July 07, 2008

Performance Art at Amsterdam Central Station

I am a huge fan of the American group Improv Everywhere and would LOVE to have been part of their fab event at Grand Central Station in NYC, for example. So it was with great delight that I ended up in the middle of a performance art piece in Amsterdam this evening. Standing on the platform to get the airport train at Central Station, I noticed a man in a white suit covered in black dirt (as if he had had a serious fall in the road and been dragged behind a tram). He was looking forlorn, sitting on a suitcase surrounded by another 6 or so suitcases of varying sizes that were half-charred, split open and otherwise in disrepair. I assumed he was an off-duty mime who had unsuccessfully tried to remove his black face paint in public and was now taking himself and his props to the airport. Although I did marvel at just how much luggage one solitary street performer had with him. Suddenly, he gathered up his bags and started twitching off down the platform, very slowly, stopping and looking up and down, bumping into railing etc. Myself and a few others watched him until I noticed a man further off walking backwards, stopping to take a sip of coffee and setting off forwards again for a few stops - only to come to a dead-stop once more, take a sip of coffee and set off backwards again. Then a man dressed as a station cleaner (luminous yellow safety vest) carried an unconscious woman in his arms, approached a dumpster on wheels, opened it, put her inside the dumpster and wheeled her down the platform. A woman in a bright pink dress with a small black suitcase paced backwards and forwards with dramatic flair and our man the suitcase mime continued to look as if he might inadvertently step out in front of a train at any minute and be dragged off. Someone pretending to be an American tourist in a baseball cap (or perhaps it was the director) followed each of them in turn with a video camera, acting amazed. (Okay, for all I know he WAS an amazed American tourist with a video camera, but somehow I doubt it - there was something studied in his movements that made me think he was imitating someone.)

Although the platform was crowded, not everyone noticed the goings-on... which is what makes it even weirder. And because I had packed my camera up and didn't want to be digging around in my bag while this stuff was going on around me, I didn't get a picture. So I hope you enjoy the canal houses and Haarlem Station instead.

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