Performance EIN SOUVENIR    



    Schaffhausen

Concept   During each summer up to 34000 day-trippers visit the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen. Especially in June and July, the thundering cascade makes an overwhelming impression when óne million litres of melt water per second fall down over a height of 21 metres. A railway bridge with a length of 180 metres crosses the river: trains on the route Winterthur - Schaffhausen pass in both directions every quarter of an hour.

How does it feel to be public property when one is taking a sightseeing spot as one's studio and obstructing the path for others? How does the public react as they are pushing their way through? What happens under this constant reciprocal pressure?

Between July 7 and July 22, 1990 I take my position in front of the Rhine Falls, on the footpath on the railway bridge. Every day I draw the rock molar of the Rheinfall from this fixed point of view. I am standing on the small footpath and behind me a train is passing every quarter of an hour. All spectators have to brush against me on their way from one bank of the Rheinfall to the other.

With a drawing board and some materials in front of me I am obstructing the path for the tourists. Between the railway and me there is only a small opening left to pass by.
  It is devastating: all these bodies, this sliding and moving against each other. Apart from this, there is also the uproar of the tourists, the noise the falling water produces, and the roaring train behind me, which strain my nerves to the utmost. I can hardly suppress the urge to turn around and smack someone - ányone. The increasing tension during this two-week stay is visible in the drawings: the handwriting becomes more and more nervous and instable. In this way the drawings mirror my mental and physical condition.

Many sightseers act as if I am not there, quasi-indifferent 'moving ahead' pretending as if nothing is happening. There are cultural differences, although they are rather cliché. For instance, Americans who try to strike up a conversation in order to reduce anxiety and tension or Japanese people who record me on video so that they can keep distance.

The local shopkeepers who earn their living out of this mass tourism are particularly shocked by my presence. They fear a decrease of income and complaints from the tourists. They hold a meeting, and they come up with a solution to address their worries: they present me as a new tourist attraction. The artist has become literally public property: she is for sale.
 

Timeline   12|8 - 2|11 1990
  Die Rheinkonferenz. Zu Ökologie und Sagenwelt, installation Ein Souvenir, FrauenMuseum, Bonn (D). Dimensions 236.2 x 118.1 x 39.4in / 600 x 300 x 100cm.
 

    October 1990
  Artists' book Ein Souvenir One of a kind, photos and text (Dutch only).
Dimensions 13.6 x 10.4in / 34.5 x 26.5cm.
 

    7|7 - 22|7 1990

  Performance Ein Souvenir at the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen (CH)(solo)
Fourteen Rhineletters, mixed media on paper. Dimensions 27.6 x 19.7in / 70 x 50cm.