Artists Names: finnfemfel: Albert Braun, Marcus Lerviks, Oskar Lindström / Gast: Mika Hannula
The announcement “Zurückbleiben!” (Stay back!) is irritating. Especially for foreigner visiting Berlin, it is incomprehensible and therefore catchy. For native speakers, the word “zurückbleiben” has a clearly negative connotation – you stay behind, others go, or you’re left behind, can not keep up, you’re superfluous, retarded?
It is very strange that you are ordered to such a passive activity, earlier live and very harsh by a supervisor, today by a neutral and sexy-sounding defused recording and with the addition “Please”.
By their own statement, the S-bahn in Berlin try to prevent the commuters “increasing willingness to take risks” at any price “to catch already departing trains.” The red flashing lights over the doors and the famous S-bahn sound-triad alone are surely not enough. Perhaps it’s not all about the facts, not about getting involved, not about the closing doors, but about being left behind as an action, an approach, a feeling?
This announcement give you many things to contemplate about. About social Darwinism, the failure of the big city (or the big city itself), Prussian obedience, global and local, transport conditions… The organized chaos in this announcement is part of the Berlin feeling, it provides the vital space for ambivalences that threatens to become smaller and smaller through the destructive chaos of political populism.
In Hamburg, the announcement was abolished in 2014, Berlin keeps them.
Probably because it is as ambiguous as the city itself. (A free translation of Maja Rohwetters text for Axel Obiger)