Although the day labourers were very visible on the streetscape and even in the media, because of their precarious working conditions, the results of their work are hidden to the public. Initially we aimed to engage the workers by using the festivals honorarium to hire them for building work on their waiting ground at Venloer Straße. However we could not find them when we wanted to talk to them about our proposal. Their sudden disappearance was unexpected but it eventually informed the project’s development. Since they became unavailable for the performance we decided to interact with the public directly by recounting the act of their disappearance. Like the contractors picking up the workers from the street and transferring them to a construction site, we decided to dislocate the audience of CityLeaks Urban Art Festival. A van without windows would offer transport through Ehrenfeld in the rear of the vehicle. At first the dark interior was disconcerting and the passengers would not know where the van is heading. However once the eyes accustomed to the low light, one could see a vague projection of the cityscape inside. The passengers were transferred inside of a camera obscura which vaguely showed the movement through the city. The upside-down projection was accompanied by a sound piece developed by vocal artist Aurielle Sciorilli which added a poetic layer to the street and motor noises. Like a film score it gave the transfer a time frame of beginning and end. When the music was over, we stopped and released our passengers somewhere in the city. The situation proposed to encounter the fragile conditions of the day laboreres by questioning the understanding of the city through a modulated experience. By driving through Ehrenfeld, the work reframed the city for the passengers within. Within the vehicle, the city was staged as the actor in a strange yet poetically transient performance.

Köln Ehrenfeld
Alex Schweder & Clemens Klein