A 'mobile' performance by an intercontinental messenger

Pushpa Achanta
Posted December 2, 2011 from India

BLOW UP 160, a participatory live media performance by Barbara Loreck, a theatre artist and trainer from Berlin in Germany, sounded esoteric, originally. However, its theme of mobile phones and text messages seemed interesting. “I have a mobile phone since August 2002. I want to describe some of my memorable or unwelcome experiences with this gadget”, Loreck mentioned before her recent interactive performance at the International Institute for Art, Culture and Democracy (IIACD) in Bangalore.

Welcoming everyone with a text message, Barbara projected on a screen, a few 160 character messages that she had received from friends and acquaintances previously ( hence the title BLOW UP 160). Recalling the sender and context behind them, she said, “I received some of these messages from people I met while travelling in Europe and Dubai. Deciding not to keep in touch with some persons, I ignored some messages”. Amidst her narratives, Loreck 'texted' questions or instructions such as “Follow the person beside you” or “Where can you find cheap hotels in Bangalore?” The audience responded with, “I am watching you” or “Try the Majestic area”.

Barbara was surprised at the practice of “giving a missed call” and intrigued by the recent legislations against promotional calls and messages. Regarding privacy, she remarked, “When you send a text message, you often reveal your location, activities, etc. Once, I had to change my mobile phone number and the instrument for my safety. Also, I could not disclose my whereabouts easily”.

The artist named Barbara Loreck ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A postgraduate in theatre, film and French, Loreck was a musician when young and a performer since 1994. Influenced by friends in experimental theatre, she uses video, live acts and movements to weave stories from ordinary objects and situations. “I prefer intercepting and tweaking normal things to obtain different perspectives. When the Euro appeared, I gave small boxes containing old European currency to my friends and family members requesting them to exchange that for material, money or intangibles. Among the people they met, some donated the currency. A few American tourists wanted it as a souvenir while some Belgians became suspicious”, Barbara shared.

Learning dance and movement arts during a 4-year Body-Mind-Centering Practitioner programme at Amherst (Massachusetts, USA), Loreck is a visiting professor at the University of the Arts in Berlin. Her latest projects include a collaborative performance with young Namibian theatre professionals under a research on post-colonialism and a video cum theatre initiative in a Berlin primary school about memories pertaining to the students' multi-ethnic urban environment. “My maternal grandfather studied Sanskrit but could not see India due to the world war. Hence I have a connection here although I have never visited earlier”, Loreck added.

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