Thursday, 5th of March – The date with a weird touch
As I sit in the train from Amsterdam to Paris on that very 5th of march, to deliver my neatly framed photograph at Bank Oddo, where it will be shown in the exhibition “She Views Herself”, curated by Doris Kloster, from today until the 27th of march, I receive a text message from my boyfriend at home. It contains the first bad news of today: In the early morning, he had gone to get a vaccination in preparation of his 3 months stay in at the artist residency Heden There in Yogjakarta, Indonesia. When he was about to walk out of the hospital, he suddenly fell unconscious on the floor. It was only for a short moment but still I am worried as hell and have no possibility whatsoever to help him.
At that moment, the second incident happens: the train comes to a sudden stop. It is snowing outside and we are somewhere in northern France, not too far from Paris. It is 09:15 am. The conductor announces that we have a slight problem in the engine then the electricity fails. There is no more air conditioning, no warm water for coffee, tea or baby food, the toilets fail without energy, too. Half an hour later, the conductor passes by personally since the intercom doesn’t work either and tells us that the engine has caught fire and they are trying to fix the problem. People around me start calling their business partners, they shift their appointments, call their loved ones, tell them not to pick them up from the station and so on. But everybody remains calm, even the small children. Actually, the atmosphere is not bad at all. We are all in the same boat – or rather train – and we know there is nothing we can do but wait.
Shortly afterwards firefighters appear at the scene. They have to climb down from a bridge with special outfits and fire extinguishers on their backs. The conductor passes by again to tell us it will take longer then first thought. The fire fighters are having trouble to put the fire out. There is movement on the bridge. Private cars stop, people get out and watch the scene. Later I understand that they must have been journalists.
|admittedly the camera on my phone is pretty bad|
|but maybe you can recognize the fire fighter on the top of the stairs|
Eight – 8 – hours later, the electricity is turned on again and we start moving in the wrong direction: away from Paris to the next train station. There, several camera crews and train employees equipped with water and food await us. Everybody has missed his or her appointments by now. For lots of people it does not make sense to continue into the same direction. They choose to take busses back to Bruxelles and continue to Amsterdam from there. But I still have to deliver my work at the exhibition space. So I continue still in the same train but with a new engine and arrive at 6:30 pm in Paris, where I learn that all trains back to Amsterdam have been cancelled for today.
After I install my work, I call up my friend Madeleine. She arranges a wonderful dinner and I stay overnight in Paris, which is not bad at all. When I skype with my boyfriend he tells me he is already recovering from his fall.
|installing my work (in the back, a piece by: Andreia Sâmpăleanu)|
When I take the first train the next morning, the people that had a similar fate as me, are all in a bad mood. Everybody who has lost his or her train the day before is grumpy and unfriendly towards the train personal. Of course, the situation is not nice. The train is overbooked for all the extra passengers. Lots of people cannot find a seat and have to stand. Everybody had to spend an extra night in Paris, which is not cheap if you don’t have a Madeleine (like me). But I find the difference to the mood in yesterday’s “catastrophe train” striking… Interesting how a day of bad luck can be experienced so positively.