27 August, 19.00
Drought of the Elbe occurred again in 2022, as stones were appearing from the riverbed, and streams between highland and river have turned into meadow with no water, whose traces are still engraved in the concave form of the ground.
A performative act between Stadt Wehlen and the Elbe, exploring the possibility of modifying the found tectonics and landscapes into performative device, while creating an experience of embodying memories of places, as well as Bomätscher, those who worked and disappeared on the river.
The spatial sequence involved a bridge, a staircase, a tunnel, a light well, a dried stream and the Elbe. The intervention was minimal, achieved through introducing sounds, gestures, and a transparent string fixed between the highland and the Elbe.
The narrative was written into the physical experience of walking through the spatial sequence. The timeline was inserted physically in space through the transparent string, a solid yet open structure, which could only be seen by looking very carefully—an accidental hint and trace before and after the performance.
The performance was framed through different viewing points. The audiences were invited to pause and watch the action at any point (above the bridge, in front of the tunnel, along the stream …), while the gesture of gazing in the landscape was in itself a performative act.
Description based on accounts of the audiences
Through a staircase, we descended to the dried riverbed from the bridge, where a stream used to flow. Following sounds of water and distant voices, we entered a tunnel underneath the bridge, one after another. The tunnel was completely dark inside, which, without the knowledge of its length, before taking a slight turn towards the light, seemed endless.
Exiting from the other end of the tunnel, we stepped into a light well, standing very close to each other. A transparent string from upstream appeared from behind. As we were listening to a voice telling stories of the Elbe, which seemed to be coming from underwater, we found ourselves gradually tangled together by the transparent string, as if water were rising.
Then the performer took one head of the string, and stepped back into the tunnel, walking towards where we came from. Holding the string, we followed, one after another. Time seemed still in the tunnel before the slight turn, without the accompanying sounds; yet we were guided by the string that we were all holding onto, as if it were vision in the darkness. A familiar sensation of kindergarten excursions far back in time.
Coming out of the tunnel, the sudden change of light blurred our vision. It came to the flickering sight that, the performer was pulling the transparent string on one shoulder, which was hold in our hands, as if the Bomätscher were pulling up the ships with an invisible rope. The performer walked towards the river, while pulling the string that had been already drawn along the dried stream. We followed one after another. The path was hard to walk on, and we were all holding onto the string. After sometime, the scenery opened up, as we found ourselves in front of the Elbe.