Tales From the Cellar

Tales From the Cellar


Approx. 20 min.
Temporaerer FreiRaum fuer kuenstlerische Aktion, Hildesheim, Germany, 2009


Juergen Bernhard Kuck

Live performance

After receiving an invitation from the IPAH (International Performance Association Hildesheim) Yingmei Duan decided to spend four days in the gallery space, concluding her time with the following live performance:

The performance commences with an audience being led into a very dark basement with a low ceiling. After a while in the dark, the audience starts to hear noises, of someone or something moving within the room. Shortly afterwards another sound emerges, the sound of singing fills the room. It is not possible to identify whether the voice is that of a child or young woman and remains for a period ambiguous. Finally the voice engages in a conversation with itself:

“Who are you? – I am an object.

Where are you from? – I‘ve forgotten because I have been here for a very long time.

Where are you? – I don’t know … ”

Out of the darkness the weak light of a flashlight enables the viewers to recognize the silhouette of a performer among boxes, suitcases and furniture.

The audience now becomes aware that the performer is a woman rather than a child. She is wearing a large black coat. She speaks quietly and sometimes incomprehensively, hesitating from time to time:

“… I am a thing; I belong to a person with big black shoes, who is 1.85 metres tall. This person has brought me to a strange city and has lost me on his way … Someone has found me and since that time I am here in this room. I‘m still waiting for my owner and I hope that one day he will come and collect me…”

The narrative becomes continuously confusing as the performance progresses; becoming increasingly absurd, grotesque and dream like.

“… This is my suitcase and inside of it, is my grandma …

… My father is 104 years old …

… My mother is about 100 years old … ”

The performer is naked under her coat. Sporadically she illuminates her body with the flashlight and playfully touches her breasts and vagina.

“… There are so many rats here and I can hardly sleep … I‘m so tired…”

Finally, the performer lights, one by one, the faces of the audience.

“I just dreamt that I’ve seen the faces of many people…”