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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.

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Written by Thorsten

August 28, 2011 at 6:44 pm

A mall for young designers

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Idea Market at Kamphaeng Phaet Subway station in BangkokI was ready to head back to my hotel after having walked around Chatuchak Weekend Market for the better part of the morning.

I was tired and looking forward to my hotel swimming pool, a nice cool drink and some relaxing music from my i-pod.

But when I got to the lower level at Kamphaeng Phet subway station, I was in for a surprise. And that surprise made me forget the pool, the drink and the music for another hour.

Idea Market at Bangkok's Kamphaeng Phet subway stationHere in this subway station was the entrance to an underground shopping mall. An Idea Market that is only open on weekends.

A mall especially for young designers

Some of the designers at Kamphaeng Phet already had their own shops where they sold their own lines of fashion, gifts or perfumes.

The Idea Market at Kamphaeng Phet Others, however, were just getting started and obviously couldn’t afford renting a store yet.

They had spread out their goods on the floor in front of them – pretty much like kids selling old toys at a flea market.

Some of these vendors were selling interesting stuff that they were making themselves on the spot: designer bags , jewelery, hand-sewn teddy bears or knit sweaters.

Young designers at the Idea Market at Bangkok's Kamphaeng Phet subway stationI never studied design at school, but I thought that some of those people at the Kamphaeng Phet Idea Market were pretty talented.

And the prices were very reasonable. I bought a pair of designer shorts at one men’s fashion store, which cost me the equivalent of four dollars. Can’t really complain about that…

Written by Thorsten

December 23, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Spanish art circles

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Roundabout on the Spanish island of Mallorca Traffic planners in Spain love roundabouts. They build them everywhere. So if you’re going from A to B in Spain, chances are you’ll be “going around in circles” pretty often.

The one problem with all these roundabouts that Spanish traffic planners haven’t really solved yet is how to fill the void in the middle of the roundabouts.

It’s open space that craves to be filled.

In some cases, they’ll put a streetlight, or plant a tree or some bushes in those circular spaces.

But in many other cases, they’ll make the roundabout a little island of creativity and liven up its center section with a little art.

And that leads to some bewildering, amusing and inspiring roadside experiences.

The examples in the slideshow below are from the Spanish island of Mallorca.

It’s not a Picasso, Dali or Miro

Unfortunately, the art that you’ll find in your average Spanish roundabout isn’t exactly by Picasso or Miro. It’s – how shall we say – somewhat more basic.

Cheaper, I guess. And that may be a good thing: after all, roundabout art could easily be damaged if some driver from hell failed to make the turn and smashed into the sculpture.

So the sculptures in Spanish roundabouts are usually pretty robust. They’re often made of corrugated iron or stone boulders.

Big forms that are easily recognizable to the drivers circling around them.

But I must admit that their deeper meaning often escapes me – no matter how often I circle these roundabouts.A rusty spiral and tumbling houses

What’s this one supposed to mean, for instance?

What you see when you drive around it is a large rusty spiral. If you look really close, you can also see some small zinc houses tumbling out of the open end of the spiral.

Is it supposed to represent a hurricane? Is this a Spanish impression of the Wizard of Oz?

It’s beyond me. But I guess “Toto, we’re not in Catalonia any more…”

Written by Thorsten

July 3, 2008 at 6:46 pm

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