public space, participatory performance project
realized in Sonnenberg (Chemnitz, DE), July 2017
invited by Dialogfelder, klub solitar e.V.
I was invited for a 3 weeks residency in Chemnitz Germany, to develop a public space performance in the socially-problematic district of Sonnenberg (drugs and prostitution problems, as well as slowly gentrifying district at the same time).
This project led me to rethink the performative process, and its possibilities to create a community and exchange between people, who would rather not be exchanging and talking with each other.
The performance project:
In the first week, I found out about the cloth hangers, which still come from communist times, and are placed always in the courtyards of the block housing. Block houses are the main building units in Sonnenberg. Mostly these cloth hangers where abandoned, not cared of, rusty, and unused. In some cases they where used sometimes, but very rarely and not consequently. People seemed to hang their clothes solely inside their very small flats (small due to the time of building in communist times, when these flats where made for worker class families). I decided to work with theses cloth hangers, and give them a new look, in order to re-vive the often super silent, empty courtyard of the block houses.
I made information letters, for 200 flats in 3 different block houses, to inform them about the upcoming action: that somebody will paint the cloth hangers of their courtyard, and there will be free coffee, and cake for anybody who passes by.
I started to paint these cloth hangers in the courtyards, to bring exchange and live to theses places again. I was hanging white pieces of fabric while I was painting. I also offered to participate in the painting of the cloth hangers. My intention, to start an exchange with the people, to talk with them about their lives in the block houses, to share our stories, worked out. Several people came for coffee and talked with me or with each other, some even came to participate in the painting. The social problematics of the district where a main topic in the discussions, so that also very right and left wing opinions where clashing against each other. The diversity of the places showed their full face.
After one and a half weeks of daily painting and exchange with the neighborhood, I prepared for the final presentation. This was as well announced in the information letters to all inhabitants of the blockhousing.
I embroidered words and themes, I have talked with people about during my time of painting, on 20 white fabrics, such as: zu Hause (at home), Migration (migration), Zeit (time), Achtsamkeit (awareness), Kunst (art), Veränderung (change), Alkohol (alcohol), Dialog (dialogue), Arbeit (work), Ernährung (nutrition), etc.
For the final performance presentation, the institution who invited me organized a small documentation exhibition in an empty building in Sonnenberg, where the process of my action was shown on photos and text.
After a short explanation of the project, I invited all people to follow me. I had a bucket of wet white fabric, with the embroidery with me, and hanging clips for clothes as well as the straps for the cloth hangers. Alltogether we went to each of the blockhouses to hang the pieces of fabric with the embroidered words on it. Some inhabitants of the buildings participated in the happening, hanging together this pieces of fabric on the newly white cloth hangers.