Art in public space
“Art train” between Dresden and Wroclaw October 2016
Dresden, 16th of Okctober 2016
The Dresden – Wroclaw rail line has reopened. An “art train” runs from April to November 2016. Various artists participated with performance projects, among others Svea Duwe with “Mirror Stations”..
Saturday morning, October 15, 2016, Dresden Central Station. There is a dense crowd in the Dresden station concourse. The structure of a mirrored wall is a pole of rest. A group of eight people have placed themselves in a tight circle with their backs to each other.
Seven of them are holding a portable man-sized mirror in front of them, facing the surroundings. The eighth holds a flagpole. The end of the bright red flag becomes a kind of balaclava. Through the eye slits, the flag bearer looks intently into the crowd.
Travelers, soccer fans and passers-by.. –
People are making their way. Many in groups: It’s football today. Some look irritated at their reflections and the formation of the mirrors. A football fan stops and checks his hairstyle in the mirror. Laughing, he moves on with his mates.
Another man smiles and makes a thumbs-up sign. “What’s that?” asks a woman passing by. She does not get an answer as the performers remain behind the mirrors. The flag bearer remains silent.
Mirrored / Relected
A few metres away stands Svea Duwe, who would certainly have been ready to answer. She is the artist who created the concept for the performance. The action today is only one part of the performance project “Mirrorstations”.
Svea Duwe is discussing with a police officer. He and his colleagues stand tense and attentive not far from the mirrors. They are in full gear. Football match days make the station a place of tension.
Finally everything has been clarified. Permission and announcement letter from the city of Dresden and the railway company Trillex was checked by phone.
Dresden-Wroclaw Art Train
Now the mirror formation can dissolve. The performers walk onto the platform with their mirrors arranged on one side. Here the wandering mirror wall dissolves. The mirror bearers stand together in twos or threes.
The train to Wroclaw pulls in. The scattered mirrors start to move. In the entrance area of the train, some of them form an open prism. They mirror the passengers boarding. Others take their seats and reflect the gazes of the passengers across the carriage. Unexpected lines of sight emerge. Glances meet. Some people smile.
Curiosity, criticism, approval
Svea Duwe talks to the conductor. Again, he is not well informed, although a large banner identifies the train as an “art train”.
A few stations later, the performance group re-forms into a whole. A folding mirror wall moves through the rows of seats. The flag bearer walks away in front.
An elderly lady looks up with interest and then talks animatedly with a fellow passenger. Others stubbornly look straight ahead. Some cannot resist the seduction of the new perspective. Some smile. “Great,” says one man “holding up the mirror!” Another pulls out his smartphone and takes a photo.
A few women complain to Svea Duwe. It’s too cramped to do something like that. You would get claustrophobic. And anyway – what’s the point of all this? And this, of all things, when it is so crowded.
As the performers walk through the train in another formation, the older lady looks very interested again: “May I ask what this is all about?” One of the mirror bearers stops, “It’s an art project.” “You know – it’s very touching. I’m driving this route for the first time in a long time…. And your action here so obviously opens up what’s moving me right now…So as a traveller. As a human being.” The old lady falters. “No. I think it’s good.”
Wroclaw station forecourt
Arriving in Wroclaw, the performers gather again in a round mirror formation. Passers-by walk by curiously. They take photos. Conversations are sought. And now it continues in English between performers and interested spectators.
Some spectators are rather uncomfortable. They are two security guards. They do not belong to the police. But they have clear tasks in their high-visibility waistcoats, outfits and batons dangling from their belts.
They have nothing more than condescending laughter for the formation. In their gestures, they leave no doubt about who is the boss. The fact that the art project also contributes to the cultural life of the Capital of Culture obviously interests them little.
Space for art – mirror of the public
Again Svea Duwe explains and defends. Finally, the group goes into mirror wall formation. Passers-by mirror themselves. They look interested, take photos. With the masked flag bearer fluttering in front, they slowly move towards the city centre.