Sunday, 17 May 2009

Tunnel 228

A website for Track & Rail Cleaning Ltd, a map and a timeslot: the Tunnel 228 project wasn't giving much away. Luckily, I signed up anyway before all the tickets ran out. Walking into the unknown, ticket inspected, hand stamped and mask donned, was hardly reassuring.

The event is a mixture of theatre and art exhibition, a collaboration between Punchdrunk, specialists in 'immersive theatre', the Old Vic's Kevin Spacey, and a number of artists. It all takes place in a tunnel under Waterloo Station. Inspired by Fritz Lang's 1927 silent film Metropolis, there are also overtones of 1984 and Edgar Allen Poe. The compulsory face mask worn by all visitors adds a topically apocalyptic note.

Metropolis portrayed a world divided into two classes: thinkers above ground and workers below. Here, we are clearly in the realm of the workers. They move around adjusting the large, noisy mechanisms of The Machine; walk along the ceiling carrying single flowers; push a trolley back and forth along a length of track...

However, in the corners and side rooms are pieces of art: a paper forest whose paper moths stream towards the light, tiny city scenes with bingo halls and petrol stations, sinister objects such as a coffin filled with baby birds, and slumped, immobile bodies.

On leaving this environment, the spell is not immediately broken: the door leads into the Leake Street tunnel, its walls vivid with graffiti. The visitor steps out holding a book of the project, which suggests an opportunity to reflect upon a strangely absorbing, unsettling experience.


Anonymous said...

It sounds really eerie. and Moths? I would expect to get away from them underground.

CarolineLD said...

Yes, it was eerie - especially the moths because I'm a little uneasy about them!