Menu Close
Charlotte Bösling
Doctoral candidate, third cohort (2023-2026)

Choreographies of (Not)Falling

Although it is often the ascent in a vertical movement that marks the success of climbing, it is the fall that finds its way into the audiovisual representation of the sport. Based on mountain-, expedition and climbing films, the dissertation project Choreographies of (not-)falling examines the dialectic of (not-)falling.
By depicting falling bodies, climbing films show “edgework”[1] at the moment of loss of control. While successful edgework actively maintains control over movement and body, the moment of falling marks the crossing of the boundary and the loss of control. The dissertation project investigates how bodies are choreographed (by media, among others) to avoid falling or to maintain autonomy in falling. It also examines the choreography of film-making teams and bodies, which represents another edgework moment, and looks at it in close conjunction with media and technology history in the performative sports moment. Because of its risk of injury or death, falling can be understood as a taboo subject and event that evokes reactions of a visceral nature in the spectating body. Climbing films can also inspire, teach movement, be utilized to train and thus be visual agents that access the body.  A social history of early mountain films, the notion of conquest and verticality and their imagery of colonized, gendered, working and able bodies that still influence today’s media will be critically examined.


[1] Lyng, Stephen. Edgework: A Social Psychological Analysis of Voluntary Risk Taking. University of Chicago, 1990.


Fig. 1:
FREE SOLO (US 2018, Vasarhelyi & Chin): Dean Potter in Yosemite
Fig. 2:
FREE SOLO (US 2018, Vasarhelyi & Chin): Mikey Schaefer filming El Capitan
Fig. 3:
THE HIGH ROAD (US 2019, Reel Rock & Sender Films): Nina Williams in a Highball


Charlotte Bösling is a research assistant at the Philipps-Universität Marburg and is currently doing her PhD in the research training group “Configurations of Film” at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt. She is an affiliated member with the research project Delocating Mountains: Cinematic Landscapes and the Alpine Model at university Innsbruck. She studied Applied Theatre Studies at the Justus Liebig University Giessen and completed the master’s program “Media and Cultural Practice” at the Philipps-University Marburg. From 2019-2022 she directed the “Theater neben dem Turm” in Marburg with Kristin Gerwien and Rolf Michenfelder. Since 2015 Charlotte Bösling has been working as a freelance photographer, videographer and director with various artists and groups, at Schauspiel Frankfurt, the Women’s Bouldering Festival Fontainebleau, Künstler*innenhaus Mousonturm and the memorial sites Augustaschacht and Gestapokeller, among others. 2023 saw the release of “Beyond the Gaze,” a ‘teaching’ film written by Prof. Dr. Greta Olson, which Charlotte directed and which takes a critical look at the production and reception of films. Her research interests include body history and body practices, film aesthetics, sports and utility film and non-theatrical film, theatre, performativity and film.