Saturday, August 16, 2008


Twins Separated At Birth

The title World’s Biggest Model Railway doesn’t really cover it. This is a project that has got seriously out of hand. Yesterday we rolled up at 9.30 to find a two hour wait for an entrance slot. To meet demand they’ve shifted the opening time to 08.00, so there we were today at the crack of hangover and we got perhaps half an hour to ourselves before the crowds started to get serious again.

It’s pointless even starting to describe this miniatur-wunderland. A team of fanatics must have started off years ago and at some crucial moment their undertaking reached some critical mass and now it’s transformed into self-replicating behemoth, vast and insanely detailed, simultaneously compelling and repulsive. The trains are a starting point, an excuse, audience proxies gliding through the landscape our eyes are scanning from outside.

For these two weeks in Hamburg ours can be seen as parallel projects. Two miniature worlds are being built less than a kilometre from each other, one technically elaborate, one very simple, both full of stories. One full of movement but dead, the other totally still, yet fluid and alive.

There were no two hour waits to get to see the rice but we were happy with 312 visitors on the first day.

Post show we saw Hofesh Shechter’s dance company in the cavernous K6 space in Kampnagel. You enter under through a side door, the enormous seating bank squeaking and groaning above you as 800 people find their seats. The two pieces were engaging, their movement vocabulary seductive; loose and dynamic, full of tics and bold quotidian gesture, focused yet open and evocative. Like all my favourite dance pieces, it made me want to be on stage with the dancers joining in. They carried their technique lightly they made it seem possible that I could.

A frenetic day was rounded off with a cool glide home by boat through the dark, across the lakes, to the rich lights of down town.


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