Seventeen urban tours presented by 27 artists from 12 countries: the B_Tour Festival, or International Festival of Guided Tours, rethinks Berlin through a series of hybrid artistic experiences. “There have always been walking artists,” explains artistic director Yael Sherill. “We differentiate walks that focus on a strong individual experience from guided tours: shaped walks with a clear framework for the audience.”
Artists, who are after all “trained to research, explore and reframe reality,” as the other artistic director, Christin Prätor, says, are invited to conceive tours, where encounters are as important as the content. Among them, A day in the life of…, created by Alkistis Thomidou, Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga, Martin Michette and Tinatin Gurgenidze, allows visitors to pass the anonymous urban façades of Wedding and Neukölln and share the daily lives of their inhabitants – from reading a book by someone’s bed to accompanying them to the grocery store.
An even more active participation is required by I’m a Stranger, a creative experiment imagined by The Demolition Project (Debbie Kent and Alisa Oleva) which gives visitors the dual role of both map-maker and map-reader – during the making you are invited to mark the path with your own impressions, and during the reading you can see the city through a stranger’s eyes.
For a more literary perspective, there’s 1989 Berlin through the lens of Charles Mee’s Berlin Circle, an audio-guided tour conceived by Daniel Brunet, English Theatre Berlin’s artistic director, based on Mee’s satirical reflection on the fall of communism and leading to Checkpoint Charlie, the Pergamon Museum and the Berliner Ensemble – where the artist’s description and the real-life sites merge to create a new perspective.
B_Tour | August 8-10, various locations, full programme at www.b-tour.org
Originally published in issue #129, July/August 2014.