December 06, 2010

Parallel Cities

Parallel Cities/Ciudades Paralelas took place in Buenos Aires city the last days of November and first days of December. It consisted of a series of experiences carried out in public places such as a factory, a library, a hotel, a shopping mall, a train station. I was lucky to find tickets for two of the six tours, each tour involved two different "acts". The first tour I took was really fun to experience; it started at the National Library. I couldn't take any pictures there, because you had to abide by the library's rules and the people present were not supposed to know you weren't a normal reader. This is a video of the same experienced carried out in Berlin in September.


As you can see in the video, a pair of attendants were provided with an I-pod and a series of books each. There was a speaker who gave orders and well, the experience was really interesting. We read parts of three different books which stories were at some point similar and were asked to do some exercises in order to think about the importance of words. I bet semiologists would find this interesting.

The second location was a hotel, and fortunately, I was able to take pictures here. The point was to get to know 5 people from the cleaning staff by going through 5 rooms as if we were those employees. They're people we see whenever we stay at a hotel, but know nothing about them and sometimes don't even acknowledge their existence.

This is the first room I visited. Here I met her (the lady on the screen), she spoke about her life and stories she got to experience at work.

She said she usually finds disgusting things in the room such as used condoms and vibrators. She asked to look under the bed and this is what I found.

There was a huge pile of towels and sheets on the bed.

Since I was alone in the room, I got to hide a few mini Christmas cards for them. I put the first one under the phone.

The second room had pictures all over its walls and an I-pod hanging close to the door. Each section on the wall was numbered. The point was to listen to different tracks as you walked through the room.

There were pictures and objects that belonged to one of the cleaning ladies. Even her wedding dress was there in the closet!

I hid another Christmas card behind a frame on the bedside table.

In the third room there were lots of plants on the bed because this lady used to live in a yerba mate field. There was a recording playing on a stereo in the bathroom.

I hid the third Christmas card under a pot in the bathroom.

I'm posting this one because I know some of you might find it amusing. What's on the right to the WC is a bidet. I remember David laughed when he saw one the first time he came to Buenos Aires. All bathrooms have them here.

In the fourth room, there was a projector under the bed and a mirror on the wall, so I had to lie on the bed to watch the video projected on the ceiling.

The fifth room was on the last floor and was the biggest of all. It had access to a huge balcony and had a nice view of the city. Here, there were two pages on the desk where you could read the story of an employee who no longer worked there due to health problems.

And then the coolest thing of this experience: before I left the last room, someone knocked at the door and surprise! I found the lady I'd seen on video in the first room. She was really sweet and friendly and showed me round the parts of the hotel that guests do not normally see. I got to see her locker, the dining room where all the employees have their meals, the kitchen, I even said hi to a few people who were working. It was a great experience. Finally, I left, through the service door, of course.

I totally recommend taking this tour. So if you're in Warsaw or Zurich, don't miss it! Parallel Cities is going to be held in May and June 2011, respectively.

I leave this post with a video of one of the other experiences I took. Honestly, I thought this one was going to be way more exciting. It took place in a shopping mall; we (probably a hundred people) were provided with radios and headphones and we were told to do certain things through a pirate radio station. None of the people at the mall (except us) knew that there was something going on. Towards the end, we were asked to clap our hands; it was funny to see the security guards concerned about what was going on, hehe. By the way, the point of this experience was to reflect on consumerism.

Hope you're having a great week! :D


Chrissy said...

That seems like a lot of fun! Love that you hid the Christmas cards, so cute!
And your outfit is lovely!!!

Lindsey said...

Okay, that sounds really freaking AWESOME! That seems like it would be so much fun, jealous you got do that! Love that dress you're wearing too btw~

Devi Pope said...

Actually, I laughed when you tried to show me how it worked and it sprayed you in the face. Haha! =P

northwest is best said...

Wow, that's such a cool experience! I love art projects like this, which shows you more about the place you live. And nice pictures too xx

Nena Nadine said...

Very interesting. I never herd of anything like this.