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.
Choreographer, theater director, set designer and performer Martin Zimmermann grew up in a small Swiss village in Wildberg. After studying for a degree in interior design in Zurich, 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 20 years he has been inventing, choreographing and staging visual and physical theater without words from Zurich, with a mixture of circus, dance, theater and spectacular stage installations that has delighted audiences worldwide. In his theater pieces he creates bizarre and strange worlds inhabited by bizarre characters and objects. He often takes everyday things from reality and places them in parallel worlds where they seem strangely out of place and absurd. He overturns conventions, questions laws, reveals the invisible, makes the improbable seem true, and incites viewers to think differently. The core of his work is the dialogue between the human body and objects that have a life of their own, who then interact in an unstable and threatening space. The human being in all its complexity is at the heart of it all.
His pieces have been performed in institutions and theaters worldwide, for example at BAM New York, Tokyo Metropolitan Theater, Théâtre de la Ville Paris, Barbican London, Sydney Opera House, Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, Théâtre Vidy Lausanne, Hong Kong City Hall, Zürcher Theater Spektakel, Festival d’Avignon, NTGent or the Kunstmuseum Fondation Beyeler, to name a few. Zimmermann’s stage designs have won the Swiss Design Award three times in a row. He is a recipient of the prestigious Swiss Grand Award for the Performing Arts / Hans Reinhart Ring 2021.
This multi-talented artist has for the last twenty years broken down barriers, made art accessible to all, and is a great advocate for inclusion and diversity.
Martin Zimmermann is an Associated Artist at maisondelaculture de Bourges / Scène Nationale and at Tanzhaus Zürich.
- 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