Let’s restage history – this was the aim of the project >re/en/action<. From the 12th to the 14th of June the German artist Janne Schäfer and members of the German-Bulgarian Friendship Association in Ruse gave it a try. She developed the concept of this kind of art performance and place-specific workshops together with Verena Ries.

We invited the citizens of Ruse to a discussion about the subjective perspectives of the public space and the different historical layers and meanings of the city area – what used to be a church once is now a memorial; a former factory hall is to be turned into a shopping mall. During the workshop the participants tried to answer the questions: How does city architecture originate? How is it transformed? How do people nowadays perceive the architectural heritage? What part did the city area play in their lives once and what now?

On the third day of the workshop the participants in the workshop became the actors and the streets – their stage. Together they chose a historical place on the central square. Until 1900 there was situated a big mosque from the time Ruse was a city of the Ottoman Empire, what later became the Square of Freedom used to be a muslim graveyard. The mosque and the graveyard disappeared and were replaced by a casino, which on its turn was replaced by a bus stop which turned into a lively traffic junction and a hotspot. Here were made the best hotdogs in town and in 1965 appeared the first vending machines in Bulgaria. In the 1970s the traffic was relocated outside the town square and the bus stop was no longer needed and was replaced by a fountain. The square is undergoing a major rebuild as of 2011 and is certainly going to change its appearance again.

In a rehearsed performance the participants in the workshop reenacted these historical moments and gave the citizens a chance to compare what they see with their personal memories. The audio-visual documentation from the workshops and from the enactment will be on display in Ruse in Canetti House as a part of the architectural exhibition The Bulgarian Model in September and October 2011.

The project is realized with the financial support of Goethe-Institute Bulgaria and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.