MisplacedWomen?

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A day with Tanja Ostojić

In Performances, Stories, Train Station, Workshops, Zürich on March 6, 2021 at 9:09 pm

[Please read the original text in Sorani Kurdish language below]

[Translation to English]

A day with Tanja Ostojić

My name is Azad. I am a political refugee. I had to come to Switzerland from Kurdistan, with everything left behind. The land where I was born is a prohibited geography. Our language, culture, literature and art are forbidden.

Azad Colemêrg: Misplaced Women? performance intervention. Main train station Zurich, April 2019, Misplaced Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Videostill: contact zone

As someone who lived through all these bans, I met Tanja Ostojić one day. My view of art and performance has changed because of the experience with her Misplaced Woman? performance project. Ostojić broke all the narrow moulds on which women were placed, taking them out of an object position and giving them a completely different breath. It had revealed an important contradiction. She sent a message to the male dominated society which misplaces women in every sphere of life.

We all opened our bags and suitcases that day. Because capitalism first chains people with a bag. Then it squeezes our lives into it. It’s like we can’t live without that bag. All of our belongings are in it. This created awareness of humanity’s dependence on material things.

There are taboos in all societies. Why is there a fountain in the main train station of Zurich, decorated with blue light, which resembles a waterfall? The fountain is a taboo. Nobody should touch it. But there are no taboos for Ostojić. She stood under the water with her umbrella. She looked at shoe brands in the store and inspected them.

Azad Colemêrg: Misplaced Women? performance intervention. Main train station Zurich, April 2019, Misplaced Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Videostill: contact zone

That day we made a performance under the blue waterfall. I felt very free. I stood under the pouring water with my umbrella. I was very excited. I loved to be able to stand below the water because it was a socially forbidden place and therefore it seemed attractive to me. I was wet but it felt good.

We went to a shoe store. I even looked at the brands of shoes in the shop there. Together with the others of the group I was reading aloud where the shoes had been produced. We lifted the bottom of each shoe and read their place of production and mostly they were made in China, China, China. Then Ostojić gave the shoe seller an advertisement for a family poster. Me and some others followed her lead. 

We unpacked our suitcases.  All our luggage was gone.

With Misplaced Woman? Ostojić creates different images of women by opening up new possibilities, new spaces. It is not a woman in a kitchen, not a woman in the bedroom, but a woman imagining a blue sky.
A woman is not an item, which would fit in a suitcase.

Finally, I would like to conclude with the words of Simon de Beauvoir: “Suddenly in the kitchen, where her mother is washing dishes, the little girl realises that over the years, every afternoon at the same time, these hands have plunged into greasy water and wiped the china with a rough dish towel. And until death they will be subjected to these rites. Eat, sleep, clean … the years no longer reach toward the sky, they spread out identical and grey as a horizontal tablecloth; every day looks like the previous one; the present is eternal, useless, and hopeless.” Beauvoir asked herself if she will be able to live like that while placing the plates in the closet, and she said to herself, ‘no’. 

Tanja Ostojić taught us to say “No” to the male dominated, capitalist world.

Azad Colemêrg: Misplaced Women? performance intervention. Main train station Zurich, April 2019, Misplaced Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Videostill: contact zone

Yours truly,

Azad Colemêrg

July 11, 2019.


Azad Colemêrg is currently studying cinematography at the University of Zurich. He was born in 1988 in Kurdistan, near Colemêrg, in the very east of Turkey. Azad Colemêrg has been based in Switzerland since 2018 where he received a status of a political refugee in 2019. Before he had to flee the country, he had been working as a school teacher in Kurdistan and in Turkey.

Read more about Azad’s life

Performance intervention by Azad Colemêrg on April 4, 2019. has been realised in the frame of “Misplaced Women?” workshop by Tanja Ostojić at the ZhDK, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, in Zurich, April 2-4, 2019. 

Text written by Azad Colemêrg on July 11, 2019.

Edited by Tanja Ostojić and Olivia Jaques

Published for the first time by Tanja Ostojić on the Misplaced Women? blog

Video-stills by contact zone (Andri Schatz, Azad Colemêrg, Demian Jakob, Irem Gungez, Jan Stolze, Livia Thommen, Mercedes Borgunska, Olivia Jaques, Santiago Pina, Severin Hallauer, Zoe Wagner)

Azad Colemêrg: Misplaced Women? performance intervention. Main train station Zurich, April 2019, Misplaced Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Videostill: contact zone

Rojek bi Tanja Ostojić re

Navê min Azad e. Ez penaberek siyasî me. Ez ji Kurdistanê, kû her tiştên wî qedexe kirine, hatime Swîsrêyê. Axa ku ez lê ji dayik bûm welatekê qedexe ye. Ziman, çand, wêje û hunera me qedexe ye.

Ligel wan qedexên min dîtiyan da rojekê min Tanja Ostojić nas kir. Nêrîna min a huner û performansê de guheriye. Ji ber ku Ostojić performansa navê xwe „Misplaced Woman?“ da hemî qalibên teng ên ku jin tê da hatibû danîn, şikand û wan ji objeyekî da derxist û jiyanekî nû dida. Bal kişandi bû ser dubendiyek girîng. Wê peyamek dabû wan mirovên kû ewên jina li jiyanê da her dem cihekî xelet da dibînin.

Me hemûyan wê rojê  çente û valîzên xwe vekirin. Ji ber ku kapîtalîzm pêşî mirovan bi çente zincîr dike û paşê jî jiyana me dike wê çentê da. Wek ku em bê wê nikarin bijîn. Her tiştê me tê de ye. Wê agahdariyek dida mirovan ku jîyana me girêdayî objeya ye.

Di hemû civakan de tabû hene. Çima li rawesteka bajêr da ku wek sûlav bi rengek şîn da avek çêkirine? Ji ber ku ew tabû ye. Kes nikare destê xwe lê bide. Lê ji bo Ostojić tabû tine. Ew  bi sîwanê xwe ve binê avê de sekinî. Wî li firoşgehek cilûbergan li marqeyên pêlavan dinêrî û dixand.

Azad Colemêrg: Misplaced Women? performance intervention. Main train station Zurich, April 2019, Misplaced Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Videostill: contact zone

Ez bi sîwanê ve binê avê de rawestiyam. Wê rojê em bin sûlava şînda rawesteke da sekînîn. Min xwe gelek azadî hesiya. Ez gelek coş bûm. Min hez dikir kû ez bêcil bin avêda bisekinim. Lewre cihekî qedexe bû û ji ber wê ji min ra şêrîn dihat. Ez ter û av bûm , lê belê hêsekî xweş bû. Min li pêlavfiroşek da li marqeyên pêlavan dinêrî û me ligel yên din marqên pêlavan dixand kû kîderê berkêşandin e. Em çûne cihekî pêlavfiroş. Mê binê pêlava ra mezinand û marqe wan dixwandin û me digot marqê çînê çînê çînê çînê Paşê jî wê pêlavfiroş da reklamekî da posterekî malbatekî hebû. Me jî wan teqlit kir. Em wek wan sekînîn.

Me çentên xwe xalî kirin. Çi tiştên veşartî li çentê ne man. Her tiştên me holê ra bûn .

Ostojić li performansa xwe yan „Misplaced Woman“ da jinên kû mitfaxê û cihê razanê da derxist û xewnekî bi asmana şîn dida wan. Jin ne ewe ku li çenteyekî da cih bigire.

Azad Colemêrg: Misplaced Women? performance intervention. Main train station Zurich, April 2019, Misplaced Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Videostill: contact zone

Di dawiyê de, ez dixwazim bi gotinên Simon de Beauvoir biqedînim: „Rojek min alîkariya firaxên dayika xwe dikir. Diya min tebex dişûştin, min ziwa dikir. Ji pacerêya mitbaxê, cihên agirkûj û mitbaxên xaniyên din xuya dibûn. Li van mitbaxan jî, jinên din tawe firkandin , qûşxane spahî dikirin, sewzî vebijartin. Her roj xwarina firavîn, xwarina şîv, her roj firax; her roj paqijkirin; Ew karê çinehî bi saetan dirêj dibûji çinebûnê pê ve bêdawîtiya ku nagihîje tu derê. Ji çinebûnê pê ve jî bêarmancekî bêdawîtibû. Gelo ez ê karibim wusa bijîm?  Wek min tebex li dolavê cih digirt, min go te xwe  „Na“ Jiyana min bê guman dê bigihîje cihekî.”

Tanja Ostojić fêrî me kir ku em ji cîhana serdest a mêr û jiyana kapîtalîst re „Na“ dibêjin.

Silav û rêz

Azad Colemêrg

11 Tîrmeh 2019

Azad Colemêrg niha li Zanîngeha Zûrixê sinematografiyê dixwîne. Ew ji 1988an li Kurdistanê, bajarê Colemêrg ê, li rojhilatê Tirkiyê ji dayik bû. Piştî ku xwendina xwe qedand li Kurdistanê û Tirkiyê Mamosteyê dibistanê xebitî. Piştî hingê neçar ma ku ji welêt derkeve. Ew ji 2018an ve li Swîsreyê dijî, 2019an de statuya penaberiya siyasî stend.

Azad Colemêrg: Misplaced Women? performance intervention. Main train station Zurich, April 2019, Misplaced Women? workshop by Tanja Ostojić. Videostill: contact zone

Body Measuring and Dying Oranges

In Berlin, Performances, Railway-stations, Train Station, Workshops on March 3, 2021 at 10:55 pm

Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play

Performance by: Evdoxia Stafylaraki and Jiachen Xu

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

Text by: Evdoxia Stafylaraki

During my stay in Berlin, I had the opportunity to participate in the “Misplaced Women?” project by Tanja Ostojić. So, I made a performance with Alice (Jiachen Xu), posing questions about the rules set by society, and the women’s position in it in the course of time. Thus, the core concept of that performance was the diachronic nature of social inequalities, and the marginalisation of women in every aspect of life.

“Body Measuring and Dying Oranges Chess Play” by: Evdoxia Stafylaraki & Jiachen Xu, “Misplaced Women?” workshop by Tanja Ostojić, Ostkreuz Berlin, 2018.

That lack of women’s freedom that exists by tradition and the tight boundaries of a woman’s existence were presented through a ‘self- confinement’ act, by letting myself being tied up to a public clock pole with a tape measure, a strict metric system wrapping me ritualistically.

Alice’s proposal to develope this performance together with me, within the Ostojić’s Misplaced project context was the complement of the paradox I wanted to express. It should be noted that kitchen space is a space traditionally intended for the women as nurturers, housekeepers, and housewives; and Alice selected a placemat from that space to be the chess board that would bear some half-dead tangerines. Laying the tablecloth on the external social space, we set up the chess board, and the game started or rather kept evolving. A game, which none of us understands, a game with no justice, a game that is simply still being played beyond all reason.

Suddenly, a security guard interrupted the performance and demended that we leave the place. We tried to understand the reason for that in vain though; some passers-by translated the guard’s words for us, explaining that we should have been able to speak German since we were in Germany. Was it that we were both coming from a foreign country? Or was it that we were merely women? Or was it the combination of both that made him react so rudely? That’s a rhetorical question. His interference actually confirmed the term ‘misplaced women’ not only in words, but also in practice…

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

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Video-recording: Nati Canto, Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Video-editing: Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Text edited and first published by Tanja Ostojić, March 3, 2021 on the Misplaced Women? project blog

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

Jiachen completed a joint master degree in women’s and gender studies in Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and University of Oviedo, Spain. She is now based in Beijing, China.

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Please see more photos and read Jiachen’s review of this very performance published on the Misplaced Women? Blog in February 2019 

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Please visit as well archive of earlier contributions and posts from Berlin, from workshops, individual and group performances: 2009-2021:

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: Susan Merrick 

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Contribution by: Luciana Damiani 

Our Lady of Auguststraße by Tanja Ostojić

Contribution by Tanja Ostojić: Berlin, TXL Airport and Valentina Medda: Misplaced Women?, Performa New York, 2009. Simultanious delegated performance with the one by Tanja Ostojic, at Berlin TXL airport.

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

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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.

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