“Endstation”, Königswinter, Germany



Live performance

Dream journey through the operating room

Impressions of a performance by Yingmei Duan

the art project “Endstation St. Josef ” in Königswinter, July 2012




Yingmei Duan was invited to realize a performance in the exhibition Endstation St. Josef, that took place in an empty, structurally intact former hospital before its demolition. 


One week before her performance she worked very intensively on site surrounded by the work of 120 artists in the 100-room building. Her concept was to combine the performance space with sound, light, movement and time.


She decided to create a performance in an empty operating room, in which a movable surgical lamp dominated the space. The only not firmly anchored fixture was a wheeled stretcher used for transporting hospital patients. It became the main feature of the upcoming performance. The normally-open surgical door was shut with the sign “Admission by invitation” displayed.


Visitors were allowed to participate individually or in pairs as “patients” in the performance. The artist took the role of a doctor, with an assistant at her side. With this team, the visitors were alone in the room, therefore an atmosphere reminiscent of a situation in a hospital developed.


Yingmei asked the visitors to take off their shoes and lie down on the bed closing their eyes for the duration of the performance. Singing softly she moved the wheeled stretcher – very slowly at first, turning, circling, then faster and suddenly slowing down again so that the “patients” lost sense of the direction of movement.


Different noises created by the performer dominated the space: the squeak of rubber wheels on the plastic floor, the loud opening and slamming of doors and the rattling of bolts in a jar.


Yingmei’s assistant opened and closed the operation room’s door, sometimes quietly and sometimes very loudly with a bang. In addition, he repeatedly opened and closed the blinds of the windows, so that sometimes darkness and other times strong daylight entered the room in an irregular rhythm.


The performance-patients who endured all this were confused and disorientated. Many believed that the extremely bright operating light was directed at their eyes. On the basis of the door slamming, the noise from the wheels of the stretcher and the changing direction one audience member asked through how many rooms and floors they had been driven.


At the end of the performance Yingmei gave a Chinese hand and foot massage.


-The Bonn artist Ingrid Grieser, who also participated in Endstation, remembers:


“It was a complete surprise for me to witness a performance so directly. Actually, I was more likely to be prepared than the viewers.

So it was a special experience, in which I found myself in very different places. My initial brief feeling of dizziness in the twists of the bed quickly gave way to a succession of different places and feelings. I mentally went down a spiral staircase, was in the sea, the sun was shining, and I could even fly.

I was then brought back by the foot and hand massage. “