The performance of July 5th: That's how our day went

At first it’s not quite clear what’s about to happen shortly. Over an agonizing long period of time Burchardplatz got crowded. The grey clay figures crept in from all sides. Silent and in slow motion, complemented by the metallic clatter coming from the invisible boxes in their hands. At this point the performance took up one and a half hours already. A procession of people that moved through the streets remotely - an empty gaze and dragging feet. The 1000 GESTALTEN shall represent a society that has lost their feeling for the fact that a different way of life is possible. It’s not the financial news that determine our happiness but healthy relationships. Happiness is not defined over what we have, but who we are.

The future hotbed

The weight of a life like this, its’ rigidity and bleakness – all of that conveyed onto the audience; Tourists, passengers and people that work in the neighbouring buildings, watching from their windows. Art doesn’t bring something across just by thinking about it. Art only unfolds if a feeling is forwarded to a place where thoughts don’t get to and this moment is the striking evidence. Then something happens inside the first figure. It wriggles as if in pain, bends over its’ torso, rubs its’ face, screams. Then it rips open the coat as if it was a straightjacket, tie and vest follow. Everything is thrown onto the floor and out of the clay that sprays upwards, a blue t-shirt appears.

The shape, freed from its’ shell staggers across the square and reaches out to the next shape initiating their transformation. She’s wearing a green t-shirt underneath the grey costume. A third one follows (turquoise) along with the fourth one (red) and fifteen minutes later a dusty cloud covers the square. That’s the actual symbol of this performance. Because suddenly that cloud keeps everything that has made those peoples life this grey. What are they doing? They turned colourful and they scream, dance and laugh. Grab hands and hug each other. The message came across and the audience cheered in. Another existence is possible and one is enough to start this change. The hotbed of the future is the scope between you and me – as claimed by one of the collective members on our website.  This scope multiplied.

"I participate on something like this for the very first time“

Six months of preparation finalise in this moment, which couldn’t have been imagined more beautiful by the nearly 100 people that form the collective. Many hundred volunteers are at the check in counters at Hamburg Oberhaven from 8 a.m. Many are based in Hamburg and Berlin. But they also arrived from Kiel and Rotterdam to take part that day. „It’s the first time that I take part on something like this“ a young women that’s interested in acting and art claims, but only if it is part of a social or political context. Children and elderly are there along with friends and busloads. After a few hours they have passed the free run of dressing, getting clayed and final supervision, that transforms so many individuals into a uniformed soulless army. If you wanna look at it like that, they handed in their souls in a plastic bag stating a number to be handed back after the performance.

And then they strike out, 25 groups in total, all of which have precise instructions about where they have to go, when and how. But after half an hour the instructions of the choreographers were miles away, a participant says later. „One can only improvise if there is a steady plan“ he says. The groups split away from their union. Indeed they arrive at where the choreography intended and at the times defined in advance, but they move in accordance to their feelings. They grey crust that becomes more and more rough the longer the performance continues, the dragging pace and the clatter, that occasionally swells on like a swarm of bees – all of this ensures that the performers don’t play no role anymore – they are shapes of clay. That image becomes even more surreal as they pass by the shopping windows in Hamburg city centre. Whiskey, catering trade and luxury department stores – a rather normal facade of todays’ life. 

"Wake up!"a user claims

For a long time the audience is not quite sure how to behave in the face of this procession. Some sit still on their chairs in the open-air areas of the restaurants around, but nevertheless continuously peep above the edge of their plates. Others stand right by the figures that simulate a break down and remain on the ground, to take pictures as if they were shot animals. Many however leave mobiles and cameras off, maybe because they are too much involved with the decoding of the message behind the performance and the question, what this means for themselves and their life’s. This is especially noticeable since the volume at Burchardplatz lowers, the longer the performance continues. At some point it’s just the clatter that rings out up until the moment in which the first shape frees itself of its’ shell.

The performance develops an independent existence in the Internet too. In a Facebook-Livestream several hundred users are watching continuously. That stream will reach over 300.000 users at the end of the day. They comment on what they see – moved at times or cynical. „There is no better way to show what alienation does to people“ someone writes. „A typical after hour“ a second one does and „That will be the future world if things keep on going as they do“ a third one states. Just before the final a message with just two words and an exclamation mark appears. „Wake up!“ This wake up call withholds the seamen that should implant into as many people as possible now. If the seed emerges at some point and each and every single one starts to embrace change within their own surroundings, then the dream that started sprouting with the 1000 GESTALTEN back in February, came true.

PS: The campaign is over, our crowd funding is still on. Who wants to help us to cover the costs for the campaign - we are happy about every donation.