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Naked in the train: artist shocks Europe

A Berlin-based performance artist is raising eyebrows in European capitals with a risque drive to expose the role of advertising in every day life - by pulling his trousers down in public.

Naked in the train: artist shocks Europe
Photo: Mischa Badasyan

Standing in a crowded U-bahn, trousers around your ankles, with just an iPad shielding your privates from the gaze of curious strangers might not be everyone’s idea of art, but for one Berlin-based performance artist, it’s all in a day’s work.

With his provocative ‘live advertising’ stunt, Mischa Badasyan says he is breaking boundaries – and sometimes local laws – to get people thinking about the prevalence of advertising in public spaces.

Armed only with a blank-screened iPad and a t-shirt declaring “Your advert here” in various languages and an arrow pointing to his genitals, Badasyan is touring European capitals as a ‘walking billboard’ to see how locals react.

But the artist was disappointed to find that few onlookers have so far taken up his offer to use him as a living, breathing poster boy.

“I was surprised to get negative reactions or aggressive feedback,” Badasyan, 25, told The Local. “Some people shouted at me in Berlin, they didn’t like my idea at all.”

The Armenian-born artist, who came to Dresden as a student in 2008, said he wants to “break stereotyped thinking” and challenge social norms with his art. He aims to take his ‘ADbuster’ pants-down project to every European capital.

So far he has hit landmarks and public transport in Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Bratislava, Sofia, Bucharest and Rome – at times with explosive results.

RELATED PHOTO GALLERY: Naked in the train – Badasyan gets mixed reaction from Europeans

“In Italy two guys blamed me for disturbing and reckless behaviour towards children. One guy screamed at me and violently pulled up my trousers,” Badasyan told The Local.

“In France I got in trouble with the security guards at the Pompidou Centre, they tried to call the police but I ran away.”

Badasyan feels the influence of advertising – particularly what he sees as manipulative sexualised adverts – on modern life is often ignored.

“Every step of your life in modern society is influenced by advertisement,” the artist writes on his website. “Each commercial advertisement can be viewed as an invasion of privacy.”

But many who spotted the trouser-less Badasyan in a public place did not immediately catch the point of his message.

“Mostly people asked me why I was doing it and what on earth the iPad was doing there,” he said. “Some people found it funny.”

“Some supported my idea that we have to rethink … billboards with sexual ads in the city,” he added. “Just a small number of people absolutely supported me and liked my campaign.”

Yet in the end, Badasyan said it did not matter what people thought, as long as his work provoked a reaction.

“I always have a message but my performances are open [to interpretation],” he said. “People should have their own idea about what they see in my works.”

Josie Le Blond

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CULTURE

Where to celebrate Diwali 2022 in Germany

The holiday of Diwali kicks off on Monday. Here's where you can celebrate all around Germany.

Where to celebrate Diwali 2022 in Germany

With over 100,000 Indians in Germany, and over 175,000 people of Indian descent, it’s little wonder that Diwali – the famous five day Hindi festival of lights starting this year on Monday October 24th – is being celebrated all around the Bundesrepublik

READ ALSO: Indians in Germany: Who are they and where do they live?

Even the House of Parliament in Frankfurt is honouring the holiday for the first time with a special reception on October 30th.

Diwali takes its name from the clay lamps or deepa (the event is sometimes called Deepawali) that many Indians light outside their home. With the days shortening in Germany, there’s all the more reason to celebrate light — especially over lively music, traditional dance and authentically spicy Indian cuisine.

We have rounded up some of the top events to celebrate around Germany, both the week of Diwali and afterwards, stretching into mid-November. If you have an additional event to suggest, email us at [email protected]

October 24th in Heidelberg

Happen to be in Heidelberg? Then it’s not too late to head to the Sweet Home Project, which will be cooking up a storm starting at 6:30pm. The menu includes an assortment of Indian sweets and savoury dishes. The collective only asks that participants bring along a candle (and a hearty appetite).

If you miss this event, and are still craving some (really) spicy traditional cuisine, the Firebowl Heidelberg is hosting a Diwali party on October 29th, replete with lots of food and drink and Bollywood beats the whole night. 

October 29th near Frankfurt

For those who fancy a Feier with a full-buffet, this celebration in Dreieich delivers through an all-you-can-eat dinner with traditional fare. Starting at 5pm and stretching into the early hours of the morning, the festive feast includes traditional Bollywood music by Derrick Linco. There’s also a dance party for kids, who receive free admission up to seven years old and €25 up to 14 years. Normal tickets go for €40 per person.

A previous Diwali celebration of traditional dance and music in Dresden. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Sebastian Kahnert

November 4th near Düsseldorf

On November 4th at 6pm, the Deutsch-Indische Gesellschaft Düsseldorf will be hosting a family-friendly party in nearby Ratingen with classical Indian music and dance, a huge dinner and Bollywood music led by DJ SA-ONE. Tickets cost about €40 each, but children under six receive free entry. 

November 5th in Bonn 

The Indian Students Association of Bonn-Cologne will be hosting its biggest event of the year: for €10, event goers can try an array of Indian food, play classic games and tune into cultural performances. 

READ ALSO: Moving from India to Munich changed my life

November 12th in Essen 

Whether you like traditional bhajans or meditative ragas, this concert will capture many of the classic sounds of Indian music with artists such as Anubhab Tabla Ensemble, Debasish Bhattacharjee and Somnath Karmorak taking center stage. The performance starts at 5pm and costs €10. 

November 12th and 13th in Berlin

Indian food fans will get to enjoy 12 stands devoted to Indian cuisine and products, all coming from the local Indian community. The weekend-long festival will also include stand-up comedy from the Desi Vibes Comedy Group. Karaoke fans will also enjoy singing along with the Sounds of India group, followed by an after party on Saturday. All this only costs €2 at the door. 

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