MisplacedWomen?

Posts Tagged ‘SusanMerrick’

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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