Performance and Epiphany

It was pitch black at the far end of Seminariegatan as I was heading for Konstepidemin on Epiphany Eve. There were a couple of boys in a doorway. It looked like a workshop, and I asked them if I was on the right track. Well, I should just walk along the footpath a bit along the mountain, and then there was a long steep staircase on the left, and at the top I would find the different stations in the performance festival 13Festivalen.

Small fires showed the way to the performance festival.

Well up there, I saw little fires burning here and where. I did not see any people but soon I realized that the fires marked where to go if you wanted to visit a performance. I slipped along the walls and felt a bit like a thief in the dark, or a peeping Tom. Which I was. I saw people moving in the dark inside the windows and thought that something was being prepared here, and over there something was going on already.

A door was slightly ajar, and I opened and walked in. Here people were looking for places in a small room without chairs. Someone sat on the floor and I followed the example. The room itself was in darkness, but on the wall hung a map that was illuminated. It was a map of the city of Gothenburg.

In the shady lighting, the women took turns to read.

Two women sat silently on chairs in front of the map. One began to read out loud. ”Vegagatan 32, where I fell with my bike and broke my leg the day when I was 10.” ”I gave birth to my son Anders on Friskväderstorget 6. It was on October 9, 1974.” ”At Upper Husargatan 8, I did my first job as a mason and I got 4:50 koronor an hour. It was 1971. ”

As usual, I’m not absolutely sure that this was the exact wording. But for 14 minutes, the two women sat down reading brief sentences about addresses in Gothenburg where people had experienced important things happening in their lives. On the wall behind them, photos were projected from the addresses mentioned. One after the other was read out, witinh quite monotonous brassy voices. On several of the pictures, a little white ball appeared. It looked like a ping-pong ball on which things were written.

The women’s voices stopped and they sat silent for a wtheir mouths open as if they wondered if it was over now or if something more would be said.

Thena rattle was heard From somewhere in the dark up by the ceiling little white balls came raining down. The two women instructed us. We were asked to take one ball each. And a pen that we now saw were available. ”Write an address in Gothenburg that you have a memory of. The address and a short description of the memory be written on the ball. ”Most people took a ball and started to write. I took one and knew immediately what I’d write and I wrote: ”Snickaregatan 23 in Annedal. There I met the woman who later became my wife. New Year’s Day 1971. ”

Some in the audience helped the women find their addresses on the map.

When we were done we left the balls to the two women. ”Now we will go to the addresses you have written. We’ll photograph the site, and at our next performance we show those pictures and read what you have written.

It struck me then that Snickaregatan does not exist anymore.

Ellington