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An Essay on Invisibility

Iulia Popovici

(since I’m feeling so guilty for missing today, here you are a text about the Rimini Protokoll performance I saw a week ago; be as critical as you like)

Abdulah (Mr. Dağaçar), Aziz, Mithat and Bayram are experts. They have very precise working hours, they know everything about the object of their activity; they are the best in their field for expertise.

Abdulah, Aziz, Mithat and Bayram are professionals. Experts in trash. Some would call (and are calling) them scavengers. Every day, they cross the Turkish capital with their self-made sort of carriages, in search for recyclable „left-overs“ – paper, cardboards, plastic, aluminum (a nice word for mainly Coca-Cola and Fanta cans). They are the invisible people.

Mr. Dağaçar and the Golden Tectonics of Trash is the latest production of the German collective Rimini Protokoll, and it premiered in Istanbul, at garajistanbul, in the framework of the European Capital of Culture, in October 2010. A subtle, touching story about the dignity of life, about the silent existence of the other and the overwhelming menace of potential fortune.

Internationally acclaimed and contested in the same time, Rimini Protokoll (formed byHelgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel, working together in various combinations since 2000) brings on stage what they call „a theatre of experts“ in real life; they conceptually refuse to work with actors, and all their projects (such as Radio MuezzinAirport KidsCall Cutta in a Box or the much commented Karl Marx: Capital, Volume One – no worry, there is no „volume two“) star ordinary people performing their actual, not so ordinary life story.

In spite of this stated interest for reality, Rimini Protokoll projects are extremely crafted in terms of dramaturgy. Haug, Kaegi and Wetzel are themselves experts – in turning the invisible visible, flagellating reality with its own weapons, and reconsidering, in the same time, the very strategies of theatre. Some times – as in Mr. Dağaçar… – it’s about including elements of the so-called minor theatre forms.

That, because in the cast of …the Golden Tectonics, Abdulah and his team are joined by Hasan, himself an expert – in Karagöz, the traditional Turkish form of shadow puppet theatre. In the Rimini Protokoll performance, the puppets become the set for Abdulah, Aziz, Mithat and Bayram’s migration from their poor villages to the city, and the impersonal voice of the visible economy, their silent enemy.

The streets of Istanbul are paved with gold. A 2-meter high bag of paper translates for Aziz not in 30 liras (15 euros) but in the monthly costs for his household. How much would it be worth for a multinational? Probably, just like in the old tales, its weight in gold. In order to escape the next earthquake in the tectonics of capitalism, the shy, discreet, dignified Abdulah, Aziz, Mithat and Bayram have to stay invisible.

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