Action in the Underground. U1 Ubahn. Berlin, 2014
The action reflects upon the underground as a liminal space where time and our regular modes of being are temporarily re-contextualized and in limbo. I consider it as a transitional space and (as D.W. Winnicott elaborated) a space of third-reality and play, where inner and outer worlds collide, fiction and reality overlap, and true aspects of being can manifest. I conceived the intervention as a playful experiment that expresses the tension between intimacy and isolation that is so prevalent in our society today. The performers were guided to embody a living metaphor for this contradiction. A need to be seen and to be close to others, while at the same time keeping one’s true self hidden, and/or avoiding real intimacy in favor of superficial interaction. The performance reflects the masks that we wear in the different spaces that we occupy, of performativity in our everyday existence. It additionally challenges the invisible boundaries and unspoken rules that govern how individuals share communal space, and the possibilities of play to open new dimensions of communication and being.
The intervention unfolded very subtly in one car as the train ran back and forth along the U1 line. Beginning at the first stop on the west end - Uhlandstrasse, the car was almost empty with only a few passengers. One performer arrived, her face covered with a pink bag. Though there were many empty spaces, she sat close beside a lone passenger, leaning very intimately toward him. At the next station another performer arrived, also wearing a pink bag, repeating a similar action. At the 3rd stop, a third performer arrived, and so on. Through these gestures a collaborative energy developed between the performers and public that shifted between extremes as the car filled up and emptied out with new passengers. Documented with a hidden camera and 2 hidden sound recorders, the experiment went on for the entire journey of the U1 - 12 stops up to Warschauerstraße, 12 performers, 12 pink heads. The process reversed itself on the return trip back, and continued as such, back and forth, for several hours.
Hidden video and audio documentation: Sebastian Bordirsky, Aga Tamiola
Performers: Summer Banks, Jenn Edwards, Karina Suarez Bosche, Christine Cheung, Cecilia Erismann, Nathalie Fari, Irene Cortina Gonzalez, Edvard Lammervo, Minna Partenan, Irene Pascual, Troels Primdahl, Hanae Utamura