Project Description

Helgard Haug – WE COULD

You were born as part of a nation. An inevitable procedure.
This nation celebrates itself – once a year.

1. Recall pictures of that celebration.

2. Stand on one foot and think of what else could be done that day.
How could your nation celebrate itself?

3. Invent a ritual!

Here are my suggestions.
We could: shake hands with every person we meet that day, introduce ourselves and exchange a few kind words.

Take all pictures from the walls and put them up at other spots for the coming time.

Take all curtains down to reveal the view of what is going on in the apartments for one day and one night.

Sink a ring into the dough of a cake. The person who finds the ring in the baked piece later, will get a wish fulfilled.

We all could:
Just keep turning right for one day.
Or only turn left for one day.

For one day just walk straight ahead and then backwards.

Backwards is good in general:
Say “Hello” backwards.
Saying “goodbye” backwards.
Sing the national anthem – if nothing forward – then perhaps backwards.

We could:
smash china – all the old stuff.
Tie wreaths of flowers in our hair.
And kiss under mistletoe.
Chasing fireflies.

Drink and throw the glass against the wall behind us.
Dig up a compost heap.
Fill up.

Look into the eyes of all the people you meet until the first one blinks.

Throw a smoke granade.
Cut off the old pigtails.
Plant a tree.

Liquefy a piece of lead on a spoon, then pour it into cold water to derive something for the future from the solidified figure.

Pull the other one’s leg.

Plant another tree.

Or cut down a tree, carry it to the best room, decorate it and put presents under it.

Clean every window in the house.
Open windows and hit pots and pans with wooden spoons.
Chase a bull through the village.

We could provoke nausea.
Dress in traditional costumes and dance folk dances.

Dip the head under water.
Send a message in a bottle.
Wash dirty laundry.

We could use all the services of the state for one day for free.
Or amnesty for prisoners.

Welcome all ‘newcomers’ in a festive manner.

We could throw paint powder.

Dress up or wear all the clothes inside out or reverse the order so that the underpants are at the top for that day.

How about celebrating a day of silence:
not a single word will be spoken that day.

Officials’ ties could be cut off.
Eggs could be painted and hidden.

We  could lift doors off their hinges, jack them up and use them as festive tables.

We could put our shoes in front of the door and fill them with treats.
Bring salt, bread and a coin to the neighbours.

One could savour the dull feeling.
Get shaky knees.
Cry heartbreakingly.

One could also read the Constitution – together in public or at the window of all houses.

How about closing all highways for one day. Cars are not allowed to use them. Everything else is possible.

And if not, then have a car-free day in all cities.

We could: eat ice cream all day long.

Wondering how it could have been different.
Wondering how it should have been different.

The country could go offline for a day and a night. The last textmessage via phone comes from the government: “Dear All, Happy National Day”, then the internet is switched off for 24 hours.

We could take it up a notch.

Start a fire.
Open one’s trap.

Writing a letter to complete strangers.
Go swimming.

Celebrating Mother Nature
Shit on Fatherland.

Weep together and collect the tears to let them dry for the duration of the coming year.

Risk your neck or steal a horse.

Lose oneself.
Love someone.

Slaughter a pig.
Bamboozle someone.

The national day could be a day for swapping day and night:
start the lawn mower at midnight, extend a pass at 23h, wait at doctor’s at 22h, leave the club at 15h …

All could put on masks – whichever: animal masks or grimaces – or rubber masks of politicians.

All: strip to the buff.
Or make yourself useful.

How about fasting – just not eating for one day.
Or to eat only food in the national colors.

Start an experiment: read the thoughts of another person, write them on a piece of paper and pass it on to a third person.

Adorn yourself with borrowed plumes.
Find excuses for everything and everyone.

Show the red card to each other.
Show the yellow card to each other.

Switch off all traffic lights and rely on self-regulation.

Follow in another person’s footsteps for a whole day.

Hold your breath – as long as you can – again and again.
Just whisper all day and end it with a scream.
Take a deep breath. Really deep.

Bite into a sour apple.

Save someone else’s ass.
Or refill spices and think about the future.

Sing a canon – without a conductor.

We could risk a day without consumption – all – really all the shops are closed.

It could be a day when all the elevators get stuck. A community forms in a few square meters.

How about:

Taking  a knife between your teeth
Dusting, and I mean everywhere.
Have one over the eight.
Turning a blind eye.

Or go donate blood until you get dizzy.

Or lie on your back and read in the clouds

Let fear grow.
Ask a stranger for directions.

Call the love of your life and hear what has happened.

Begin to wonder

It could be a day for weighing your words.
For washing your mouth out with soap
For attacking and taking in.

Cross the bridges before you come to them.
Get cold feet.
Keep your pecker up.

Cause a problem
Put others in fear

Celebrate a day when you let five be straight –
Be on the wrong track.

Do what you can’t possibly avoid.

Kick against a streetlamp
Ans against another one
Until the whole street is dark and you step into dog’s shit.

Lose your head
Make a shoulder glance to trick the blind spot.
A toast to trust.

Saying “shit” out loud
Quiet: I don’t know.

Feel shame. Blushing – in public. All together on the central square.

Develop the feeling that there is no turning back.
To wonder: who are you?
To wonder: who am I?
Wondering what am I if I have no limit?
To wonder: who am I if everything is different?

Try to find an answer to the question: how do we want to be?

Make a circular motion with your finger on the rim of a half-filled glass: produce a sound.

Disappear somewhere untraceable for a day.

Raise flags – Burn flags.
Write down a word for each letter of the alphabet, that you associate with your nation.
Self-deny yourself
Would this be a good day to father a child?
To conceive a child?
To bear a child?

Cross your fingers and tap on wood.

Listen to another person’s heartbeat.
Gently cover a sleeping person.

Grasp everything
Cross a border.
Get beaten to a pulp.

Become music
Call the fight
Preach the truth
We could have been waiting for this moment

To shake hands with everyone, whether known or unknown, and accept that shaking hands unites only a small part of humanity.

The national day could also be celebrated with a big orgy: national group sex?

Kneel down: theatrical, uninhibited,
And don’t come up again – just keep kneeling until -? no idea until when.

Stand up for something
Bring the truth to light
Raise your arms.

Raise your voice
Talk back

To wonder why history threatens to repeat itself.
Going off the deep end.

Close an account and bury the money under a tree
Give up your citizenship
Burn a passport.

We could develop a persistence.

Helgard Haug
Berlin (Germany)
16 June 2020

Commissioned by
Goethe Institut / Federal Foreign Office of Germany, PACT Zollverein and KANAL – Centre Pompidou Brussels.