Review of Traumkombinat
by JohnJ McGurk
A member of PIPS joined the collective on the adventure known as Traumkombinat in the small city of Brandenburg, an hour west of Berlin. Club Real is: Marianne Sonneck, Georg Springer, Thomas Hauck, Christoph Theussl, in collaboration with Florian Gass.
Club Real was looking for a space that could function as a center for dream research and collective subconscious cooperation. After a tram ride we arrived at the site, found in the heart of the housing projects of Brandenburg. A strange familiarity was apparent in the design of the space, as if they exist all over the world. The specific building is found and we proceed to gain access. It is concrete and cinder blocks with one main door and no windows. Apparently, this space we are about to enter was never used for anything, just an order to build for no particular reason.
Club Real moved ten tons of sand into the middle of the space, dismantled found furniture, and cleaned the interior. Creating new furniture and hanging the promotional sign took place, and Traumkombinat was well on its way to performance time. Details such as lighting and the hanging of a translucent screen were important for the success of the project. Luckily the group was sponsored and had a flat to sleep and take breaks.
On performance night we were greeted at the entrance by a chipmunk in exercise clothing. We are allowed entrance one by one...
Inside, we are greeted and led into the tea room. We all sit down for a cup of tea. An image of the mad hatters table in Alice in Wonderland flashes in the mind. Just like Alice, we are voluntarily gathering here to explore the deeper parts of the rabbit hole. Visions of future generations using dreaming as a communication tool seems possible here. Dimly lit, one can hardly see the strange objects hidden in the corners of the room.
After tea, we are invited by the Chipmunk to enter the glowing room of sand located in the center of the space. A 20ft screen has been erected in the shape of a cube, and a small box is located in the middle of the sandpit. The dreamers are led into the space and everyone gets ready for bed.
A bell rings and the lights dim. An ant-eater and his alter ego appear and begin to communicate and play---. Through a series of actions, some aggressive, others loving, the characters develop a meaningless relationship. Meaningless only because once a coherent metaphor or symbol begins to take shape the surrealist impulses take over and nonsense ensues. A large ear and nose enter and help the main characters with their foolish undertakings. A bike race takes place, with the two whirling around the outside of the sleeping area. All these can be easily seen because of the transparent screens.
At one point the overwhelming feeling that one was already dreaming took over and the distinction between sleep and awake became hazy. This may also be attributed to the calm of the atmosphere and the slow movements of the players involved. But this effect is desired in an age when real, virtual, and digital space blur into a fantastic barrage of imaginary desires and real concerns. It was good to be in an atmosphere where such things could be calmly thought about, adding to the feeling that one had entered a temple of dreams...
Would ant eaters be in my dreams? Would people dream the same things? Would there be beds with rockets for legs? These are the thoughts running through the mind as the performance ends and the bell slowly chimes away to close the performance.
…Old elementary school friends and teachers eating sushi and playing soccer. Goals blocked by known and unknown classmates, strange mixtures of past, present, and future friends…
We were woken by the same bell that put us to sleep and the spell was broken. At breakfast, discussion of the dreams seemed to be limited, a strange uneasy feeling seemed to be present. Had we all, deep down in the depths of the rabbit hole, had some kind of group subconscious moment, or were we just a little shaken from a night spent on a temporary beach? I think of the religious pilgrims who travel to Mecca each year and circle the holy shrine in groups of thousands. Is this not a similar attempt at collective dreaming, a complete loss of inhibition? With the uneasiness comes an understanding that in Alice’s world we are the most exposed and the Mad Hatter can make fun of our inability to truly understand our collective existence.
-JohnJ McGurk, July, 2004