Waiting for Nothing to Happen. 5 days in 2 places. Weimar 2008.

Waiting for Nothing to Happen. Learning through absurdity; behaviours between consensus and legality.


Choose a spot in the city where you can hide absurdly. This means that you will not see how others see you. This spot will be a corner, a gap, or any place where your body fits or where you can become the extension of an architectural structure or urban furniture.
Put in a set of earplugs. Position yourself and stay still at your chosen location, if possible, with your back facing the street. Close your eyes. Your face must not be seen.

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Try to avoid remembering your surroundings. Feel the particular characteristics of the corner you chose with your body. Try to relax and stay still. Just be.
Decide how long you want to stay and set the alarm of your mobile phone or be close to a church to hear its bells every quarter of an hour. Absurd hiding will also finish if during this time someone or something touches you or disrupts your quiet being.
The experience of absurd hiding differs from one day to the next. Things apparently as insignificant as the breakfast one had, the weather, ones outfit and the day of the week, do matter.
One can also invite someone to watch the action: a special guest. Their task and proximity towards you will shift, not only how you felt but, the way passers by perceive the action: they could feel they are being observed or that someone was taking care of you. Try to avoid having an audience in order to keep the action unspectacular and unclassifiable as an artistic or theatrical event for the passers by. Try to avoid documentation.
Give other people enough space to look freely.
For better results repeat hiding at the same spot several days in a row.
Warnig:
If you think someone might call the police without making sure you actually need any help (people could think you are suffering of a physical or mental problem and they might be scared of talking to you or touching you)
announce your action, time and chosen spot in the Ordnungsamt so they can tell the police and the emergency services in advance to avoid complications.

What you will find here is the journal of my absurd hiding experiences in two different locations in Weimar: Theater Platz and Eisfeldstrasse. It was originally planned that I would stay one hour each day, five days in a row, starting always at 10 a.m.

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Copy of IMGP0594

 

>>>Day1 at Theater Platz<<<

Monday 23nd of June

Breakfast:
2 toasts with fresh cheese
Some slices of ham
1 kiwifruit
A glass of milk
A cup of “relaxing” tea

Outfit:
Black Leggings
White cotton flowing skirt with little red flowers
Washed out pink t-shirt
Black leather sandals
Small hand bag

Weather:
Sunny, windy and warm.

Special Guest and task:
—————–

Experience:
I was very determined. I was shaping the wax earplugs on the way from my home to Theater Platz. As I arrived to my destination, I stood still looking at the ground for a few seconds while putting the earplugs in. I did not want to look around. I lied down.
My breathing became louder all of the sudden. The rest of the sounds did not matter anymore. I wanted to concentrate on my body. I was quite relaxed. My breathing was slowing down. Theater Platz did not exist anymore. Only what my skin could feel was present. The heat of the sun on my head, the wind moving my hair and lifting my skirt and the cobble stones on the ground where my forehead, knees and ribs were resting. I could have been anywhere. I liked it.
It felt as if my weight increased with time. I felt the stone harder.

Interruption:
Suddenly I heard lots of voices. Sind Sie ok? Sind Sie ok?
I turn around. To my surprise I see four people aligned next to me, not further than one step. They ask me if I am ok. I say yes, but two women tell me that one of the men standing there had just called the police and an ambulance was coming.
I ask him how could he call the police without knowing if I needed any help, without talking to me or reaching to touch me. I could have been sleeping. The two women agreed and said they were sorry. This man said that he thought I had an accident, maybe I hit my head with the edge of the ramp. He called the police again to say it was a false alarm but it was too late; the ambulance was on its way. The police also came and told the man who called to leave the place. Afterwards I am told I will receive a bill at my mailbox that I will have to pay.

Duration:
Aprox.15 min

I talked to a lawyer the next day. He said what I am doing is legal but I should say what I am doing to the Ordnungsamdt and they will inform the police and the emergency services. Three days later, after recovering emotionally, I continue with my task at the same spot.

>>>Day 2 at Theater Platz<<<
Thursday 26th of June

Breakfast:
A pear muesli yoghourt low in calories
A glass of water

Outfit:
Blue trousers
Brown shoes
Short black sleeveless cotton dress
Light gray cardigan

Weather:
Sunny and warm.
Special Guest and task:
—————–

Experience:
This time I was more nervous.
It took me longer to lie down; I sat for a while on the end of the ramp facing the Goethe and Schiller statue.
I took the yellow box of wax earplugs out of my small purse, removed the cotton around them and warmed them with my fingers to make them softer before putting them inside my ears.
I looked around precisely wanting to remember what I was about to try to forget.
There were people close to me when I decided to lie down facing the ground following the shape of the ramp of the side of the theater.
I could hear something but it was hard to know where exactly the sounds came from. I could hear music coming out of the theater and the murmur of people talking.
Try to concentrate on your body and forget what happened on Monday.
My knee cannot find a right place to stay. The cobble stones are very uncomfortable.

Interruption:
I hear: Ist alles ok? Hallo?
Someone touches me on the right side of my back, a young girl.
-Are you ok?
-Yes. Why did you ask? What do you think I am doing?
-I don’t know, maybe you were drunk, or sleeping… Ok. Tschüss. I’m glad you are ok.

Duration:
I could only lie on the ground for about 2 minutes. Maybe the lack of calories of my breakfast made it last so little.

>>>Day 3 at Theater Platz<<<
Friday 27th of June

Breakfast:
A not ripe enough kiwifruit
A bowl of yoghourt with apple mousse

Outfit:
Blue trousers
Lila top with color dots
Brown shoes
Light pink cardigan

Special Guest and task:
Thea Miklowski. Sit on the ramp not far from me. If someone came worried, talk to them.

Experience:
We met in Theater Platz at 9:40 and after talking for some minutes sitting on a bench we both went to sit on the ramp. It was almost 10am. Today there was another variation. I folded my scarf and my raincoat perfectly and placed them on the ramp as if it was part of a daily ritual; took out my earplugs, gave them shape and put them inside my ears. Then I left the little earplugs’ box on top of my folded raincoat. I wanted to make more visible that I chose to be there, that it was not an accident and I was not drunk or suffering.
I removed a little piece of glass that I found where I was about to put my face. I lied down. My head was touching the end of the ramp. My hands were covering my eyes and my legs and feet together.
Today grass had grown in between some cobblestones. It tickled my nose.
I could smell the rain on the ground. It was coming.
It was cold and windy, but only on my left side. I thought maybe I should have not removed my raincoat. I did not want to get sick.
Sometimes I perceived a bad smell, the sewage maybe?
I tried to keep my knees and feet together. I was very tense.
As time passed by I felt my body heavier and the contact with the ground stronger. The irregular cobblestones left marks on my forehead and my knees.
My arms hurt. I had to change their position for a couple of minutes.
I heard lots of vehicles passing behind me.
I felt the ground slightly shaking close to my feet when someone passed close to them.
I felt a woman walking in high heels walking over me and stepping very close to my waist on both sides.

Interruption:
I felt a couple of very disturbing cold raindrops on my neck. It started raining.
I stood up.

Duration:
It had been about 25 min. My special guest and I left right away. I think having someone near made people think I was ok or maybe they felt she was responsible for me.

>>>Day 4 at Theater Platz<<<
Saturday 28th of June

Breakfast:
Toast with olive oil and sugar
A glass of warm milk

Outfit:
Purple wool cardigan
Light gray jeans
Black t-shirt
Dark blue and yellow shoes with laces

Weather:
Gray sky, windy and slightly raining.

Special Guest and task:
Andrea Acosta. She sat in the distance and observed from far away peoples behavior around me and myself. After the action was finished, she took a picture of my forehead with her camera and I took one of the objects on the ramp.

Experience:
After completing the ritual of folding and placing my belongings on the ramp close to me (the blue stripes cotton scarf, the raincoat and the yellow box of earplugs) and putting in the earplugs, I lay down as usual. There are many more people on the streets, mostly tourists, and less cars and trucks.
I think I am wearing very warm clothes. The air I breathe stays under my mouth, in between my arms.
The exercise of trying to forget where I am becomes harder as the days go by. The pain on my forehead appears as soon as I lean on the ground and the contact with the cobble stones seems to be stronger. I feel their irregularity and hardness on my knees, lower ribs, forehead and arms. The position of these must be changed twice because of the pain. The little bit of grass in between the stones is drying out, still tickles my nose as yesterday but it does not feel so nice.
The wind is coming from my left side. It feels nice, it is not cold. Sometimes it smells like garlic. I cannot concentrate on my breathing so much; my body tries to be aware of the surroundings.
Today at least 5 people walked by very close to my feet and at least 2 people walked over me.
One taxi driver shouted “polizei”. I think they were talking about me and waiting for my reaction. I did not move.

Interruption:
Someone touches me on my right shoulder. I turn and see a man and a woman in their sixties. She asks me if I am ok.
-Yes, I am ok.
-Are you sure?
-Yes, I am ok.
-You were only tired then.

Duration:
19 minutes. I sit on the ramp and wait for my guest to arrive from wherever she was observing. The taxi driver looks at me serious without speaking. We leave. My forehead hurts when I touch it. My guest says I look like a dead body from far away. People near her asked if I was ok and what could I possibly be doing. I do not want to scare people. Maybe this happens because I am on the ground. I need a different location for the next experience.

>>>Day 5 at Theater Platz<<<
Sunday, 29th of June

Breakfast:
A small banana
A “brötchen” with mushrooms’ spread and a slice of cheese
A cup of earl gray tea with milk

Outfit:
Navy blue knit jacket tied around the hips
Light gray jeans
Black long sleeved top
Dark blue and yellow shoes with laces

Weather:
Sunny and warm, barely windy

Special guest and task:
Myself. Watch and document my absence.

Experience:
I could not accomplish my task today. Helpless I go at 10 a.m. with my photo camera to document my absence and lay looking around on the spot and the ramp. There are actually very few people outside. I lie on the ground, but facing the sky. It does not feel awkward. The sunshine hits my face. I am happy I will not come here tomorrow.

Duration:
Aprox.20 min

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Eisenstr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

>>>Day 1 at Eisfeldstr.<<<
Wednesday July 2nd

Breakfast:
A piece of chocolate

Outfit:
Grey jeans
Light pink cardigan
White shirt
Blue sandals

Weather:
Warm and sunny, no wind.

Special Guest and Task:
—————–

Experience:
Today it is impossible to leave my personal thoughts aside; even though, I go to the location, set the alarm clock of my mobile phone to ring in 1 hour, put on the earplugs, stand in the gap, close my eyes and try to concentrate. It is the first day at this place. I want to fulfill the task I set to myself.
I do not want to scare anybody. I feel helpless in this gap even though there are 3 walls protecting me. Only my back is facing the street. I do not know why, but it feels worse than laying on Theatre Platz, where I was completely exposed.
My arms fall on the sides of my body as normal. My hands are visible, open and facing the street.
After a while I start feeling tired of not moving and standing. I change the weight of my body from one leg to the other while thinking of the horses on Frauen Plan waiting for their ride. I lean on my left side, then on my right side, rest my forehead on the water pipe in front of me. I hear people passing behind me. It is as if the earplugs were not working today. I hear too many noises: people walking, voices, workers at a construction site… I cannot concentrate but I do feel my pulse going fast.
There is nothing to smell and no wind to feel.
My right hand wrist itches. I scratch it.
I sigh. I do not like being here.

Interruption:
-Are you Ok?
-Yes, I am.
-Either you were doing art or it was something psychic.

He needs to know before calling the police, that is why he speaks to me. He could see me from his apartment.
His name is David. I try to explain the action to him.

Duration:
Aprox.40 minutes
He will send me more Weimar hiding places by e-mail but he does not have a pen. He invites me to his apartment. I accept. Offers me a glass of water and I meet his son. I leave. He wishes me luck.

>>>Day 2 at Eisfeldstr.<<<
Thursday July 3rd

Breakfast:
Croissant with butter
Banana
Black Tea with milk

Outfit:
Pink Hong Kong Phooey t-shirt
Black linen pants
White espadrilles with strawberries pattern

Weather:
Very hot and sunny. No wind, hummed thick air.

Special Guest and Task:
Jessica MacCormack. Sit at a spot where she can watch, but not close to me. Come to rescue me in an hour if nothing happened.

Experience:
I was a bit late; I shape the earplugs on my way to my vertical coffin. When I am ready and enter the gap on the wall I check the time: 10:03. Today I was much more relaxed. There was a mosquito on the wall. We were two and Jess was watching. I closed my eyes.
I often hear the sounds of passers-by’s steps that suddenly stop. I wonder if they really stop when they see me or if the acoustics of such a corner allow me to hear only what is right behind me.
There were not so many noises. I could not hear the machines at the construction site nearby.
I tried not to think of anything, just feel my weight on my feet and the touch of the walls on my sides. I was only getting started.

Interruption:
Suddenly I feel my pants slightly moving.
“What is this? Did someone touch the back of my knee?”
Then I felt something on my left hand. It was a dog licking it!
After the seconds it took me to understand what that had been, I turned around with a smile. The dog and his owner were already some meters away. I looked at the dog. The owner couldn’t care less and kept on walking.

Duration:
6 minutes. My special guest and I left to have a second breakfast. She told me she thought a dog could have bitten me and I would have been helpless.
Hours later I realize it might have been the banana and the croissant what the dog liked so much.

>>>Day 3 at Eisfeldstr.<<<
Friday July 4th

Breakfast:
————

Outfit:
Black linen pants
White and blue striped t-shirt
Navy blue cotton jacket
Brown suede shoes

Weather:
Completely cloudy, a bit cold and a bit windy.

Special Guest and Task:
—————

Experience:
This time I put the earplugs in before I arrive to my destination. My steps feel heavier than ever, and I feel the bones of my ear vibrating with each step. I see the dog that licked my hand and his owner. They do not recognize me. Keep on walking. I arrive quite fast and position myself without looking around. I close my eyes and make sure the palms of my hands are visible. I perceive a strong smell of tar. The last two days I did not smell anything.
I did not write down before that the concrete ground beneath me is slightly sloppy, my toes are higher than my heels, and the wall on my left side is much more rough and bumpy than the one on the left. Today I have more time to think of that. I’m concentrated. It is a bit cold. I feel a breeze on the back of my head and on my fingers. After a while I feel a flow of air coming from above on the top of my head and shoulders. It is cold. I am glad I am wearing that jacket, it has a long neck.
I hear lots of cars and people passing behind me. I hear high heels shoes more clearly than others.
Someone says “Ja wohl!” and laughs. I wonder if it is because of me.
My left foot touches the pipe and my arms are touching the walls on the sides. Sometimes rest my head on the wall on my right side.
I hear the word “angst” in a conversation between women far from me. It is not my intention to scare anybody. They make me nervous. I wonder if anyone has called the police already and has been told there is nothing wrong with me.
I notice the bells of the church ringing twice. Only today I realize I can actually know the time. It is 10.30 a.m. I have set my alarm clock at 11, but I do not need it. The bells will tell me when to leave.
I hear a man asking how long I will be there. I do not answer and he does not insist. Before and after this I hear car doors slamming repeatedly. I wonder if someone wants to “wake me up” and is doing it intentionally.
My arms feel heavy. My right arm is asleep. The palms of my hand are swollen. I open and close them to make blood run through them.
The bells ring three times. I’ve been here for 45 min already. I am impatient for 11 and feel sorry that the earplugs don’t work better. I wish I did not hear anything.
I wonder if David is looking at me.
The weather gets better and I can feel it is a bit brighter. The breeze moves my hair and it is on my cheeks. I want to scratch my face but I do not do it not to give the impression to someone that I am doing something dangerous.

Interruption:
Church bells announcing 11 a.m. 1 minute before my phone alarm rang. I leave quickly without looking around and without removing my earplugs. I do not want to see if someone is watching.

Duration
60 minutes

>>>Day 4 at Eisfeldstr.<<<
Saturday July 5th

Breakfast:
————–

Outfit:
Washed out pink t-shirt
Black cotton trousers
Brawn suede shoes
Blue stripes cotton scarf around neck

Weather:
Partially cloudy and a bit cold. Not very windy.

Special Guest and Task:
Andrea Acosta. Come anytime and watch. Leave at anytime.

Experience:
I am late again. 2 minutes. Calmed, I put the earplugs in and position myself in the gap between the buildings. Today I just don’t want to think of anything. I want just to be. Be here.
I wonder if Andrea has come yet.
I do not think so much about what happens around me. I claim my right to be here doing nothing but wait until the hour is gone.
I hear a group of Spanish people passing by behind me. I understand what they are saying easily, nothing about me. Maybe it is not the language but the fact that we, Spanish, speak louder what makes it easier. They continue talking normally until their voices fade away.
The bells announce it is 10.30.
I hear a little boy asking his mother “Was ist denn mit ihr los?” the mother just tells him „komm“.
A man says that I have been here for a pretty long time today and continues walking. I believe I recognize his voice, he is the man who asked me yesterday „how long are you going to do this?.“
Try not to think of anything.
The weather is a bit chilly.
Some girls laugh.
I wish I had breakfast so that at least I had the hope a dog could lick my hand.
I put my hands together at my back. I try not to touch any wall with my arms. I loose balance a couple of times and when my nose touches the pipe I get scared.
I am waiting for the bells to ring. I do not think of anything else.
I yawn.
I am hungry.

Interruption:
Church bells announcing 11 a.m.

Duration:
60 minutes. When the bells ring, I leave. Look around searching for Andrea. She is not there. I check my phone; she could not make it.

>>>Day 5 at Eisfeldstr.<<<
Sunday July 6th

Breakfast:
An olive bread toast with butter
A very ripen kiwi fruit
An herbal relaxing tea

Outfit:
Light grey jeans
White t-shirt
Red flip-flops

Weather:
Hot, cloudy and hummed.

Special Guest and Task:
I invited several people to watch, to either stay not so close or pass by: Sandra Johnston, Rie Takagi, Kei Fushiki, Hohori Fushiki, Andrea Theis and Andrea Acosta.

Experience:
I arrive some minutes late. I come with Sandra. When I put my earplugs in I see Kei, Rie and Hohori. I enter the gap. Somehow I am very relaxed. I have the feeling there is nobody in the streets. It is Sunday morning. All the shops are closed. There are only some groups of tourists and my guests are watching.
It is so quiet I have the feeling I can hear a buzz from the electric station on my right.
I can not only feel but also hear my heartbeats. I hear a plane.
Today I smell a man’s perfume, coffee and something I cannot recognize.
I move slowly. My nose itches. I try to rub it against the pipe. It does not work.
I lean on both sides and rest my legs bouncing my weight every once in a while.
Sometimes I scratch my arm.
Eventually I put my hands together behind my back and move my fingers.
Forgetting where I am is impossible, but I am used to this, being in this gap does not feel strange anymore. I wonder if the neighbors are used to me too.
I heard someone saying hello once. I do not answer. I do not hear much more today, only one or two groups of people talking.

Interruption:
Church bells announcing 11 a.m.

Duration:
60 minutes. I will not come back here tomorrow.

One thought on “Waiting for Nothing to Happen. 5 days in 2 places. Weimar 2008.

  1. You are awesome Irene!!!! :)

    I love the way you meticulously describe your performances. I don’t think that guy had a right to call the police before finding out if you were ok first. I think you can fight that fine in court.

    I am the guy you met yesterday who interviewed you on camera at the Berlin Binneale.

    Hope to see you again soon in Berlin!

    -Renat

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