Weimar´s layered cultural past seems to be present in every pore of the city. The city centre is like a walkable history book, overflowing with monuments, memorials, museums and important pieces of architecture. This small city is a container of a German cultural identity, a cultural mirror on which all this identity seems to be projected. All these elements create the perfect setting for touristic happenings and attractions. One of the many manifestations of how the city´s past is being preserved, held up, and worshipped are the horse-drawn carriages, which carry tourists through Weimar’s places of historical interest. The sound of the horse hooves and carriage wheels is like an acoustical marker in the streets of Weimar, bringing up visions of the bygone romantic times of Goethe and Schiller, and seeming to attempt in some way to make it real again, if only for a second.
In my first months in Weimar, this sound of horse hooves cobblestone always caught my attention. It was natural for me to connect with this sound, since I am a horse rider and horse enthusiast myself; but furthermore, this sound, in its beautiful penetrance, is also an autonomous acoustical element, an ongoing rhythm in the streets, but at the same time the representation of a city carrying a heavy load of cultural association.
I wanted to capture this sound of hooves on Weimar’s. To record the sound, I put myself into the role of the tourist, went on a horse carriage tour to collect the audio with a microphone. Played from speakers, the sound has an intense effect, and almost becomes abstracted from its original source.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Bauhaus University Faculty of Art & Design, a „Walk of Art“ was organized. The group of art walk participants was guided through the city, passing by various public art projects, realized by candidates of the „Public Art and New Artistic Strategies“ MFA program.
To play with this acoustical element of Weimar (and the town’s attachment to its own history), I concealed a speaker in my clothing, broadcasting the recorded sound of the horse carriage. In an extended performance piece, I accompanied the Walk of Art – joining the group, then disappearing as they moved between locations. Like the sound of the carriages within Weimar, I allowed the sound to come and go, rise and fall. At the same time, I was conducting a semi-touristic tour of Weimar myself, and occasionally making the Walk of Art participants a part of it.
The reactions to my horse carriage were really varied. Some found it funny, some smiled, some showed sympathy, and others derision. Many people, upon hearing the sound approaching, automatically moved from the middle of the streets, without even turning around, to make space for the arriving horse carriage. Others stopped walking, searched for the carriage, and were surprised instead to see me, walking accompanied by the sound of hooves. A few people reacted really enthusiastically to the surprise, and to the confusion of their expectations.