“Women Chopping Wood” at Alexanderplatz

As I am working near Alexanderplatz I coincidentally ran into a live installation by choreographer Dorte Olesen, taking place at
Alexanderplatz on 29, 30 Jun and 1 July.

To my surprise the Alexanderplatz was filled with women between the ages of 50 and 90 sawing, chopping and stacking wood, accompanied by a loud noisy sound of motor saws and chopping sounds, that where taped in action, amplified and transmitted via audio boxes.

I was totally overwhelmed by this whole performance and thought it was about the coolest thing I’ve seen on Alexanderplatz so far. Reading a leaflet, informing me this was “A manifestation of female strength and community feeling, of making the countryside visible in the city and depicting/ demonstrating the physical strength needed to generate energy.” I got a bit confused, but still, the words “physical strength” and “energy” where matching the scene in front of me.

“15 Swedish women will travel to Berlin to meet a group of German women. They will have three days to complete their task: transforming 30 cubic metres of logs into imaginative woodpiles. The challenge includes co-operation, communication and getting to know one another across language and national barriers.”, so the leaflet said. Wow, this was an international feminist summer camp!  The women worked together, got to know each other, gossiped together, took photographs of each other. Everything proceeded as if the women weren’t being watched by an irritated crowd of “Saturn”- or “Kaufhof”- shoppers or business workers on lunch break.

The reactions were diverse, but mostly divided by gender; while most female spectators were first a bit shy and hesitating  but then seemed to enjoy the whole athmosphere, laughed and made eyecontact with the women, most men were immediately attracted to the scene, looked very curious and fascinated, but then their curiousity turned into seemingly unsettling irritation. “Why are these women doing this?” “Was soll das?” I saw some men shaking their heads. Groups of men were making jokes, but just to distance themselves.

I took some photographs and a film with my mobile phone.


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