Co-performance of bodies and buildings : Compagnie Willi Dorner’s bodies in urban spaces and fitting and Asphalt Piloten’s around the block

Article English OPEN
Haedicke, Susan C. (2015)
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1353/tj.2015.0120
  • Subject: N1 | NA | PN2000 | HT

Street performances disrupt everyday activities in public spaces and challenge the status quo with propositions of alternative possible worlds. While many street performances rely upon urban public spaces and architecture as a way to expose normative behavioral codes and social constructions of seemingly neutral spaces, Compagnie Willi Dorner and Asphalt Piloten focus attention on re-placing the human body in and on city buildings to interrogate the complex materiality of urban architecture and imagine symbiotic links between bodies and buildings that revise expectations about city life. Their ephemeral performance installations appear to merge bodies and buildings, enabling the artists to dispute notions of architectural solidity and durability, to suggest the possibility of human thing-ness, and thus to question ways of inhabiting the city. Key to political engagement is that these artists create events in which the public, consciously or unconsciously, can re-view the workings of the city, and initiate debate (in words or actions) about the city’s priorities, processes, and agendas. The possible worlds suggested by Compagnie Willi Dorner and Asphalt Piloten are not completed projects, but rather stimuli for inquiry into alternative urban futures because they invite audiences to enter a reciprocal relationship between bodies and buildings that acknowledges mutual growth, change, and dependence. These alternatives enable the spectator to experience previously unimagined possible worlds—some optimistic, some exceedingly pessimistic.\ud
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