Nóra Bükki Gálla
We met in a 5 star hotel’s bar overlooking the city and were told that shortly we will be taken to a high class residential project to be presented as a group of European investors. We didn’t have much time to invent a story of rich aunts and inherited fortunes. As it turned out, we didn’t need one. But just in case.
Gated communities, we were told, are a big issue in Istanbul because they are in the middle of the city, rich folks throwing their richness into poor people’s faces. Barbed wire fences, bulky security guards, cameras everywhere – such places are possible to access. Unless you want to join the club, of course. Our two facilitators, Anat Eisenberg and Mirko Winkel got an appointment for us for two such projects, dividing the group between two high rise buildings both nearly finished.
We spent the next hour listening to marketing slogans, looking at 3D models and trotting in plastic wrapped shoes upon marble floors of apartments with the price tag of several million dollars, gaped at the Bosporus view from the 66th floor. Having asked all the questions we could come up with, we thanked the salesman, took our minibus and off we went.
So. Was this a performance? Did it have anything to do with dance and choreography? Can such things be called art at all? Whatever the answer, for me personally this was something to take home to remember. Unsettling, liberating, scary, provocative. I keep thinking about the connection of architecture and prestige and wonder whether we all live such gated lives, limited by our own circumstances, preferences and social status. Or is it preconceptions and sheer snobbishness? Mmm. I mean, the gates should be open, shouldn’t they? Or if not, we should at least know that they exist.
Note to the architect: Beware. People want the price tag, not well designed spaces to live in. Now that is something to elaborate on…
The two young artists Anat Eisenberg & Mirko Winkel based in Berlin met each other in the MA-programme „Solo/Dance/Authorship“ at the Inter-University Center for Dance (Berlin). In their new work, created especially for the city of Istanbul, they do a research on the current trends in upper class residential buildings, which are based on the creation of self-contained, separate communities.
A limited number of spectators/participants (maximal 15 people) is meeting on the rooftop of luxury Marmara Hotel, offering a stunning view over Istanbul. The artists introduce their work very briefly and inform us that we are going to have an appointment in such a building pretending we are willing to buy or invest. We are encouraged to create a fake identity in terms of believability.
The duration of the transfer in a minibus stimulates various thoughts about identity, the further development and also doubts about the veritableness of the whole event. Will we ever arrive? We do! The two artists split the group and stay as “assistants” with them. Two different buildings are examined. A “real” sales conversation takes its course, finding ourselves in the 26th floor of the construction site of Rixos Residences with a breathtaking view, talking about prices and furniture. The absurdity of the whole situation, which started playful is getting unpleasant and objectionable. One of the interlocutors is not clearly aware of the fact that the entire dialog is not real, not honest. This unequal degree of knowledgeability makes the project non-transparent and somehow missing the point.
The journey ends again at the starting point, but the “audience” is left alone with a lot of questions. What remains is simultaneously an abiding memory and unique experience as well as an indisposition and discomfort about the whole topic of differentiation, exclusion, affiliation and membership.
Life and Strive is not a play nor a performance. It’s an orginal artistic proposition made by two young artists Anat Eisenberg and Mirko Winkel for a limited group of people (around 15 persons). The public meet the two artists on the top floor of a luxury hotel in the center of Istanbul. There, in front of the city view, the two artists explain their project : they show the biggest tower of the city to the audience, a residential project which construction is about to be completed. They invite the public to visit the apartements, pretending they are interested in buying one. And so it goes. Divided in two small groups, the members of the public are brought there in a van an soon go through a visit of apartments which they will never be able to afford (the prices range between 1.2 million dollars and seven million). Everything here is big and made for the richest : the view is breathtaking, the apartments are huge ; a golf, a swimming pool and a supermarket are under construction. What makes many people dream of discloses many terryfying aspects : the tower has everything of a golden cage. The view is breathtaking but no one can open a window ! What is interesting in this situation is that the members of the public are pretending. This self distance increases the feeling one has that everything that is seen and heard in this building project is fake (the building, the salesmen…). Unfortunately it is not. The role of the artists in Life and Strive is quite limited : they put the public in a situation they just chose. Difficult to call that a piece or a performance. But the content of it is interesting enough to be worth it.