End of the Line. Of Taking and Giving
Six art hosts invited an art-interested public to their home surroundings in the Schöpfwerk housing estate. There, a series of “performative interventions” was presented which were developed together with the artists or artist collectives.
The works were prompted by individual biographies like those of Chucho el Roto, Rummu Jüri, El Lute, Enric Duran, and Carmine Crocco, all of them popular heroes who went down in history, famed for their Robin Hood-style “illegal redistributive work.” They inspired unpredictable, site-specific performative interventions with accompanying instructions for action relating to the subject of “take and give.”
Why “take and give”? There is a number of widely different socio-political concepts of “taking and giving.” “Contributor”? “Recipient”? Who gives? And who takes? What does social peace rest upon if it is built on a precarious balance once this balance start tipping? “Take and give” works differently if it is an exchange based on reciprocity; a barter that is self-balancing.
However, what happens if self-determined “taking” meets legal, though perhaps not moral boundaries? At what point would personal “taking” and subsequent “passing on of what has been taken” start turning into an act of “il/legal redistribution”? Is it always about things? Who gives ideas? Who takes them? Who “gives” joy? Who takes it? Who “gives” fear? And who “takes” it? Neither were these questions answered nor directly negotiated in the project—rather, they were ventilated and left hanging in the air, unfolding a continuous associative backdrop for the spaces of action.
This added up to a collage-like film set comprised of 12 scenes. The entire series of performative interventions was part of a cinematographic setting. All participants from the audience were enlisted as actors and supporters for selected tasks at hand.
6 artist teams
6 art host teams
1 sound man
1 guitar player
1 trumpet player
Approx. 40 people in the production staff
plus audiences in varying numbers (min. 25)
in total approx. 65 actors per tour
Scene 1 (exterior)
In the middle of a Viennese municipal housing estate (Am Schöpfwerk), between a church and a multistoried residential block, a green stepladder is set up underneath a tree next to a shopping cart filled with all sorts of things. Between the tree and the building across from it, a simple materials ropeway is stretched. Standing on the ladder is a female protagonist, dressed up in an ape costume and filling things from the shopping cart into a bucket. A flock of children surround the tree.
Scene 2 (exterior)
The audience stands where they can see the ropeway tree, listening to the megaphoned introductory words of the director informing them about a soon-to-begin spatial intervention. In the background, the bucket is slowly moving upward toward a terrace. Dressed in black, the protagonist with the trumpet asks the audience to file in behind him and follow him in a snake formation. Facial masks are handed out to the audience.
Scene 3 (exterior)
There are drums to be heard. The audience sits down around the protagonist on the grass to listen to a fairy tale. At the end of the story, the drum-beating protagonist launches into a song, and the audience gets on their feet to snake on, now without masks. A nearby guitar player accompanies the event with improvisations.
Scene 4 (exterior)
The audience moves into a room below a church used as a communal space.
Scene 5 (interior)
In the communal room, six policemen and policewomen sit opposite to six male and female actors at small tables, separated by a low glass wall. The contents of handbags and personal items are laid out and lined up on the tables, providing something to talk about. On the left, a female actor sculpts various shapes out of aspic. There is a display of burglar’s tools and an antiquated electronic signboard showing information about Johannes Breitwieser, the “Robin Hood of Meidling,” who was active around 1910. On the right from the entrance, there are mats spread out on the floor. Standing on them is an actor in a padded suit, ready to be attacked by policemen and policewomen, by children from the audience, or other participants. The audience can move freely through the room to overhear dialogues or observe the scenery.
Scene 6 (exterior)
After about 20 minutes, the director leads the audience out of the room and hands them over to the trumpet player, who then takes them to a neighborhood center. The audience is given directions: “Faster!”
Scene 7 (interior)
Two protagonists hold up the audience thronging into the premises and start practicing a mantra with them. After that, the crowd moves on into another room activated with light and sound effects. Four to six actors unfold a fishnet, and the audience starts tossing around the stars handed out to them beforehand while saying the mantra rehearsed earlier. Two Kyūdō archers, a man and a woman, are dancing tango. The man with the trumpet sounds a signal for departure.
Scene 8 (exterior, sequel to scene 1)
The audience follows the man with the trumpet up a stairwell to a terrace which is the upper station of the ropeway (from scene 1). The audience steps out on the terrace and turns sharply right where they are handed picture postcards before moving on—past a female protagonist wearing an ape costume and holding a bunch of balloons—to a window opened to the terrace. Beside it, another female protagonist in an ape costume collects the things carried up on the ropeway. Filing past her, the people in the audience hand those objects over through the window to yet another female protagonist acting from inside her apartment. In return, their postcards are stamped and then attached to balloons (given away by the first protagonist in ape disguise) and sent up into the sky.
Scene 9 (interior)
Following the signal of the trumpet man, the audience starts moving off the terrace in a snake formation. They momentarily stay on the same floor, zigzagging their way into an over-dimensional stairwell. Just before entering it, they pick up and cling to a thread—all the way down to the ground floor. On the second floor, a hidden guitar player improvises to the event.
Scene 10 (exterior)
After leaving the stairwell, the formation breaks up and the audience gathers around an electric wheelchair (it is the wheelchair of the protagonist of the scene who, however, does not appear in person). Red paper flags are handed out. The electric wheelchair starts rolling, followed by the audience. At intervals, there is shouting in chorus, saying “El Lute!” and “Viva El Lute!” The demonstration moves down a long straight that leads up to the plaza in front of a high-rise building. Put up on the plaza is an old oil barrel with a blazing open fire burning in it. A fog machine shrouds the surroundings in thick haze. Some people from the audience gather to stand around the barrel, while others get lost in the fog. A video shows a political speech given by protagonist Aldor Ertl.
Scene 11 (interior)
Subsequently, the audience is led by the trumpet man from the plaza through a stairwell up to a hallway on the third floor. There, the audience members stand in line, waiting to be let into an apartment. A guitar player in the same hallway improvises to what is going on. Each individually, the people from the audience enter the apartment. The female protagonist is sitting on a step ladder, dressed up and decorated as a “Givemas tree.” Another protagonist in a golden suit asks everyone to give something. Simultaneously, three mice are generating a sound carpet. The Mexican popular hero Chucho el Roto, amongst others, can be seen on a monitor. Individual audience members are sitting on a couch wearing horse head masks. Others recite or chant a given text. They all leave the apartment again, upon request or on their own initiative, once they have presented their “gifts.”
Scene 12 (conclusion)
The audience leaves the apartment and moves out of the building on their own. At the exit, they are offered some homemade pineapple wine by the protagonist from scene 3. There is a guest book available. End slate.
Text: Gerald Straub
Am Schöpfwerk, 1120 Vienna
Barbara Hölbling, * 1970 in Hall in Tirol (AT), lives and works in Vienna
Mario Höber, * 1974 in Feldbach (AT), lives and works in Vienna.
Barbara Hölbling and Mario Höber have been working together under the name hoelb/hoeb since 2000.
* 1978 in Salzburg (AT), lives and works in Vienna.
* 1971 Wien, lives and works in Vienna.
Laia Fabre: * 1978 in Barcelona (ESP), lives and works in Vienna.
Thomas Kasebacher: *1974 in Innsbruck (AT), lives and works in Vienna.
Laia Fabre and Thomas Kasebacher have been realizing various projects under the name “notfoundyet” since 2007.
* 1954 in Amsterdam (NL), lives and works in Vienna.
* 1967 in Wien, lives and works in Vienna (AT)
Schule für Dichtung (Camillo Antonio and UrbanNomadMixes)
UrbanNomadMixes (UNM) for “schule für dichtung in wien”
Performing Artists: Camilo Antonio, Layla Dulíková, Sa_Hara Paar, Ion Neculai, Alina Serban, Philipp Teister, Ines Topi
Media Voice (Roma) Film Team: Madlen Hermanová, Filip Horváth, Matej Kalian, Vera Lackova
“schule für dichtung in wien” (sfd) was founded as an independent art project in 1991 and has organized symposia, concerts, readings, performances, discussions, panels, lectures, exhibitions, and other events besides its analog and digital courses in both Austria and abroad.
wohnpartner – Gemeinsam für eine gute Nachbarschaft, Wiener Wohnen