For my Masterprojekt at Kunstuniversität Linz I examined concepts of identity in numerous experiments by peeling tomatoes, myself and talking to people while they where doing this.
The conceptual work of my thesis was actually a Market Theatre, inspired by my research on Shuk Machane Yehuda at Bezalel Academy and the studies of Urban Design in Jerusalem, but in practice I started with planning for this in Breitensee, aiming to connect with my artwork the various local institutions. (Co-Working Space, Empty Shops, Movie Theatre, Caritas Charity Organisation, Church and Wishes of Residents)
The Breitenseer Lichtspiele as the oldest cinema of Europe I was told, has begun with screenings in a tent. The cinema is now located in it’s current venue at the beginning of the street where I had planned to conduct the market theatre. And as long as I did not have the guts to curate the market theatre, I organised a performative movie event. A movie was put together from my last years of artistic research, interrupted by a performance in the middle, where people did to me what I had been showing before on screen. I staged myself as the „performance artist“ to end my studies and for this we repeated a cultural custom of the Spanish Town Tarzona.
A prisoner was released from prison if he could make his way through the crowds, which were formerly throwing stones at him, but to remain with the tradition now replaced them with tomatoes. If he survived, the prisoner was set free. Today it is considered an honour to run through the rain of tomatoes, dressed up like a colourful figure, the „Cipotegato“. Once he reaches the statue in the middle of town, celebrations start.
Asked to queue outside by Debora Tauscher, the participants of a cinema performance were advised to have the Promi Pics taken by themselves, as Selfies on a red Carpet I have put together from dried tomato peel. At the entrance, by handshake they were welcomed only to find out later they have just signed up to take full responsibility for their own comfort and for everything that will happen during the time of screening and performance, advising them also to enter and leave as they wish. Lady Nutjub welcomed everyone separately, asking personal questions and seating people randomly in the room, also repeating the code of behaviour such as to be allowed to interrupt the performance at any time. Meanwhile I was sitting in front and peeling tomatoes. As everyone was seated I was too, sitting amongst the audience and peeling tomatoes sometimes getting advice on how to do things „right“, talking also about the tomatoes, their origin and what I am doing with them.
After the first half of the screening I took off my rubber boots and left the cinema. Outside I put on the the more artificially looking tomato-costume. My interpretation of Cipotegato was a feminine ‚clown‘ with tomatoes everywhere on her dress, red cheeks and high-heels. Sophie Netzer and Kerstin Reyer carried plastic foil from the back entry to the front exit, I followed them and we stood waiting outside for the audience, them holding the plastic foil in my back while I was standing in front of it, ready to escape my prison just as Cipotegato does in Tarzona, but quietly waiting. Lady Nutjob and Debo asked everyone to step outside giving the order to each take a tomato and throw at me. By confronting everyone with their reaction and thought processes, I combined inspiration taken from the work of Abramovic and Berthold Brecht, transforming the role of a visitor from a passive consumer into an active decision maker, a human being responsible for their action.