X-Wohnungen Mannheim

Schönau allotments

X-Apartments Mannheim was a site-specific project produced by HAU (Hebbel am Ufer) and the Nationaltheater Mannheim for the International Schillertage. Three unique tours through the city of Mannheim were created, each consisting of seven 10-minute performances, events or installations that inhabit and respond to a series of private flats. The audience embarks on a parcours, which leads spectators from one venue to another. Each 10-minute encounter introduces a new narrative to the journey that redefines an increasingly complex and personal relationship to the site.

X-Apartments is a concept developed in 2003 by Matthias Lilienthal at the „Theater der Welt“ in Duisburg. It was restaged for Berlin in 2004, 2005 and 2008 and has since taken place in a variety of locations, including Freiburg, Istanbul, Caracas, Warsaw, Vienna and Sao Paulo.

The rainbow maker and a perfect day

Artists: Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley, in collaboration with Connie and Aribert Götting and supported by Lena Fritsch.

For X-Apartments in Mannheim we wanted to work inside one of the allotments that can be found bordering the residential area of Schönau, architecturally reminiscent of the houses that can be found at the opposite more affluent end of Schönau, where the tour for X-Apartments would begin. Although allotments may not be seen as apartments, we found them conceptually interesting in relation to the dramaturgy of the event.

Allotments function as a form of carefully manicured microcosm, miniature individualised worlds/aspirations, complete with a miniature garden and a miniature house, usually containing a kitchen, veranda, working space, and even a bed. Allotments, as man-made creations, are experienced or perceived as an ideal, as a place of self-fulfilment, as a get-away or form of escape, and as an alternative, but equally regulated and controlled reality. To many who own an allotment they are seen and utilised as extensions to their apartment.

Our performance would take place at the end of the tour, and we wanted to create a finale that would function as a reflection on both the site, and the tour itself, framing and contextualising the experience.

We were fortunate to find Connie and Aribert, the owners of an allotment on Königsberger Allee. Together with Connie and Aribert we developed two performances for X-Apartments Mannheim. ‘The rainbow maker’ took place whenever the sun was shining and ‘Perfect day’ took place after the sun had set, or as an alternative programme for overcast weather.

The rainbow maker

Our audience were given a glass of summer punch and an umbrella, asked to put on some waterproof clothing and Wellington boots, and directed to a small gnome that looked up into the sky. They stood here, huddled under their umbrella, and followed the gaze of the garden gnome. Before long a water-sprinkler in front of them would be switched on, spraying a jet of fine mist into the air. A rainbow would appear in front of their eyes that arced over the high-rise apartments of Schönau, the area through which they had previously journeyed.

They were left to enjoy this theatrical intervention until we turned off the sprinkler and brought an abrupt end to our creation.

Perfect day

water sprinkler concert

Video: http://vimeo.com/36376054

Our audience were seated under the veranda, looking out onto the lawn where 15 garden sprinklers and 12 garden lights were linked together and positioned symmetrically. Once everybody had settled down a water-sprinkler concert was enacted in the allotment to the sound of Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’, reminiscent of the famous fountains in Barcelona or Versailles, or those that can be found in Mannheim’s Friedrichsplatz, but charmingly DIY.

The sprinklers were operated using a ‘water-controller’ constructed by Ari that regulated the pressure going through each of the hoses using a series of valves. The choreography was performed by Connie and Kaspar, with Susanne prompting and Ari keeping our guests supplied with punch.

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Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley work internationally as interventionists and performance researchers specialising in site-specific and site-responsive art, alternative strategies for audience interaction and new forms of artistic collaboration.

The artistic process usually begins with a given site, and a process of observation and dialogue that analyses, and eventually responds, to the architectural, socio-political, geographical, mythological, connotative and historical narratives that can be found there.

Projects are quietly subversive, playfully readjusting the narrative and appreciation of a particular activity or a given site. The working process often involves those that live in an area, and aims to be accessible and relevant.

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