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These days the line between art and theater seems to be getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Yes, there’s a stage, but is it really a show? If it takes place in a gallery but has actors and a script, does it make me an art editor?
Ship O’ Fools, designed by the Canadian artist pair Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, is technically an installation, and therefore, according to many, not a performance. But I’m reviewing it in this issue anyway, because I can.
The piece has a simple concept at heart: a ship full of small devices all combined to create a complete experience of being on a ship adrift at sea. The sensation of walking through has an old-time carnival funhouse feel, from ascending the wooden stairs to sliding the €1 admission into a child’s treasure chest. And the combined effect of entering the ship’s hull and hearing the curtain close behind me was one of the more transportative moments I’ve experienced with any kind of art in Berlin.
I will leave the rest of the ship’s secrets for you to discover yourself. Although the installation is not all that large, being restricted by the hull’s size, it is detailed, so it’s worth spending some time exploring the corners. Many narratives are easy to construct out of the singular elements, but none distracts from the overall submersion effect.
The one jarring aspect was the inclusion of a clipboard with instructions for the installation’s assembly within the ship’s hull. While this could have been a way of making transparent the process of creating the work, it was too anomalous to make much sense.
But all things considered, one of the more unique ways to spend a sunny afternoon this June is to delve into the charming, yet slightly disturbing world created inside a Chinese “junk” boat.
Jun 1-5, 7-12, 14-21:00