Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Labyrinth - Peristal Singum

I waited for my new friend, A, for a half hour sitting at the bar at Salon zur Wilden Renate. She had gotten lost; her iPhone had her to go somewhere near Rigaer Strasse rather than to Alt-Stralau 70, near the Treptow Park S-Bahn. We are going to visit Peristal Singum, the art project / labyrinth built in connection to Renate. I've heard it's disturbing and cool, and I'm very curious, A's excited. At the bar a girl asks me if I was already in the labyrinth. "I was going to go, but as my friend was going in she saw a girl crying inside the doors, so we didn't want to go anymore," she says.

A arrives and we are sit in front of a fire place, holding giant golden coins, waiting. I finish my small bottle of Pilsner Urquell and get invited to follow a girl wearing a Davy Crockett style coonskin hat. I leave my bag and scarf behind the bar. I keep my winter jacket on – I don't want to get lost in a labyrinth and be cold, too. I'm a bit nervous. She ties a scarf around my head to cover my eyes. She makes sure I have my gold coin as she slowly leads me to the entrance. She speaks softly and tells me to forget my stress and worries and to stay in "there" as long as I want to. "So it's my happy place, then?" I laugh dryly.

After I insert my coin in the door it takes me embarrassingly long to figure out how to actually enter the Peristal Singum. I can't be sure if I'm feeling excited or scared. I hurry my steps. I try to smile to encourage myself. I walk through hallways bedecked with scruffy collages of old wallpaper, painting and pictures and am lead to a hole. I have to kneel down to look into it – but it's dark and it twists in a downward spiral. I realise it's a slide and that I have no choice but to ride it.

I don't want to describe my Peristal Singum experience in detail, as not to ruin it for anyone. After the slide came more dark holes, pits and narrow corridors. I definitively had to push myself. I felt claustrophobic not knowing where the exit was and how long it would take to find it. I wanted out. I crawled through a tunnel and poked my head out and found my friend A. With her excitement and the light from her iPhone we faced the pits, tunnels and the darkness together. When we found the exit all I could think about was the bar and having a shot of vodka, but A wanted to keep exploring all the routes and doorways we didn't try yet. Knowing where the exit was made things easier.

Back at the bar, after a shot of Stolichnaya each, A reckoned it was a pity that she didn't have a chance to be alone in there – she missed the core of the installation: discomfort and endurance.

It costs €10 to enter the labyrinth. Only one person can enter at a time. You can't book a ticket in advance, you just show up and express interest.


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