MisplacedWomen?

Posts Tagged ‘#MadKate’

Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

In Berlin, Workshops on February 5, 2019 at 5:24 pm

Group Interventions of Mapping around the neighborhood of Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin-Weißensee, 23.01.2018.

A contribution by Mad Kate

Participants: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Kathryn Fischer aka Mad Kate

Listen to the Soundscape Weißensee

It was important to me to begin our interventions by understanding some answers to the question: “Where am I?” (politically, socially, economically)

Since I have lived in Berlin for 14 years, I am familiar with many neighborhoods, but never with this neighborhood in detail. I have performed at the Delphi Theater down the road, but this is my only interaction with the neighborhood. The Delphi is a very old “peoples theater” in Berlin and so I knew that this neighborhood had a history of an art scene, but at the same time is not a very busy or gentrified area. I know simply by being inside the Kunsthalle that this kind of large space for experimental workshops such as these one — “Misplaced Women?” By Tanja Ostojić — is increasingly rare. Many recent events at Kunsthalle have been committed to postcolonial discourse and bringing attention to the works of nonwhite artists—the kind of work that is not typically given spaces in more commercial areas of Berlin or at larger galleries. This already gives me a clue that the neighborhood is still affordable enough for a place like this to exist, while at the same time hints that the art scene may again be growing around here. 

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photo: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani

As a general practice before performing, I have been trying to get into the habit of understanding my sociopolitical context. This means “mapping” the area, using the “stage” (the venue) as my centering point, and working my way directionally around the center space, taking in sights, subtle changes, reading clues about the demographics of businesses and people on the streets. I also try to talk to people as much as possible to find out a bit more about the neighborhood and who is living there. 

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photo: Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate

Gaby, Tanya, Sajan, and myself all decided to go about mapping the area. I took along my sound recorder and gave it to Tanya for most of our journey so she could experience being immersed in the sounds around us. She told me that it was an extremely psychedelic experience to her! Gaby and I took photos, made sounds, made “found instruments” and marked different areas with string. We also sometimes mirrored physical shapes with our bodies. 

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, 2018.

Listen to the Soundscape Weißensee

I noted down a “map” of our walk and noticed places of new development, abandoned buildings, the types of businesses, and a conversation I had with one artisan who had recently moved there. She was a paper maker who had also found a place to rent in the neighborhood. She has a small handmade paper business on a quiet side street. There were other “new artists” living in the area who had opened up a DIY gallery, an artist performance space, and other businesses that I saw as related, ie a yoga studio and a mobile burrito van. The residences appeared to be either very old buildings, presumably with residents on old contracts, and very new loft-style developments, and one van, that appeared to be someones home. 

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photos: Gaby Bila-Günther, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate

We walked over towards Caligara Platz, which had a historical marker noting that this used to be called “Little Hollywood”. So the area has historically had the mark of artists, theater and film navigating and weaving in with the rest of the residents. It made me wonder a lot about how the art school students integrate or do not integrate with the rest of the neighborhood, as one student who was part of the said they felt some antagonism or “difference” from the people around who sometimes resented their presence doing public art. Given the fact that artists and others are being pushed out of the central neighborhoods of Berlin, however, I suspect that Weißensee will see an increasing amount of new and diverse communities moving in and I’m curious to see how these changes will take shape in the next five to 10 years.  

It was encouraging and supportive to be in a group of artists who were committed to doing these kinds of public work. In this group context it was wonderful to explore the surrounding area of our workshop.

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photos: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate
Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photos: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate


Text by Mad Kate

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

Kathryn Fischer aka Mad Kate is a polyhomefull US-American sound and performance artist based in Berlin, interested in interrogating the politics of borders within and between bodies.

Mad Kate: Mapping around Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, “Misplaced Women?” Workshop, Berlin 2018. Photos: Gaby Bila-Günther, Tatiana Bogacheva, Sajan Mani, Mad Kate

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

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Mad Kate

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Contribution by Nati Canto

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

Open Call for participants for the Misplaced Women? performance art workshop with Tanja Ostojić in Berlin, January 22-24 2018, hosted by Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz

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Older posts Berlin 2009:

Tanja Ostojić: Berlin, TXL Airport on November 21, 2009, 11 p.m,

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

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Berlin Contribution by Mad Kate

In Berlin, Performances, Workshops on February 2, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here

Contribution by Mad Kate

Locations: Görlitzer Park, Berlin on 24.01.2018., and in transit from Görlitzer Park, Berlin, Germany to den Haag, Netherlands on 25.01.2018.

Regarding my participation in the Berlin iteration of “Misplaced Women?” workshop in the Public Space by Tanja Ostojić (January 2018) — hosted by Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin Weißensee — it was encouraging and supportive to be in a group of artists who were committed to doing these kinds of public works and gave me the confidence and framework to further explore an idea I have been interested in pursuing.

“Wymyn* who travel with me even when they are not here” I performed alone and made my own documentation using a timer on my camera.

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Mad Kate: “Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Mad Kate

I live across the street from Görlitzer Park and often speak with the numerous men who are hanging out in the park, many of them from Senegal and Gambia. I notice always the lack of presence of women and other non-binary persons in this particular demographic of migrants (the park is otherwise full of women and non-binary persons). This lead to my thinking about how some migrant flows are heavily male and why this is. I thought about the “freedom” of mobility of younger men, especially Muslim men, and the reasons why and how this affects women—sometimes related to these men’s physical ability to move and cross physical borders, to move as a single person without children, to encounter dangerous situations, related to their understanding of identity in relation to their community, their place, their religion, their view of autonomy as a moving migrating body, their community’s expectations of why and how and when they should migrate, their assumed responsibility to make money and send it home, etcetera.

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Mad Kate: “Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Mad Kate

It made me think a lot about how my gender is already “queered” as an independent, migrating body, whether or not I consider myself queer (which I do, in any case) and makes me stand out from other cunt-bearing bodies–“wymyn”–even within my own US-American culture, who face relatively more strict gender expectations of their femininity and of heteronormativity. The female* migrating body already has a relative independence to women who are required or expected to stay at home and are limited by their own communities to freedom of movement. The migrating body already has access to the privilege of “the adventure of” movement, even when and if they encounter borders who would otherwise attempt to limit their mobility, i.e., even when that movement is illegal.

As a response or way of thinking about this question I decided to dress up all in purple (in part as a ritual marker, in part as a symbol of the womb) and take the large purple suitcase my mother had given me, and I walked into the park. I decorated a large purple hat with photographs of the women who used to live within close proximity to me, whom I moved far away from 14 years ago when I left the United States. I know that some of the women on that hat have never had the privilege of leaving the country. I have thought of many of them as the women I write to in “letters back home”, telling them of my challenges and adventures moving away on my own.

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Mad Kate: “Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Mad Kate

Walking into the park, holding a sound recorder visibly, I told the people I encountered (most of them the men that gather around the entrances), that I was doing a project about the women we miss from home, those that travel with us in our hearts but couldn’t come with us. I asked them if they would like to contribute a name, an anecdote, or a memory of someone to my sound recording. One of the men shouted at me that I was doing some of kind of “therapy” and sort of made fun of me. Other men spoke to me politely but refused to contribute. Another person said he wasn’t drunk enough to participate but invited me to a jam session of migrant musicians. Finally one woman contributed, sound artist Anne Historical, but she did not fit this same demographic, she was a visitor to Berlin from South Africa. This was our brief exchange.

Here are some of the encounters with the men who spoke to me but did not want to contribute.

I found it disappointing that so few people wanted to share, but at the same time I felt like it was positive action even to ask and to try to make a connection that was atypical of the normal exchanges that happen in that particular situation of entering the park, being offered the chance to buy marijuana and either refusing or accepting. It’s not that I felt like I was “helping” anyone, but rather that I faced my own invisible boundary to break the mode of the expected relationship of consumption; I think this relationship of consumption alienates and segregates.

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Mad Kate: “Wymyn who travel with me even when they are not here”, “Misplaced Women? Workshop, Berlin, 2018. Photo: Mad Kate

On the other hand, I found it alienating to ask people to share stories and face rejection, and wondered if this was too pushy or too invasive of an approach. So I decided after some time to simply wait and see if anyone asked me about what I was doing. I sat in the park for a while and unpacked my suitcase and stayed there and let it be. No one came to ask what I was doing.

The next day, since I was traveling to another country, I decided to put the entire outfit on again and travel to the Netherlands with the same costume and suitcase and the sound recorder. A lot of people noticed me and gave me positive non verbal feedback, but no one asked me about what my hat meant or whether or not my costume and suitcase had significance. However the performative act of carrying the photographs of the women with me near my head helped me feel their absence and appreciate their gift in my life. 

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Footnote: *the word wymyn is purposely “genderf*cked” to disentangle the word 

“man” from the word “woman”, and with the intention of being inclusive 

to transwomen, nonbinary, intersex and other genderqueer persons.

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Kathryn Fischer aka Mad Kate is a polyhomefull US-American sound and performance artist based in Berlin, interested in interrogating the politics of borders within and between bodies.

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Text and Photos by Mad Kate

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

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

Contribution by Rhea Ramjohn

Contribution by Hoang Tran Hieu Hanh

Contribution by LADY GABY

Contribution by Ola Kozioł

Contribution by Татьяна Bogacheva

Contribution by Katja Vaghi

Contribution by Jiachen Xu and Evdoxia Stafylaraki

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

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