Sometimes I think, I can see you

Metro Botanique / Kruidtuin

13, 14, 20, 21/05 – 20:00 > 22:00
15, 22/05 – 16:00 > 18:00
FR / NL

The woman in the scarf on the platform opposite has had a bad day and the man with the beard is hiding a dark secret. At least, that is what it says on the large screen above them. None of this necessarily has to be true, but everything could be true… In the metro station, speculations concerning the lives of anonymous individuals float around live… With Sometimes I think, I can see you, Mariano Pensotti transforms four writers into literary surveillance cameras. A laptop on their knees, they describe and fictionalise scenes as they unfold in reality. For La Marea (2006), the Argentine director turned Rue de Flandre into a theatre stage. This time, it is a metro station that is the setting for living novel-photos exploring the poetic distance between the image and the text, the real and the fictional. And for a few minutes, we become voyeurs, agents provocateurs even, of small urban stories in the process of being invented. But… curtain! The metro train arrives and heads off again… Perhaps it is carrying an invitation to enchant the world again?

Concept
Mariano Pensotti

Writers
Kenan Görgün, Jeroen Theunissen, Johan Reyniers, Christine Aventin

Presentation
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, STIB/MIVB

Supported by
Het beschrijf (Brussels)

This project was created in the frame of Ciudades Paralelas, a festival of portable theatre curated by Lola Arias and Stefan Kaegi, production management by Katja Timmerberg. Ciudades Paralelas is a coproduction between HAU Berlin and Schauspielhaus Zürich in collaboration with Goethe Institute Warsaw and Teatr Nowy, commissioned by Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Swiss Cultural foundation Pro Helvetia and Goethe Institute Buenos Aires

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Sometimes I think, I can see you

1.
An underground railway station. A public area with people passing through every day.
Four writers, half hidden, observe the place from different viewpoints.
They write, making a live account of everything they see in the station.
They describe the people; they relate the possible stories of those people and their thoughts.
Each writer has his laptop connected to a video screen. Everything they are writing is projected on those four screens.
The casual onlookers and passers-by in the underground station become part of the writers’ tale. On looking at the screens, they discover that, just like the persons around them, they are being transformed into characters of a story being created at that very moment.
They witness how the writers create stories by drawing on the specific reality surrounding them. They are part of the creation of a collective tale reflecting a time and a space.
They are watched, observed, but at the same time as their actions inside the station they have the possibility of “performing”, and thereby interfering in that story; the writers are obliged to write down everything they do.
Like security cameras that capture everything that happens, or like those instant photo booths that we usually find in train stations, each writer creates tales reflecting what he sees or imagines about the people and the possible stories hidden in that busy place.

2.
What do we see when we look at others? What do others see when they look at us?
What is the story of the persons whose paths we cross every day? What are their thoughts?
The intention is to discover all the hidden stories that there are to find in a public space and the persons who pass through it.
That is what this work is about, an experience of “subtitling reality” to have access to that dimension which usually remains hidden.
Underground stations, like most public spaces, are busy traffic areas but they are also places where identities are built: day after day, it is the place where people repeat the same actions, choreograph their own lives for other persons, unknown spectators who perform for others in turn. We are aware of others and of ourselves in a way in which we are not aware in private places.
In underground stations, especially, there is a waiting situation that seems to invite us to observe others or to put ourselves on display.
We all perform in our lives. In a public area, our behaviour is characteristic of whoever feels observed by others. We believe we are the leading actors in an imaginary film which is projected in our heads.
This work researches what happens when someone begins to make a live written record of the hidden subtitles of our lives. It aims to bring us face to face with what happens to us when we discover that we are openly a character and how our everyday performance changes on being reflected by a fictional mirror.

3.
In the last 10 years, there has been a spectacular spread in the surveillance of public places and it is practically impossible to find an underground station that is not full of video cameras.
The work proposes to transform the writers into such cameras that produce description and fiction as a way to construct a form of literary surveillance of a specific place.
At the same time, it produces a register, a kind of documentation about that specific place and everything that happens there for a certain lapse of time.
An archive that becomes a time capsule of the everyday life of a portion of the city.
In the work, the writer is a voyeur of alien lives. It is also a manner of inviting the spectators to change into spies of others, to look at other people openly and to discoverhow much of ourselves could be on them.
It involves imagining and telling someone while we ourselves are imagined and narrated.
For some time in my works, I have been obsessed by the great narratives of the 19th century. In that case, the writer, such as Balzac, for instance, can be transformed into an entomologist, a fictional scientist of surrounding reality. The writer studies persons and their behaviour as a biologist would study the behaviour of certain animals.
The extraordinary fuses with the commonplace and the everyday.
The writers create a strange kind of live novel reflecting from different viewpoints, and with their own styles, everything that is happening in a particular place in the city.
They enjoy total impunity in imagining the life of the persons surrounding them, but at the same time they become workers, literary machines producing fiction without stopping for a certain amount of time. Fiction which is constantly changed by what people do.

4.
The interweaving of literature, theatre and urban space is a constant in my work.
Sometimes I think, I can see you may also be seen as a film made of words that is created live and where the persons are the actors.
One of the central ideas of the work is how life becomes fiction and how fiction becomes life. What is the story of all those persons I do not know? Does reading a story invented about myself change me, transform me into that character?
For some time, I have been interested in how our fiction changes reality but also in how reality changes our fiction. Public space and persons are altered, to a greater or lesser extent, by the intervention of the work but at the same time that space and those persons are continuously transforming the work.
Observation changes what is observed but also the observer.

5.

In the crowds of strangers, we always think we see familiar faces. Are they persons whom we have already previously seen in those places? Are they persons who remind us of other persons? Is it someone for whom we have been unconsciously searching for some time? Is our observation limited and do we see everyone alike?
Our memory and our imagination sometimes create what we see.
Sometimes I see you and other times I think I can see you.

Mariano Pensotti

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Mariano Pensotti (°1973) lives and works in Buenos Aires. Although he began his career in film, in recent years he has primarily been active as a theatre director and writer. In 2004 he created, together with Beatriz Catani, Los Muertos, a production which premièred at the Hebbel am Ufer theatre in Berlin. Other pieces include Vapor (2004), El Río (2004), Ojos Ajenos (2000), Trieste (2001) and Los 8 de Julio (2002). Since then he has notably written and directed Interiores (2007), and he has directed Colega de nadie (2008), written by Johannes Schrettle. Mariano Pensotti has also been the Residency Director of Dramatic Arts of the National University of the Arts in Buenos Aires.

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