What moves me

C‘mon, let’s go

Teenagers are urban nomads. They spend hours wandering the neighbourhood and hanging out in playgrounds, on street corners and outside the local shop. Author Elisa Aseva has been working with a group of teens on a ‘Get Involved!’ project

Participative youth project
Young participants with different experiences develop this project together with experts in music, direction and text in a creative and participatory process, at the end of which there will be two performances in the Tischlerei.
Conception, direction: Evi Nakou, Katja Wischniewski 
11, 12 February 2022

We’re planning a participatory project for young people. Over the course of the winter holiday fortnight a variety of teams will be working on processes culminating in a concert of their own making involving lyrics, music, video and other elements. We don’t have much to show at the moment, but that’s nothing new at a time like this. Kuku Schrapnell, my co-author, and I are conducting workshops with the youngsters to generate the texts. We want to go out on location and then come back and describe the place and, with the kids, see what happens when boundaries dissolve – when interior and exterior merge. If that seems a bit abstract, believe me: it’s anything but.

»Wanderlust« is about the interior landscapes, which we all have inside of us, as reflections of the exterior landscapes we find ourselves in. We are not talking here about ascribed conditions relating to homeland or identity – and if these do impinge, then we will be seeking to subvert these concepts along with others, to understand that they are derived from experiences. Neither is this about science fiction, which was the thread being followed some months back. We are not trying to come up with our own versions of Utopia, let alone something »new«. I think it’s quite brazen of people to constantly expect young people to produce grand designs for the future, when we can’t even get the present right.

People are constantly making connections between their world and the exterior world. By getting teenagers to describe a location or landscape, we want to give them the experience of self-discovery, of realising who they are, how many of them there are and what is going on deep within them. I was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Baden-Württemberg. As soon as I get out into the vineyards, I assume a form that I never have in Berlin. When I’m back in Kreuzberg, I’m back to being someone totally different. I was five months old when my family had to leave Ethiopia and came with me to Baden-Württemberg. I was an ‘odd one out’ in school and preferred to spend my time in libraries or with other outsiders. When my mum was ill, my brother and I spent a few years in a home. I’d say my mother and other women had a big part in forming my character.

I’ve been working in a vaccination centre. My first book, »Wanderlust«, was published last year. It’s made up exclusively of comments and thoughts that occur to me and which I’ve posted on Facebook over the last three years.

People are vessels of resonation. »Wanderlust« is about feeling resonations in one’s own body, about getting back to the old tradition of going for a walk, aimlessly and with no thought that there must be a point to it. We want to revive the idea of the flâneur, strolling and browsing with no precise goal and with no purpose other than sensory experience.

Puberty is about transformation, and it is precisely these experiences that are important when it comes to conveying to us who we are, how we are viewed by others, who we might actually be, and who our friends and enemies are. Here, too, the first task is to walk around the city – in our case Berlin – and put out feelers as a way of staking out one’s own interior world of experience.

Elisa Aseva made her literary debut in 2021. The texts for »Wanderlust« are generated during city tours undertaken with the young participants © Private

Teenagers have a lot of time on their hands, but that is not to say that this act of walking through neighbourhoods is an adolescent thing. Most adults are simply doing more tedious, more repetitive jobs as a direct result of the demands of capitalism. The moment we break out of our labour-market paradigm, we too resume our ambling through the city. Occupations that involve repetitive, short-unit routines are actually a modern phenomenon. People’s experience of the urban Moloch as a pulsating, rhythmic cityscape, as a machine that devours human beings and has them moving around on conveyor belts, is a key theme of an industrialisation that is reflected across the arts. But wherever people manage to wrest some ‘me’ time from the grinding pistons of capitalism, we go back to being browsers and strollers, ambling in amazement through the urban environment – and at last failing, for once, to find ourselves.


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