With her site-specific performance ‘Back to the Present’, which was performed in June and September 2003 in a former department store in the center of Berlin, Constanza Macras goes for a journey into the Past. Memory as looped feedback.
Where do you go when you don’t want to deal with the past or the future? The performers of Back to the Present find themselves in a common space; a casting for a reality show like big brother, survivor or Miss right. These shows are constantly recreated around the world sometimes with different names and they all have in common that they only exist in the present, in the flatness of everyday little struggles.
In the end, every mission – ancient Rome, old relationships, the space station MIR – every mission ends in garbage, ruin, and debris. Often, the debris lasts far longer than the original project. There is garbage orbiting the earth from 35 years ago, from a mission that lasted a day. Getting back to the present means living on top of layers of yesterday‘s throwaways, or underneath them, or between them.
Back to the Present: How do you recycle the stuff that never decomposes, like love letters, flags, old props, old ideas? As history becomes increasingly digital, what is the difference between storage and memory? Can you use memory – with all of its faults and imprecision – to make life experiences richer, rather than poorer?
Back to the Present lives in a sort of limbo between the layers of its own history. Like the MIR itself, like the sweet life itself, it will be leaving behind medals, uniforms and costumes, old props and programs, video recordings, broken and useless pieces of the set. Extend this further, the debris of past self destructive relationships: Torn cinema tickets, old phone numbers, love letters, cards from Valentine’s Day. All of these build the ruins that are the context and physical setting for Back to the Present.
After the success of the site-specific in Kaufhaus Jahndorf, an old department store, Constanza Macras in collaboration with the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz made a stage version of Back to the Present.
Eine Produktion von Constanza Macras/Dorky Park und Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz in Koproduktion mit sophiensælen Berlin, Lille 2004 – Kulturhauptstadt Europas, Maison des Arts de Créteil.