Things not to forget.
the name of the lady form Serbia. Or was it Croatia?
Her daughters. I still have a picture of them. And a recording of her voice.
Here are the three little girls from long lost Yugoslavia stranded in the middle of nowhere (we’ll get back to this). But they speak the local language (Norwegian).
The Afghan ladies crossing the streets of Vadso. Dresses covering them in blue.
the bar. the cold. the starry nights. the cold again. the walks. the horizon. the isolation. The blue waters and perfect sand beaches on the edge of Europe, by minus 5 in the end of summer.
What i remember.
In the small town of Vadso, far far north. Where they burned over 300 witches in less than a century (I’m probably exaggerating, it would have probably taken them a couple of centuries to find so many god fearing women to burn in such a deserted place). Near Vardo, facing Russia, where the Komintern sent their people to take political courses. Used to be called little Moscow. Then they had a fishing factory. But it closed. They preferred to can their products in China. They have a telescope though. A huge aluminum balloon on this moon-like landscape. A place where, during the terrible winters, some men lived in caves carved in the cliffs along the North Sea - eating dry bread and drinking vodka, while spying on German boats. Some even lived under hull of boats for months, hiding from the nazis. We took a picture next to one of those house-boats.
The lady’s story.
Because she was the “stranger”, probably not here for long; and she was assumed to be linked to no one who knew them, they talked. People were not afraid to confide to her. Their private life, how they cheated on their wives, or how they hated our performance (which was happening in the next room), or how it simply bored them. They talked with confidence to the lady with a strange dress (she had chosen something golden, or maybe silver, something very baroque, very music hall). She also had lipstick. I remember the contrast. meeting her for the first time in this freezing abandoned pub, we were all sitting on dirty chairs next to the heater. She - 40, 45 years old, talking about her terrible life with a smile, with a kind of indifference to her own suffering, her family scattered across Europe. What the people didn’t know is that she and her daughters, tricking them into pouring their hearts out, were actually recording everything. I remember her face when she gave me back the cassette recorder.
Images of Iran.
Sima was with us, and that was at the same exact moment of the demonstrations in Iran. We showed that. In the ruined kitchen. The streets of Teheran filmed with cell phones, projected on a wall in Vadso. The confusion, the shouts, the blood, the police, the smoke, the violence. And i don’t know really what happened for the people who saw this. I don’t know what it is we did then.
Things i choose not to tell.
Things i want to keep assembled, even if they do not match.
I want to hold them together, the same way we made things that were so different in our performance hold together (the images of iran, the dancing on the floor with blinding lights, the string which people played with, making a huge net around the empty bar, the room for secrets, the gas barrels barring the room in two, the recordings of Moroccan voices).
Iran and the silent look of the good people of Vadso.
The impossibility to comment. To argue, to adjudicate.
A peripheral world holding on to another peripheral world. People from the outskirts, stranded: off the boat from Afghanistan, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania... Nothing exotic. This is not even the dust-colored camps of Somalia or the long walk of refugees through the green hills of Congo-Kinshasa. This is just the waiting zone.
But the little girls started to speak Norwegian, and to play football. One of them is not in the pictures.
They did feel comfortable with the WE INSIST nonsense, they understood that feeling of having to grab what is left, and hold on to it, make it play and make sense out of it.
I have been longing to hear their voices again ever since that night.
Oh yes and i remember that when everything was over, we almost set fire to the bar because of forgotten candles.