The others - training for neighbourhood
I only call my neighbor “The Buffalo” anyway. When I was invited to his place for his birthday, I gave him a beautiful and fragile butterfly of glass, and as he opened it I told him to be careful, since his present was breakable. So immediately he tears into the package, and the butterfly falls to the floor. I told him that he could surely exchange the butterfly at the store. “Yes yes, it doesn’t matter anyway,” he said. Then he tells his wife to show her stomach. What? And she does it! She pulls up her sweater. I’m thinking, nothing but skin and bones. You’re simply too fat, he tells her, in front of all the guests. That is my neighbor for you.
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I only call my neighbor “The Buffalo” anyway.
The point of The Others was to examine the phenomenon of neighborhood in the border triangle of Basel. I stood on the streets with a sign saying, “Show me your neighbors”. Thus, I met inhabitants of Basel whom I visited at home. I had them show me or describe their neighbors to me. From the texts and topics that emerged, together with other performers I developed a multi-step “Training for Neighborliness” at the Boxclub at Kaserne Basel. The elements of this training were: personal training to overcome cynicism towards “The Others”, a lecture-performance about “The Others”, an audio-play about a neighborhood disaster scenario, sound spectral analysis of neighborhood noises (sex, power drill, snoring, TV), and finally group training for a Utopian development of neighborhood.
A Tamil lives downstairs; that is his store. He always keeps a bit of an eye on me. He always knows which cigarettes I buy. If I buy another brand of cigarettes, he always knows that they are for someone else, and then he asks me who’s visiting my apartment tonight. However, that is not unpleasant, on the contrary, I am pleased. After all, I am here in Basel, and there aren’t that many people who keep an eye on me, and it is quite nice when somebody thinks about you.