Anat Eisenberg and Mirko Winkel’s work Life and Strive is a closer examination of the production of desire in a two layered context; on the surface how the desire and need for million liras accommodations is created by intruding into the heart of a metropolis, and beneath how people from (possibly) other social classes react to it in a performative “opportunity”.
The work consists of gathering of participants, informing them about the rise of “gated communities”, namely residential high-security towers throughout the city, and inviting them into these still under construction sites in the alias of high profile shoppers. This invitation comes as surprise if you had not read the program closely, and it is like a guerilla theatre for both the participants/performers and the towers’ client managers/performers, yet a more introversive one.
I think I don’t need to criticize the high capitalist appropriation of public space nor the need for security and estrangement of high upper class in the middle of a city populated with 15 millions of people. I would rather problematize the performance. First of all, if we are supposed to feel resentment against this closed community, it must also be taken into consideration that the situation was actually “gated community versus performative community”; we did not interact with the sales staff sincerely either, we shielded ourselves with another appropriated “gate”. Furthermore, no matter with whom you are talking to, it actually humiliates you to fake an identity and giggle with irony inside without revealing yourself in the end, especially considering the fact that your critical approach towards these ugly buildings and the Faustian will to power behind them changes nothing in real life.
However, upon reflection I felt that what Eisenberg and Winkel actually want to see is the degree of participants’ willingness and performative success/failure to accept the role of millionaire with briefly rehearsed arrogance and dis/interest; they create a milieu for strive to emerge. The only real audience in this performance is the two, walking beside two performative agents (salesmen and clients) like a ghost, muted, visually focused, taking pictures. Yet again, this also becomes problematic in the end; it harms your weakness and “innocence” up against these giant buildings at the cost of a semi-psychological experiment which has the danger of causing a self-accusation on the grounds of voyeurism and of latent desire to gather some sort of power (not necessarily political/to fight back). While we are trying to fit into our roles, to act up, to ask fake questions (though not purposeless), do we not actually get thinned into this world of illusions?
Finally, that only a simple definition of us being “rich people” and not instead a loose script was given is a weakness on the performance’s part in technical terms. In addition, no option of withdrawal is offered during the beginning brief. I think that would enhance the quality of their overall research more.
Intrusion answered with intrusion. A “nice” outcome is confronting with the fact that you have no control over Mephistopheles and no crack in this perfect system to become an activist, that you may condescend to a bitter performance of revenge with impotent strive. In the end, what you are left with is pure nihilism, fatigue and no desire to think further about this obscenity.