the world for three years and returned to Zurich, where he began to develop his own visual universe. For more than 25 years, he has been inventing, choreographing and staging visual and physical theater without words, whose mixture of contemporary circus, dance, theater and spectacular stage installations inspires a large audience. Making art accessible to all and campaigning for more inclusion and diversity are issues that are particularly close to his heart. For his plays, he creates bizarre and strange worlds in which everyday objects are shifted into parallel, often absurd worlds. He breaks with conventions, reveals the invisible, makes the improbable appear true and encourages the audience to think in new ways. At the core of his work lies the dialog between the human body and objects with a life of their own, which he allows to meet and interact with each other in unstable and threatening environments. The human being in all its complexity is at the center of his interest. His plays are performed worldwide, including the BAM New York, TOHU-Montréal, Tokyo Metropolitan Theater, Théâtre de la Ville-Paris, Barbican à Londres, Sydney Opera House, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, le Hongkong City Hall, Théâtre de Carouge, Schauspielhaus Zürich, Festival d’Avignon, NTGent and the Fondation Beyeler art museum, to name but a few.

Zimmermann’s stage designs have won the Swiss Design Award three times in a row. In 2021, Martin Zimmermann received the highest Swiss theater award, the prestigious Grand Prix Performing Arts / Hans-Reinhart-Ring 2021. Martin Zimmermann is Associated Artist at maisondelaculture de Bourges / Scène Nationale.

Awards

  • 2021 Swiss Grand Award for the Performing Arts / Hans Reinhart Ring
  • 2013 Foundation Heinz Spoerli Award
  • 2011 Swiss Design Award, stage design
  • 2011 Argus Angel Award, Brighton Festival
  • 2010 Swiss Design Award, stage design
  • 2010 Culture Promotion Prize of the Canton of Zurich
  • 2009 Swiss Dance and Choreography Prize
  • 2008 Swiss Design Award, stage desing
  • 2008 Prix suisse de l’innovation de l’ATP
  • 2007 Prix Mimos, 25ème festival international, Périgueux
  • 2006 Audience Award, Valladolid festival international
  • 2000 Audience Award, Belgrade Int. Theater Festival

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