Ciudades Paralelas - Parallel Cities

| A project curated by Lola Arias und Stefan Kaegi

Hotel rooms, shopping centres, factories... these are functional places, not usually thought of as interesting to the outside eye. But without them life in the city would be uninhabitable. Their ubiquitous, parallel existences the world over mean these places are instantly recognisable, each modelled on similar rules but displaying a local face.
For “Ciudades Paralelas”, Lola Arias and Stefan Kaegi have invited several artists to devise interventions into these kind of spaces. Eight artists have each chosen a location in the city as observation stations for urban phenomena. Some of them chose to work with radio recievers or headphones, others with a choir or with people in their workspaces.
The pieces vary in form: You can listen to some of them, others you can read or touch. Some are for 1, others for 100 spectators. Some of the performers are singers, others writers, passers-by or even the audience themselves.
Dominic Huber stages the inhabitants of an apartment block, and positions the viewers on the other side of the street. Like detectives investigating a crime never committed, they can spy on the residents and hear their conversations.
Gerardo Naumann’s factory workers take viewers on a subjective journey along the production line at their place of work.
Via headphones, Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells whisper to us over the silence of a library reading-room.Christian Garcia inscribes a Renaissance choral for amateur singers into the charged atmosphere of the columned entrance hall of a court building.Mariano Pensotti turns four authors into literary surveillance cameras who describe scenes in a railway station as they happen. The viewers read the texts as a novel unfolding live on large screens over the heads of its real-life figures.
The Ligna activists choreograph their listeners in a shopping mall, turning their movements into a conspiratorial radio ballet.
Lola Arias presents hotel rooms haunted by the stories of the cleaning staff composed primarily of foreign women – ghosts who appear when nobody else is there and clean up after other foreigners.And, late in the evening, Stefan Kaegi invites you to a roof with a view over the city to review all these experiences with a blind man. Rewinding the experiences from his perspective you find yourself wondering what you will remember of the day.
The projects make theatre out of public spaces used every day, and seduce the viewers into staying long enough for their perception to change. They invite you to subjectively experience places built for anonymous crowds.
“Ciudades Paralelas” offers eight perspectives on one city, three times over. A festival that doesn’t transport stage sets or companies of actors but ideas. In Berlin, Buenos Aires and Zurich, the projects are re-contextualized and staged over a three-week period with performers from each city. Via location scouting and casting sessions the eight artists are networked with each city. In this way, Ciudades Paralelas wanders from country to country as a mobile research laboratory, building up an archive of guerrilla tactics for appropriating cities.

Ciudades Paralelas is a Coproduction between HAU Berlin and Schauspielhaus Zürich, commissioned by Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Swiss Cultural foundation Pro Helvetia and Goethe Institut.