"Stream of Images"
Helmut Ploebst
Falter, 2000

The pieces by the German performer Raimund Hoghe are like love-letters. You read them attentively and never again forget them.

In order to describe Raimund Hoghe's work, one has to sit down, shut one's eyes and recollect. Anyone who has seen Meinwärts, Chambre séparée, Dialogue with Charlotte or Lettere amorose will see a stream of fascinating images arise in their memory. In the midst of this stream stands, inescapably, a small, darkly-dressed, hump-backed middle-aged man. He looks at us.
We see his keen gaze. Hoghe is one of the very great figures of recent German dance theatre. For ten years he was able to train his vision as a dramaturge to the leading German choreographer Pina Bausch. For the weekly paper Die Zeit he wrote now famous portraits of people whom he considered important. He cared for the poetess Rose Ausländer when she was bedridden; she dictated her last poems to him.
This great small man has an exceptional, let us say loving, relationship with people. He takes the circumstances in which people live so seriously that he makes them into the topics of his plays. And he has another rare quality: when something is beautiful and moving, he does not mind. On the contrary, he picks it up and shows it to us.
Raimund Hoghe creates emphatically political dance theatre, and talks about what disturbs us, like nationalism, the brown patches in our past and how they are now beginning to seep through into our white West. He reminds us that there are still AIDS illnesses and that sexual proclivity should not be a reason for discrimination. But because we live in a fragmented, xenophobic society, equal rights before the law remain wishful thinking.
Hoghe collaborates with the artist Luca Giacomo Schulte but is his own actor and choreographer. His dramaturgy is radical and declines to use dazzling tricks. He is a master of light, weaves sparkling tapestries of music and in his stage rituals he succeeds in rousing to poetic life the symbolic force of little things.

The claim that Lettere amorose is his masterpiece is not entirely correct, since he has until now offered us nothing but masterpieces. In addition, the audience is completely in its own hands - as in life itself. The spectator must be receptive to the special, otherwise it will not open up. One does not read a love-letter at a glance. Nor may one impatiently 'consume' one of Hoghe's plays. To describe Hoghe, one must allow memory to do its wondrous work.

©Helmut Ploebst
(translated by Gregory Ball)
Falter Special, 27/2000