Stockholm 30. November 2001 artgenda proposal for TetraPak >ReadyToCapture<! HafenCity - an Urban Space?<
'Urban Bernina','Would you like to try my trousers?' and 'May I ask you for a Hamburg-ride?'
Dear Malte Willms and Anke Haarmann,
My name is Elin Strand and I'm a Swedish Artist and Architect who is involved in the artgenda project in Hamburg 2002. I studied Architecture at Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London. I was invited quite late to the project by Ottilia Holmström who is coordinatior for artgenda in Stockholm. At the moment I'm just about to go to Teheran, where I'll work with an Art- and Architectureproject involving the Veil and Architecture as surface/mask. The reason why I'm writing to you is because I've got, at last, a clear idea about how I would like to participate in the artgenda project.
The TetraPak-group and your project sounds very interesting to me and I have developed a serie of projects based on a performance which I exhibited in London in Oct 2000, in combination with your HOST-vision. I would like to present the ideas to you and hopefully you are interested in having further discussions. What I would like to participate with are two collaborative performances at tetrapaks exhibition- and informationcenter + an additional activity in collaboration with Galerie Taubenstrase.
The main-performance appears as a multi-scaled urbanplanning-model including an everyday-changing/developing infrastructure with actual citizens in the scale 1:1. The basic structure of this three-station project is that interviews (made everyday) with Hamburg-citizens are continously communicated with the producers of the model + the third step citizens/exhibition-vistiors are asked for participation. The projects will be performed and produced by me in collaboration with Great Eastern Hotel (an Art- and Architecture group based in Stockholm: Lars Raattamaa, Architect/ Poet, Katarina Bonnevier Architect/ TheaterCreator, Klas Ruin, Architect and Elin Strand Artist/ Architect) and a group of Hamburg-based performers (further details see below) that are changing roles beween these three stations every day as a continous relay.
The working title for the first performace is 'Urban Bernina' (The performance has been presented as a less complex version at the Pump House Gallery, London Oct 2000):
A group of performers (9-10) are wearing the same dress/field/surface of soil/asphalt/fabric/map (1000-1200 squaremeters). They are sitting on stols with wheels and in front of them there are small tables with wheels. On the tables, coming up through the surface, stand sewingmachines. The sewingmachines functions as the tools for production, sewing, travelling, planning, designing everything from clothes in an intimate scale, drawing lines for the new plan for the HafenCity: interpretating and realizing ideas coming from the interviews with the Hamburg citizens; recording the negotiations (as stiches on the fabric) about the space between the performers/citizens when they are sewing and trying to find their way in this enourmous landscape/modell.
By using different material, colours(details from different religions), threads (Turkish, German, Swedish, Iranian thread), a Brodery-sewingmachine that can write names of streets and people who will live, work and walk there; other kinds of tools, wood, plastic,light.... etc. - the performance will work with Hamburg and HafenCity as an ongoing process involving Hamburgs history, plans for the future as well as the present situation. The modell appears as a weave; a paper that will be over-crowded; a bric-collage; a miniature-world; a surrealistic coat worn by it's producers; a dress filled with exact information about how many parking lots the politicians have planned in HafenCity and the Menu from the restaurant that was left over when they closed the petrolstation.
Who lives in Hamburg? How many nationalities? How many religions? Is it a segregated city or is it a multicultural mix? Where is HafenCity situated in relation to Hamburg as a whole? The modell that is developed during the period for the Biennale can be seen as a library, an archive for the sewn-in ambitions, aspirations, dreams that are communicated to the performers. The model becomes as a mobile organism that could move freely in the exhibitionspace, as a mobile workshop/orchestra/traffic amplifier/architecture office/the tailors shop and as a group of people living together and are trying to survive/realize the ideas of Hamburg citizens/get partners to collaborate with/ express their individuality. It will be a struggle that will create an everyday-changing sight.
The second project I suggest is quite dependent on the first, has the working-title May I ask you for a Hamburg-ride?:
Galerie Tauben Strase (Tjorg Beer) has taken an interesting initiative that would be very suitable as a complement to 'Urban Bernina': "Art Delivery Service - An Automobile art salon. On several days in specific places, artists will present their work out of cars. Artistic re-design of the problematic surfaces in Hamburg´s city landscape." What I would like to do is to use the car to invite different Hamburg-based guests everyday. The guests should represent all categories from Hamburg: children, refugees, municipal architects, teachers, office-people, unemployed, shopkeepers, tourists, politicians, doctors, priests, teenagers, racists, second generation refugees, artists, builders etc.
The guest will take the responsibilty for the map-reading and then they will tell the performer/driver about their Hamburg. What is important to them, where their everyday life is lived and all that in relation to the development of Hamburg in total and HafenCity in particular. Old personal stories, that Heinz got his first kiss at Karlsruher Strasse 1954, will appear on the modell side by side with the Iranian Arsalan Moghaddams dream about a Mosque side by side with a church in the HafenCity, with the green-party member Eva Knuphausens logic reason why is has to be one more park in Hamburg and why HafenCity would be the right place. The discussions are recorded and later delivered to the performaces working on the modell. They are listening to the tapes in freestyles (but it would also be interesting for the visitors to hear the stories) while they work.
The Third project that I suggest is a quite independent project but side by side with 'Urban Bernina', workingtitle: 'Would you like to try my trousers?' I have collaborated with the Australien dancer/ choreographer/ artist who is based in Hamburg. Paul Gazzola is in contact with the group of Hamburg-based dancers/performers who are interested in participating in this project. We collaborated in a Parasite-performance called 'Would you like to try his trousers?' at Modern Museum in Stockholm in Mars 2001 ('I'll never let you go', Pancea Festivals, curated by Mårten Spångberg). A developed version of the performace 'Would you like to try my trousers?' would be the last project that I suggest.
A mobile clothes-rack, with a small dressing room on wheels attached, is primarily based around the entrance area. A few people are working around the clothes-rack and are serving the visitors. People are asked if they would like to change their clothes, for an hour or so, with someone elses clothes? They can change mask/ identity/ gender/ religious belonging by just using the clothes on the clothes rack. We will provide the clothes-rack with certain dresses from many of the biggest nationality-groups in Hamburg: djallaba, chador, poncho etc. The clothes on display - on vistiors as well as on the rack - will make the individuals that Urban Planning involves, visible. The performance questions identity, surface and signs as a creator of space.
What connects 'Urban Bernina' and 'Would you like to try my trousers?' are the concentration on the surface; the mask.
The 19th century architect Gottfried Semper argues that the origin of architecture is to be found in the weaving of fabric, the enclosure of domestic space. In "The four Elements of Architecture" Semper makes an analysis of the wall-paintings and the sculptural wall-ornaments of classical Greek and Hellenistic Architecture. In opposition to previous interpretations he sees the origin of wall-painting not as a separate autonomous element attached to the walls but rather as "... panel paintings (even though not in their nature and factual). More correctly, they were painted wall-dressings." (Gottfried Semper, The Four Elements of Architecture and other Writings >§59<, translated by Harry Francis Malgrave and Wolfgang Herman, Cambridge Univerity Press.) In the same manner the ornaments have stepped out from the exteriour facade rather then having stepped in from the tradition of sculpture. "In Greek Architecture, both the art-form and decoration are so intimately bound together by this influence of the principle of surface-dressing that an isolated look at either is impossible." The surface; textiles, colour, texture, material quality becomes, according to Semper, the most important in the production of Architecture.
Through deconstructing the scale of Urban Planning (through personal interviews) and by looking at the specific details of the Surface that creates the city (the citizens clothes/masks) and to reconstruct all these details (words as well as a zips, wallpaper as well as lead) as an actual physical body/modell - it might be possible to reach closer to a (mis)understanding of the complexity that a City as big as Hamburg constitutes of.
I hope that you, even though I'm contacting very near the deadline the 7 December 2001, are interested in discussing my ideas.
I will be back in Stockholm by the 22 December although I've access to internet while I'm in Teheran, I hope.
Yours sincerely - Elin Strand
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