Dressing the City

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artist performing in "Dressing the City"Bizarre, inspiring, bewildering and poetic. That’s how I’d describe a two-hour art performance that I saw and experienced in Cologne yesterday.

It was called “Dressing the City und mein Kopf ist ein Hemd” and focused on the relationship between people, clothes and urban space.

Sounds strange – and I guess that’s what it was. But in an interesting way. I mean, what do you expect: it’s performance art!

For the audience, the performance has no real starting point and no defined end. All of a sudden, you’re in the middle of it.

There are numerous actors and artists doing things simultaneously at different spots (dressing, undressing, relating with each other or with the clothes they’re wearing or the city architecture).

artist performing in "Dressing the City" http://www.angiehiesl.de/eng/index.php?page=art&artid=128And you as a spectator have to drift from one scene to the next, never knowing where the next one will take place.

Let your intuition be your guide – or just follow the crowd of people that quickly forms around the artists doing their thing.

Since different artists act out their scenes simultaneously, you’ll never be able to see everything. But that’s just like in real life: while you’re concentrating on one aspect of your life, one “story”, dressed-up mailbox in "Dressing the City" http://www.angiehiesl.de/eng/index.php?page=art&artid=128other things are happening right next to you that you’ll never know about. Maybe you’ll just hear about them later or see the remnants of these other life-stories, scenes, dramas…

The artists who thought up “Dressing the City” are Angie Hiesl and Roland Kaiser. On their website, they explain the ideas behind their art performance:

Angie Hiesl

Angie Hiesl

Clothes are our second skin, the membrane between our body and the environment. They are the link between our inner and outer worlds and make a public statement.Clothing is a non-verbal means of communication and delivers signals that relate directly to our social role.The issue of clothes and all their associations – whether social, cultural, aesthetic, historic, religious or moral – leads directly to Hiesl and Kaiser’s original form of expression: the provocation of our senses in public space.

Provocation is something that’s difficult in a city as cosmopolitan, diverse and tolerant as Cologne. The people here are pretty unfazed by what they see on the streets every day. So during yesterday’s performance, some passers-by just walked on without looking when a woman or a man were undressing down to their underwear in public.

artist participating in "Dressing the City" http://www.angiehiesl.de/eng/index.php?page=art&artid=128Yet there were a few funny and interesting reactions from unsuspecting citizens of Cologne.

When an older gentleman crossed the street and saw this lady more or less dangling from a traffic light, he worriedly asked “are you all right, Miss?” – much to the amusement of the bistanding art-lovers, who were well aware that this lady was part of an art performance.

Church procession meets "Dressing the City" http://www.angiehiesl.de/eng/index.php?page=art&artid=128In another wonderful “culture clash”, a catholic church procession entered the street where some of the artists were just stripping down to their underwear or changing clothes in public.

At first, the onlooking art-lovers didn’t know whether this procession was part of the  performance. Or was it a group of evangelical Christians who wanted to preach against this decadent form of art? Neither one. In liberal Cologne, everyone just went their way and let the others be.

http://www.angiehiesl.de/eng/index.php?page=art&artid=128You can see another great interaction between art and real life in the film I posted above. About 4′ 20″ into the film, you’ll see a little kid who’s obviously very curious, what these two people are doing out on a park bench in their underwear. In the next scene, he and another kid are totally fascinated by one of the actors taking off his shorts in public. Hilarious.

Dressing the City und mein Kopf ist ein Hemd will be performed at least three more times in September, 2011. Go see it if you have the chance. And if you’re not in Cologne, Germany, don’t despair: Angie Hiesl and Roland Kaiser have taken some of their art performances to other cities and countries – even as far away as China.

Written by Thorsten

August 28, 2011 at 6:44 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I assume the temperature wasn’t that cold. Otherwise, I don’t think those two would take off their clothes. Hypothermia!

    By the way, what software did you use to edit the video?

    Ljubomir Gatdula

    September 3, 2011 at 5:15 am

    • Temperatures were ok, it just rained off and on. It’s been a very unpredictable summer in Germany… I used Windows Moviemaker — nothing fancy, easy to use.


      September 3, 2011 at 11:09 am

  2. It is quite strange, but yeah it is art and somehow interesting. Love this article 😀


    September 11, 2011 at 5:27 pm

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