Cargo Sofia-X

A Bulgarian truck-ride through European cities

By Stefan Kaegi

Truck drivers

They have their first names written directly under the windscreen; they are sitting 2 meters above street-level and have 500 hp under their right foot. They have seen all countries of Europe but they know the cities only from signposts. Regional differences for them boil down to the fast food restaurants by the roadside toilets.
Bulgarian truck drivers used to supply the East with jeans and porno magazines and the West – with Bulgarian tea and Polish vegetables. In the enlarged European Union they are the nomads of cargo transport: they no longer have tents and not yet Internet, but they work and live on less than 6 mobile square meters in front of their 40-ton freight.

Nomads on motorways

Trucker magazines and country songs glorify them as road cowboys. A poll of the Institute for Auto Safety in Munich reveals that less than 25 per cent of truck drivers use safety belts. According to latest ADAC surveys 350 get injured and 20 die annually in road accidents involving trucks in Germany. Time is money and there should be no empty runs. Paper, meat or steel pipes – all cargo is term-bound. The customers only order when they need the goods. The motorway today has become the biggest storehouse of Europe.
By 2015 truck traffic is expected to increase by 60 per cent. By that time the European market will include 540million. In that space there will be free movement of goods by trucks, ships and trains. The road maps will then be replaced by GPS systems, and – who knows – the truck drivers by autopilots who will automatically keep the safe distance…

The Project

Cargo Sofia-X is a live spatial model. A site-specific performance for European and boarder-cities. Its freight is its potential and the laboratory nature of its stage production.

The truck is a converted Bulgarian truck carrying stories instead of goods. In the evening the truck is converted into a hall with a window at the lateral side of the vehicle, an audio system and several spotlights outside. Where goods used to be stacked in the past, now the audience is sitting and looking from a changed perspective back to their city. Thus the truck serves as an observatory, a theatre probe, a mobile binocular trained at the cities like a microscope. The audience includes 45 people from the city visited by the truck, invited to come to a central venue – in front of a theatre, a festival hall or a museum - and transferred for two hours from there to a roadside fast food restaurant, cargo handling ramps, warehouses or border checkpoints... On the road cordless microphones will transmit their mobile biographies live into the truck – a road movie which is no movie.

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