In a staged catastrophe, Yingmei Duan makes herself and her dreams the focal point of her work. Lost in a wasteland of ten tons of garbage, she – as the Naked Woman – and the other characters: a pianist, a confused older man, a child and a devil in a tuxedo, are in a static condition. The audience steps down to these lonely persons and moves along narrow paths among the remnants of a civilisation. Broken pieces of music are heard from an untuned piano. Duan slowly waddles forward, seeking contact. Following her is the devil, staring at the audience. The boundaries between performer and audience are wiped out. Who is looking at who, and why?
Rubbish City was reproduced at the international performing arts festival In Transit at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin in June 2009.
Yingmei Duan (born in 1969 in Daqing, Heilongjiang Province in Northern China, lives and works in Braunschweig, Germany) has been mute for more than half her life. She was born with a cleft palate and could not speak until the age of 21. Art became her tool for communicating with the rest of a world, that largely had insisted on treating her as feeble-minded. In her performances, Duan uses herself, her history and her isolation. She constructs tragicomical scenarios where sexuality, through a not quite accepted female image, has a central place. She often challenges both herself and the audience, as in the piece Sleepwalker (2002), where she slowly moved across the room up to a person in the audience and, without any warning, slapped him.