MisplacedWomen?

Archive for the ‘Railway-stations’ Category

Misplaced Women? A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language

In Berlin, Performances, Railway-stations, Train Station, Train stations on July 15, 2019 at 11:04 am

Contribution by: Susan Merrick 

“Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, 30 minute performance by Susan Merrick

23.05.2019 Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station (Berlin, Germany)

Tanja invited me to consider presenting a performance for the Misplaced Women? project whilst I was working with her for a few days in Berlin. I’d asked Tanja if I could work with her on my own project ‘Practicing to Share’ and it seemed appropriate to actually work within each others projects during this time, to understand one another and to consider each others theme of work.

“Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, a 30 minute performance by Susan Merrick, 2019. 
Video recording: Tanja Ostojić. Video editing: Susan Merrick

I spent some time thinking about what would feel appropriate, and where. How it would fit to my own idea of misplaced, my feeling of ‘place’ while in Berlin, a city I’d only visited once before as a young woman. Also my feelings of my ‘[mis]placement’ within my work as a Sign Language Interpreter, working between two cultures, between two languages, being at times ‘invisible’, yet very visible.

Rather than cultivating a performance in any way Tanja simply gave me the performance score to look over and using the rucksack I already had with me, we chose to explore Berlin train station, Gesundbrunnen that was near to where we were working. 

Susan Merrick: “Misplaced Women?”, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station, 2019. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

I chose a position at the end of a platform. It felt quiet, intimate, and sat at a junction of two tracks. I have an affinity with train stations and much of my work has taken place in or around them. I have worked within busier positions but for this day I wanted some space and to see the location of Berlin behind me.

I began by removing my shoes and jumper. I wanted to be comfortable and to sit while I disclosed my belongings. I slowly removed each item from my bag, surprising myself by how much was in the bag that I had only emptied earlier that day (or so I thought!). Items of everyday use, but also items of specificity to the trip I was on, a camera, some shaving foam and razor – ready for some other work we were to do later – and a travel journal that I had written 17 years previously whilst on my only other visit to Berlin. 

Susan Merrick: “Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station, 2019. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

Often I allow my surroundings to influence my actions in my work, responding to the stimuli around me. I allowed these items to do the same to me, not planning but following what the items suggested to me. I was really interested in my position between the train tracks so I decided to perform the creation of a track, placing shaving foam on my leg in a line and shaving the hair from my leg in a strip, straight like a track. I wiped it clean with a red head scarf.

I then opened up my travel journal from 2002. I read and translated into British Sign Language (BSL), some of the pages that spoke of my previous visit to Berlin. The journey into the city on the train and a visit to the zoo where we couldn’t afford the photographs that were taken of us. The language miscommunications and the laughter of the train guard who found our worries over a door not closing hilarious. Our lack of money and our exhaustion at travelling around. Our decision to sit and wait 7 hours in a hostel reception waiting for a room and our reliance on the kindness of others.

Susan Merrick: “Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station, 2019. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

Using BSL in this way felt an appropriate challenge to the work, on a quiet platform, in a train station in Berlin, speaking only to the camera and to Tanja behind it, with no-one understanding me, using a language not native to the country, or even to me. A language that has become my profession, and that I have adopted now for over half my life, that works its way into my Art, and that I can never truly feel I belong.

Susan Merrick: “Misplaced Women?, A Translation of a Travel Diary in British Sign Language”, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station, 2019. Photo: Tanja Ostojić

Finally I took up my polaroid camera, taking a photograph of the semi circle of belongings surrounding my feet. Of Tanja watching me. Of the Train tracks reaching towards and away from me. 

Mis placed. Placed mistakenly. [Mis]placed

Lost. Unfound. In-between. Where am I?

As Artists where are we? Where do we belong? Who decides? Who finds us? Who loses us?

Susan Merrick is an Artist from the UK. She is also a Sign Language Interpreter and this profession greatly influences her performance practice.

Photos from performance on May 23, 2019 at Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Train Station were captured by Tanja Ostojić

Video recording: Tanja Ostojić.

Video editing: Susan Merrick

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from Berlin, from different workshops and individual or group performances:

Contribution by Nati Canto 

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Mad Kate

Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Older posts Berlin 2009: 

Contribution by Tanja Ostojić: Berlin, TXL Airport

and Valentina Medda: Misplaced Women?, Performa New York, 2009. Simultanious delegated perfromance with Tanja Ostojic, at Berlin TXL airport.

Berlin Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

In Berlin, Performances, Railway-stations, Workshops on February 2, 2019 at 10:42 pm

Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play

Performance by: Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Location: S-Bahn train stations Prenzlauer Allee and Ostkreuz, Berlin, January 23, 2018.

Text by: Jiachen

The performance consists of three parts: body measuring, dying oranges chess play, and the in-between or misplaced spaces. It is a result of spontaneous entanglement of ideas from Evdoxia (body measuring) and Jiachen (orange chess play) developed during Berlin itinerary of the “Misplaced Women?” workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Though the performance as an entity is inseparable from any of it’s parts, I will mainly look at the latter part and the surrounding forces in this writing piece. 

Within the workshop “Misplaced Women?” facilitated by Tanja Ostojić, words such as: misplaced, women, and the question mark, became the structuring forces of this performance. “Women” in its plural form, I ask, identified as a queer feminist woman of colour, who are included in its reference? Misplaced, as the adjective suggests, on one hand, a finished state, temporally or not, in comparison to the wording “displacing”; on the other, what is the defining state of “placement”, and I wander, defined by whom?  My thought thus arrives at the question mark. 

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Jiachen and Evdoxia Stafylaraki: “Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh and Nati Canto

Trinh T. Minh-ha is one of those feminist theorists who inspires me lastingly. She says, “Woman can never be defined. Bat, dog, chick, mutton, tart. Queen, madam, lady of pleasure. MISTRESS. Belle-de-nuit, woman of the street, fruit woman, fallen woman. Cow, vixen, bitch. Call girl, joy girl, working girl” (1986). This vivid and visual description of the ontological instability of women, especially for third world women in Minh-ha’s account, speaks for me. I gain my strength from reading works by black feminists and feminists of colour to survive joyfully, bravely and ambiguously in a seemingly constant misplaced/misplacing state, physically, psychologically, and beyond.

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Jiachen and Evdoxia Stafylaraki: “Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

I went to the workshop with an expectation to actualise certain struggling thoughts through body performances. The result, one week after the workshop, is way more than that. It is already very therapeutic for me to be surrounded by women bravely and creatively in the face of different forms of displacement struggles. And to share and do something collectively through an honest and caring sharing of our vulnerabilities. How wonderful is that!

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Jiachen and Evdoxia Stafylaraki: “Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Nati Canto and Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

 

In terms of the specific performance collaborated with Eva (Evdoxia Stafylaraki), I am a bit resistant to translate the process into languages. I would like to share some details that might be interesting to know. I come across those seven dying oranges at two friend’s kitchen. They were forgotten in the corner, waiting to be thrown away into trash. I noticed them and initially arranged them on the back placemat on the kitchen table. This was the birth of the idea “dying oranges chess play”. Number seven bears different meanings in different cultural contexts. In my memory it signifies a return in I-Ching. I guess there is always a piece of me strives for a return, even though the “original” place is non-existent anymore. To mobilise the nostalgia feeling evoked by “return” to the on-going chess play in public transportation stations seems to be one of the articulations during the chess play part of the performance. No one is setting the rules in the present, but there are waves of ghosts surrounding the gameplay. These waves of ghosts in my retrospective reading were displaced by the first part of the performance: the body measuring. Constant decision: making or un-making, and the questions of the aesthetics of misplaced existence are brought to the very surface, and will hopefully get revolved and transformed, step by step.

Text by: Jiachen Xu

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Video and photos: Nati Canto, Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Edited and first published by Tanja Ostojić, 2018-19 on the Misplaced Women? project blog

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Jiachen recently finished a joint master degree in women’s and gender studies in Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and University of Oviedo, Spain.

Evdoxia Stafylaraki is mathematician, sculptor and performance artist from Chania, Greece.

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Please visit as well other contributions and posts from the same workshops:

Contribution by Mad Kate

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Public Presentation of the Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, January 2018

Dagmara Bilon realised 3 performances on gentrification, home and identity in the frame of “Misplaced Women?” workshop hosted by LADA London, December 13 & 14, 2016

In Homes, London, Performances, Railway-stations, Workshops on March 13, 2017 at 1:12 pm

In the frame of Tanja Ostojić´s “Misplaced Women?” workshop hosted by Live Arts Development Agency London, on December 13 & 14, 2016, Dagmara Bilon realised 3 performance interventions which she has called “embodied investigations into home and identity; a protest against becoming a silenced and isolated as wallpaper, dedicated to the ever-changing landscape of London in the mist of gentrification.” 

For my first intervention I chose to unpack my heavy back-pack on  a street corner in Hackney Wick near the neighborhood’s formerly longest occupied squat. I took of my heavy rucksack from my back and start to unpack. It’s full of various objects, accumulated over time: my childhood toys, my children’s toys, things I need for work, such as gaffe-tape, iPad, mobile phone, cigarettes, wire, lots of stones to ground me, so as not to fly away, a black fabric sphere that symbolised the veil of grief for the loss of my father, white pieces of fabric that I use to collect my menstrual blood, pens, pencils, a toy-snake. As I unpack my bag it feels never ending. Bits and pieces of glitter, receipts, notes… Lots and lots of junk, but to me – a trail of my existence. All the objects are bare on the wet concrete floor. While I see them, I feel uncertain of my survival, slightly embarrassed, like a public emptying of the bowels, spilling of my organs. I don’t dare to look into anyone’s eyes;I start to pack my bag as quickly as I possibly can, stuffing things back inside my dirty old rucksack. But there is always something more, always something else spilling out…

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My second performance featured a surreal procession of a displaced female body in a red suitcase, walking in black high heels and black velvet tight leggings over a Bridge in Olympic Park, that leads to London’s biggest shopping mall,Westfield Stratford. In the morning on that day, I took my large red suitcase from my room that contains all my dresses and props from previous London performances. This is when the performance started. I carried the suitcase from my room in South East London to Hackney,down the stairs, down the road, and on public transport. While walking I’m reminiscing of my immigrationat the age of three with my mother from Poland to Germany, with one and only suitcase filled with our possessions. In my associations of a single woman standing by a bus stop with a big red suitcase, symbolises vulnerability danger, but also power. The power to move on. As I travel I notice the eyes of people peeking and then quickly shifting back onto their daily newspaper or smart phone.

Then,  standing by a bridge together with the group of participants from the “Misplaced Woman?” workshop. I open my suitcase and hand my items one by one to individuals in the group. To me this is a most humane and kind experience. To have my items held by others. I take off my golden sandals and step inside my black high heel shoes and through the two holes I have cut in the red suitcase. I squeeze my body into the suitcase and ask a volunteer from the group to lock the suitcase and point me straight over the bridge. I’m inside now, locked in. I can’t see where I am going. My legs are wobbly. The core of my body contorted. I want to speak: “am I going into the right direction?” — but I  don’t have a voice ‘in there’, inside the suitcase. Spontaneously, a member of the group directs me how to walk forwards. I feel even more powerless, cut off and disorientated. I have no choice but to follow instructions and to focus on my feet, to stay on the ground and continue moving forward.

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Dagmara Bilon performing “Misplaced Women?” in the Olympic Park, London, in frame of Tanja Ostojic´s workshop (December 2016)

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For my third performance, I shared an intervention with three women from the “Misplaced Woman?” workshop at Hackney Wick Overground Station. I chose to locate myself on the other side of the platform. It was not ideal for documenting the action. I deliberately wanted to experience the gap between us and the feeling of loosing side of each other as trains move in and out of the platform.

The last time I saw my father was on the other side of a platform in 1985.

I place my red suitcase on the floor and slowly unpack all my dresses and props from previous London performances. Each of them with a story to tell, the dust of previous locations, the smell of sweat or dump, and leave a trace of these items around me that for a sort of island.

I’m standing in the middle of the island and at last pull out a huge Cunt Sculpture. I stand up on the bench “on my island” and hold up my Cunt up high. A train comes into the platform. People are going in and out. A man takes a picture from within the train. The doors are closing. The train moves out again.

I step off the bench, pack up my suitcase again and as I walk over to the other side of the platform to join the others, a mother with a baby looks at me beaming and asks if it was a vagina that I was holding up?

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Text written by Dagmara Bilon

Edited by Tanja Ostojić and Danyel Ferreri

Photos featured in this post taken by the “Misplaced Women?” workshop participants, London, and Aleksandar Utjesinovic

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Dagmara Bilon (b.1981) is a London based Polish/German Performance Artist, Co-Founder of The Purple Ladies Performance Collective, Artist Mentor on The Talking Gender Project and Project Manager of The MotherHouse. Since graduating in 2003 from Trinity Laban with a degree in Dance Theater she has worked as a performer for companies such as Punchdrunk, Psychological Art Circus, The Bones Theater, Marissa Carnesky, Ear Cinema and Lundahl&Seitl. Simultaneously she created and produced her own independent performance projects including staged works, sight specific interventions and one to one performances. More recently she focused on developing performance actions that challenge the notions of motherhood and identity and exhibited work alongside The Desperate Art Wives. She has also conducted various community arts led projects engaging young people in the discourse of gender, sexuality and identity. www.dagmarabilon.com

La Grand Escalier de la Gare du Saint Charles a Marseille, France, December 17, 2015.

In Marseille, Railway-stations on December 18, 2015 at 9:53 am

On December 17, 2015, from about 12:45 to 13:30h, on my way from village of Vauvenargue and Aix-en-Provence to Géneve, I performed my “Missplaced Women?” on la Grand Escalier de la Gare du Saint Charles a Marseille. As I had almost an hour of time, while waiting for my TGV train, I enjoyed the gorgeous staircase and the view from the top. I enjoyed watching people passing by. People in transit and people hanging out there. I took time to find inside of my suitcase things I actually needed in my hand bag, and I took a moment to refresh my vernis that got worn out in past few days in la Provence. Young guy whom I asked for assistance to capture a photo of me did it with a pleasure and used a chance to warn me that i should not ask other people for such favour as they might run away with my photo camera. As he gave me back my camera, he advised me as well to pack my stuff and to keep them close to myself.

Jasmina Tešanović´s Story

In Borders, Railway-stations, Stories on October 18, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Here I am now as a wannabe European woman traveling alone. Because you see, women don’t travel alone; they travel with their men, families or friends. If they are alone, it means they are lost or dangerous. I always get those looks and check ups, even friendly offers.

I entered in the first comfortable train heading north… to even more United Europe.

Border officers were entering my train, checking us, and it all went well, until we managed to come across one small piece of one small country that once used to be called Yugoslavia, that once used to be my own country.

I didn’t have the proper papers, they claimed. Politely, they took me out off the train, and even more delicately, they locked me behind bars. A small prison hut, really, with two young officers watching me from outside with guns.

Then they went through my suitcase, then through my hand bag and then through my computer.

They were amused:

– So, what are you doing here, madame, smuggling yourself in our country without a visa?

– No, I wasn’t , I said bewildered, I was just traveling back home.

– But you took the wrong train, you cannot travel Europe without a visa.

– No, I said, I just took a train that happens to cross this small country, a nation smaller than the city I come from, a country where the plastic covers on the haystacks look fancier than tablecloths in my country.

– We will have to charge you with an attempt to cross our border illegally.

– But I legally gave you my passport. It was a mistake, my country split up and Europe united…you know, it was such a big confusion…

– We don’t remember your ex-country. The two young blonde border officers stared at me.

I looked at them. Of course, they were too young to remember or even know, why would they care, they were just doing their job.

– You are a writer, one of them says.

– Yes, I am.

– What do you write about, asks he.

– Stuff like this really, I answered vividly, crossing the borders, messing with laws and people.

He was taken aback.

– We must take you immediately to your embassy, in the capital.

– No, I must call my lawyer, you must give me the phone.

It was actually a moment of hands-on struggle between us: the European new order and non-European individual.

The young officer said:

– If we let you go into no-man’s land between borders, you can wait for a couple of hours over there, and then enter Croatia, the country you travelled from. Since from tomorrow, the visa regime in Croatia for Serbs is abolished. You could sleep in the no-man’s land if they don’t let you into Croatia.

– It’ s a deal, I said.

And we did it.

They deported me a couple of kilometers, into nobody’s land where there was literally nothing. I walked slowly, dragging my luggage to the border, which soon enough would stop being one. I reached it, I crossed it because of a kind officer who looked the other way, and I took another train south.

Then a middle aged train conductor checked my new ticket to the south.

– Didn’t you go north only a couple of hours ago?

– Yes I did, I said. I tried to reach to my same destination but I took the wrong direction.

– Don’t you read your tickets, check your trains?

– No I don’t, I said peevishly, as if admitting that I never go to doctors for a regular check up.

– Well you should madame, this world today is all about trains and proper tickets and papers.

He was right: I looked at his kind elderly face with wrinkles, the devoted body bent over his conductor’s heavy bag, his stamps lost in a smaller bag. I imagined his long-sought pension round the corner, his future life, that of a railway clerk in pension: a little bit of gardening, a little bit of cooking, and a lot of memories of trips, and people he met and treated, or mistreated.

I remembered Walter Benjamin’s suicide at the border while waiting for a visa that arrived only hours too late. A Jew trying to escape Nazi Germany: a philosopher trying to describe the world he was living in. Which Benjamin did perfectly: only he did not have the patience and strength to survive it.

By Jasmina Tešanović

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Editorial comment:

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This story has been written in Jun 2003 at the time when visa regime between Croatia and Serbia has been finally abandoned. But Serbian passport holders still needed a visa for Slovenia. (Slovenia joined the European Union one year later, on 1 May 2004). Jasmina Tešanović actually traveled from Zagreb to Belgrade. The train she took first was going over Slovenia, then she had to change to the one that was going from Zagreb to Belgrade over Budapest and where she would not need a visa.

Jasmina Tešanović is a women without homeland and without mother tongue, who lives and works on-line.

This story that she has kindly contributed to the “Missplaced Women?” blog is a part from her on-line book in english: ”My Life Without Me”. In Serbian language “Moj zivot bez mene”, has been publish by Rende, Belgrade in  2013. Italian version  “La mia vita senza di me”, Infinito, Bologna, 2014.

La Grand Escalier de la Gare du Saint Charles a Marseille, September 20, 2013

In Marseille, Railway-stations on March 30, 2015 at 3:13 pm

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1274395_10151597718535793_1380035907_o“Misplaced Women?” performance by Tanja Ostojic on the
La Grand Escalier de la Gare du Saint Charles a Marseille, September 20, 2013.
With the participation of:
Jane Kay Park,
Emma-Edvige Ungaro,
Alix Denambride,
Kim Mc Cafferty,
Robyn Hambrook,
Helen Averley
Patricia Verity
and Tanja Ostojic

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Production: Préavis de Désordre Urbain and Red Plexus, Marseille 2013

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Postscript: Robin lost her passport.

 

 

Photos: Jane Park

 

Bergen, Main Train Station, November 2, 2011

In Bergen, Railway-stations on November 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Misplaced Women? Marking the City
Performed by Pavana Reid
at Bergen Main Train station, on November 2, 2011 at 12:05.

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The train station was selected as a strategic place in regards to mapping a city in relation to migration. It holds a significant importance in Bergen in regards to mobility.

Pavana Reid is originally from Thailand,but has lived in Nord-Irland since 1988. Comutes now between Belfast and Bergen. She is a member of Bbeyond, performance-organization in Belfast.

The question of ones identity both as an individual and as a part of a community is always a lot more complicated than we can imagine. If an identity is what describes who we truly are, then it has to change with us, not just conform to a certain type, or group. As an individual, my way of life; the way I live and what I believe determine who I am not the idea of what I or other people think of me.

http://www.flickr.com/people/greenpapaya/

Photo: Mariel Lødum

Organized by Stiftelsen 3,14
http://www.stiftelsen314.com/Stiftelsen314/Performance.htm

Zagreb (Croatia), Central train station, June 25, 2009

In Railway-stations, Zagreb on November 4, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Misplaced Women?

Performed by Hyla Willis

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On the way from Pittsburgh to Zagreb, my luggage was misplaced for several days. I bought some PSi conference t shirts and a few other cheap things to wear in the complex of underground shops at the train station. I changed clothes, combed my hair and repacked the old and new items in the backpack I had carried on board the plane. This was performed behind the train station: a place that seemed to host an entirely different demographic of people and businesses than the “front” of the station did. It gave me strange recollections of a very itinerant period in my childhood when a sturdy cardboard box for furniture or a bit of privacy for grooming were cherished commodities.
At the same time, I was fully aware of the Kunas in my pocket and the cozy hotel room I was sharing a few blocks away.

Photos: subRosa

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