The Ocean as Transit Space between Life and Death
A mechanised arena in which the dead and the living wander about. A card game, the stakes the future of the ocean floor, the history of the container and the present-day Black Atlantic. A casting for corpse actors and actresses. A DJ set for Water Babies. A cookery show and a funeral banquet. Welcome to the Waiting Room of Lost Steps.
It all begins with the scene of an overloaded boat on the Mediterranean. The passengers stand motionless for the whole of the crossing, the bodies pressed together form a piece of solid cargo, too much movement would capsize the boat. This image stands at the beginning of a Story of the Immobilized: it tells of people turned into cargo on slave ships, of time stilled for the goods on a long journey, of human pupae cryoconserved in nitrogen tanks awaiting their artificial resurrection. And it tells of the absence of the dead amongst the living. There is a lot of talk about the dead today, and even more about dying, but the dead and the ancestors don't wander about. They need a special milieu to be able to be present absent, as is their way. They find it in the Waiting Room of Lost Steps. The images and stories of the past and the future converge here, the former them (the living) meet the future us (the dead) and other immobilized. The catastrophe has always already happened, now everyone is romping around in the transit space of history. Brisk radio communication is going on here. In the Waiting Room of Lost Steps one can follow the communication on five radio channels in a walk-in and strictly synchronized performative installation.
The various scenes are all simultaneously active: a mechanically animated arena, a garden with water and television sprinkling, a game of tarot with the future of the ocean at stake, the morgue of a TV production, and a historically mission-conscious music channel. Experts from science, art, and economics share their knowledge on logistics, bathymetry, thanatology, corpse acting, or the Black Atlantic at each of these stations. Through headphones the audience can tune into each of the speech acts on five channels.
What if the boat had capsized? Onto what territory do those who drown on the high seas sink? We predict a coming conflict: the contemporary distribution of the ocean floor to the national states by the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the largest land allocation ever to take place, collides with a different, older sphere of influence. In the ocean depths, the fossil-fuel interests of the national states come up against the legendary territories of the Water Babies, the descendants of black women thrown overboard from slave ships who learnt to breathe underwater.
The Arena - The Milieu of the Dead
The heart of the performance is a mechanised, spiral-shaped arena that alternately includes and excludes viewers and protagonists and can transform into a stage, a cinema and a hearing room. In this special architecture the philosopher Petra Gehring, the cultural theorist Karin Harrasser, and the literary theorist and art historian Philipp Ekardt defend their research proposal on improving the conditions for producing a milieu of or for the dead. The review board is made up of the media philosopher Christiane Voss and the cultural theorist Hartmut Böhme.
The Tarot - Land and Sea
Not every theme is suitable for dialogue. Here, things happen move for move. Two competitors sit opposite one another, each has 10 cards for 10 arguments, theses, or stories. Round 1: the arguments of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf meet the visions of the Water Babies of the Black Atlantic. On one side the investigative journalists Alexander Lahl and Max Mönch, on the other the theorists Christina Sharpe (6.7) and Nana Adusei-Poku (7.7). Round 2: logistics is the joy of the seamless supply chain and also the levelling of the local. Is the container the smallest common unit of modernity or a Pandora's Box?The container expert Alexander Klose meets the Hamburg logistics experts Carlos Jahn (6.7), Ian Karan (7.7, 6:30 pm) and Detlef Aßmus (7.7., 9 pm).
The Garden - the Ecology of the Dead
In 2015/16 the film An Ecology of the Dead presented the Belgian philosopher Vinciane Despret. In her view, the sciences have created a particularly hostile environment for the dead through the arrogant academic distinction between fact and imagination, knowledge and faith, dead and living. Despret has collected stories of the living who have had contact with the dead. Storytelling seems to her to be the best way of making an inventive presence possible for the dead.
The Black Atlantic Sound - Songs and Stories
In 1995 the Detroit techno duo Drexciya releases the album The Quest and announces the surfacing of Drexciyans from the depths of the Black Atlantic: descendants of black women thrown overboard from slave ships while on the Middle Passage. They have learnt how to breathe underwater. When they resurface, at sea, up river, in harbour cities, they speak in sounds, clicks, cuts, swirls, spheres, treble and bass. The writer and DJ Thomas Meinecke follows the story of the Water Babies and Drexciyans of the Black Atlantic in songs and tales.
The Casting - a cooperation with the TV production company: dropdeadgorgeous
The German-Spanish-Namibian production company dropdeadgorgeous is looking for an actress to play the role of a corpse for their new miniseries Memory Speak. In a public workshop, the prospective actress is joined by the internationally renowned corpse actress Susanne Sachsse and her colleague Vaginal Davis, who provide instruction on method acting for corpse acting and the art of playing dead people. The workshop includes deep psychological and meditative exercises, effective methods for relaxing the face and advanced techniques for shallow breathing.
The Immobilized or: Salle des Pas Perdus.
A project by Mobile Academy Berlin in coproduction with Theater der Welt, funded by Elbkulturfonds.
The construction of the mechanical arena has been made possible by the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss. Supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and Media.
ADAPTATION / ANARCHY
/ ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
/ AUTONOMY / BODYSWAP
/ COMMUNITY / CRIPPLES
/ CRITICAL DISABILITY STUDIES
/ CYBORG / DEFICIENCY
/ DESIGN / DESIRE
/ EDUCATION / EMBODIMENT
/ ETHICS / FILM
/ FREAKS / FUTURE
/ HALLUCINATION / HEROES
AND HEROINES / HISTORY
/ HUMAN / HUMANISM
/ HUMAN RIGHTS / INABILITY
/ INCLUSION / INSANITY
/ LANGUAGE / MIGRATION
/ NORMALITY / OPTIMIZATION
/ PROSTHETICS / REPAIR
/ SENSIBILITY / SEX
/ SHAKESPEARE / SHAMANISM
/ SPECTACLE / SYNESTHESIA
/ VISUAL REGIME / WORK
“In an everyday life increasingly technologized and optimized,
people with disabilities are the resistant avant-garde of the 21st
century. Bodies not corresponding to the logics of efficiency and
eluding neo-liberal exploitability, subjects who put on show their
human dependence on technology and community, communication forms
and ways of behavior outside the norm. These are contemporary versions
of what one offhandedly terms ‘people’. Coyly use your
sex toys and feel contemporary, norm boy, I’ll show you cybersex
from another planet.”
Antony Lamont, Irish activist and journalist, who
suffers from a muscle disorder, sits in a wheelchair, and is hitched
to a medical ventilator.