Aften Land (1999)

An interactive performance devised as a hybrid between site specific, performance, installation and promenade theatre.

Aarhus Swimbath, also known as Spanien (Spain) to this day has a derelict and unused third floor, known as the Wholesaler Bath. Thus titled due the predominantly wealthy clientel that frequented the premises many years ago. In this site with its history, atmosphere and peculiar architecture we created a ‘dreamscape’ universe based on two overriding narratives: the body and systems deteriorating. The latter theme was inspired by Christine’s residency in Prague and the official theme for the Aarhus Festival week. The theme for the festival was “Eastern Europe – 10 years after the Wall came down” and Aften Land/The Occident perfomed in the Festival.

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Photo gallery colour  Photo gallery black/white

Artistic director and director: Christine Fentz Dramaturge: Synne Behrndt Performers: Per Andreasen, Mette Demuth, Tina Lauritsen, Peter Sloth Madsen, Poul Erik Michaelsen, Christian Schrøder, Leif Bach Sørensen, Ditlev Wolfhagen, Annika B. Lewis, samt Louise Bertelsen og Christine Fentz. Installation artists: Rebecca Eriksson, Glad Fryer, Jette Gejl, Marc Hartnett, Mads Wahlberg Sound artist: Rod Summers DJ: Stephen Williams Text: Thomas Bjerregaard og de medvirkende. Supported by: The Development Fund of the Ministery of Culture, Aarhus Festival Week, Aage & Johanne Louis-Hansens Fond, Dansepuljen by Danseværket and the Aarhus Council.

When arriving at the Swim bath in time for the performance, the audience – named ‘guests’ or ‘visitors’ would be asked to dig out their change and coins, take off their shoes and by a grumpy and rude ‘washer woman’ be handed blue plastic shoes to wear. They were then asked to leave their shoes with an even ruder bath attendant. After this initial ritual they were on their own, free to discover the different actions, rooms, installations and interact with the seemingly bizarre ‘inhabitants’ of the swim bath, who would behave as if they were partly performers and partly residents of the place. For the ‘guests’ it was difficult to negotiate the line between audience/performer or fiction/reality as they would find themselves part of the narrative/fiction. The performers/residents would bathe ‘oldfashioned style’ and naked in front of the ‘guests’, would perform strange 1920s gymnastic rituals and engage the guests in chats and conversation about their life and routine. Other performers/residents offered their ‘services’ to the guests, for example ‘sell’ their life stories and ‘offer’ information about other people in the Swim bath, perform intimate private/erotic dances, provide medical examinations according to rather obscure principles, invite the guests for foot baths, pour them a bowl of soup, etc. The guests, however, were expected to pay for these services and would be demanded to leave change, coins or payment everywhere they went. The inhabitants could be rather desperate and aggressive and at times a menacing atmosphere pervaded the performance. This reflected the experience of a contermporary Eastern Europe where everything is up for graps and sale. Other rooms in the Swim bath were reserved for installation and sound installation where there would be a different kind of story telling going on.

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