I’ve always thought that if you stay long enough in a place, you start observing stories; pieces come together like a puzzle. I realized that this is a main characteristic of all public spaces. They are all heavy with personal stories, some of them in embryonic phase, other close to the end.
So this is an essay on the stories a public space can bring to light and it starts with the Museumsquartier, in Wien. The first part was about the kids that carelessly and uncaringly hang around the museums; this part goes about some temporary guests in the Museumsquartier.
As I was sitting on a bench, I noticed an inflation of some well-organized pink t-shirts; some random Chinese tourists, I thought at first. What was weird about these tourists is that new groups of pink t-shirts kept showing up and they all seemed a bit lost, but enthusiastically happy. I followed them and this is how I got in the backstages of Tanzquartier, a place inside the Museumquartier, destined for dance shows. The tourists proved to be groups of dancers from the huge territory of China and in a few hours they were having a show.
As I watched them rehearsing, I was amazed by their incredible discrete moves and powerful costumes. However, at some point I managed to get in the dressing rooms and there was a whole different world. The dancers were lying tired on the floor, putting make up and unwilling to be photographed. They closed the doors so I didn’t take any more photos.
Outside, a group kept practicing. It was made up of women over 60, tired and yet graceful. These ones didn’t mind the pictures. I thought it’s because they had their costumes on. What those in the dressing rooms disliked were not the pictures, but the idea of being photographed not with a glowing, beautiful costume, but with weary faces and normal clothes.
One of the dancers invited me to eat with them. So there I was, eating rice with a bunch of old Chinese dancers, smiling to each other, and not being able to exchange a word.
The show started at 7.30. After traveling thousands of km, each group had about 15 minutes at disposal to show their history of dance.
While watching the dances I couldn’t stop thinking about the real life of these women in China.
One of them gave me the address of her daughter in Beijing, in order for me to send her the pictures and have a place to stay over, in case I would visit their country. The daughter never answered the email..