Wasteland Twinning Ceremony

3 part ceremony 15th June, 11th September and 22nd September 2012

Corner of Riley & Albion St, Surry Hills, Sydney

Lena Obergfell

The wasteland site on the corner of Riley and Albion is located in the suburb of Surry Hills, south-east of the Central Business District in Sydney. In the early 1800s Surry Hills was known for its light industries, especially the rag trade, and became a working class suburb predominantly inhabited by new immigrants. The suburb developed a reputation for crime and violence. Contemporary gentrification started around 1980. The current demographic of Surry Hills is a mixture of relatively affluent newcomers. The rag trade is still in the suburb and a number of transient persons from hostels and facilities for the homeless frequent the area.

The site itself had been vacant for about 15 years. Since the beginning of this year the owners, Energy Australia, the largest energy company in Australasia, has started to develop the City East Cable Tunnel on the site. Water seepage caused by previous excavation had led to the creation of a small lake, and trees and vines were flourishing around the site’s perimeter, taking away from its edginess and reminding visitors of Sydney Harbour, which is located only moments away.

In October 2011 the first signs of development were evident in the form of a Portaloo, generator driven lights and the lake being pumped dry. By December 2011 the lake had been completely drained of water and construction was in fully underway expelling us from the wasteland.

Ceremony 1

3.30pm 15th June 2012
The corner of Riley and Albion St Wasteland, Surry Hills, Sydney 

Since the Wasteland site in Kuala Lumpur showed signs of development Obergfell agreed to initiate twinning proceedings with Saubin Yap in Kuala Lumpur:  a yellow raincoat was sent as a sign of friendship and yellow T-shirts worn in the Kuala Lumpur ‘Bersih 3.0?, a rally for free and fair elections were sent in return. By mid 2012 the Sydney wasteland had been taken over the developers building project and on June 15th at 3:30 p.m. EST the first twinning ceremony of Kuala Lumpur and Sydney took place through a simultaneous action and signing of the yellow raincoats worn by the twinning partners Obergfell and Yap.

Ceremony 3

12.00pm 22nd September 2012
Wasteland adjacent to Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, Moabit, Berlin

Re-staging the emblematic Yellow Raincoat Ritual devised by Lena Obergfell in collaboration with Funaki Latai Taumoepeau in Sydney, Australia and developed with Saubin Yap in Kuala Lumpur, Mayalsia, the two wasteland representatives instructed their audience clad in poncho style yellow raincoats sourced from the two cities. Participants were asked to perform a series of choreographed movements and received a yellow raincoat as a twinning document in exchange for 30 minutes of their time.

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Tanah Lapang, Kuala Lumpur

Saubin Yap – Rumah Air Panas Art Society

The Tanah Lapang site, owned by the City Council of Kuala Lumpur has undergone a series of developments over 2011 – 2012. Located behind a new commercial area the site has recently been cleared and levelled in order to provide temporary housing for workers constructing the neighbouring Plaza Crystal Ville business center. Previously a piece of swamp or low level reclaimed land adjacent to the now abandoned tin mining lake the site has become the research focus of Saubin Yap and the Rumah Air Panas Art Society (R.A.P) since August 2011.

Ceremony 1

1.30pm, 15th June 2012
The Tanah Lapang wasteland, Setapak, Kuala Lumpur.

Ceremony 2

3pm to 430 pm September 11th 2012.
The Tanah Lapang wasteland, Jalan Danu Saujana, Setapak, Kuala Lumpur.

The next two twinning ceremonies, which will take place in Kuala Lumpur and then Berlin, are currently being planned. A reverse post-colonial exoticism will be employed to create a ceremony of the urban savage, imported from and to Germany via Australia and Malaysia.  For this meeting of the Wasteland Twinning Ambassadors Saubin Yap and Lena Obergfell, the combined workforce of the two sites will collaborate to express their motto of ‘don’t play play’ (singlish for “don’t play a fool, this is serious stuff”)

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