The Dating Project: What is Love? (2022)
The Dating Project: What is Love? is a live episodic game, in which participants roleplay situations scripted from the narratives of everyday life, simply by following a series of video and written instructions on their smartphones. Open to all, it is an attempt to bring total strangers together in situations of joy, play, intimacy and togetherness in the spaces that they collectively inhabit, prompting them to playfully subvert rules and power structures at work in the everyday life of these places. In staging these encounters, which blur the line between fiction and reality through the means of roleplay, the project wishes to subtly offer a space for empathy and understanding within a universe of play. “We are the stories we tell ourselves” – Shekhar Kapur
In the context of EUROPALIA TRAINS & TRACKS, two new episodes will be created, at Brussels Central Train Station and at Antwerp Central Station. The Dating Project: What is Love?takes its inspiration from the everyday life of the train station, and the thousands of chance encounters that happen between people of all walks of life who meet in this transitory, porous space on a daily basis. In attempting to map the multiple narratives at play here, users of the train stations were invited to share their stories and anecdotes about everyday life in the station from their own perspective, and to suggest things that they would like to see happen more often, habits they would like to see take hold.
With a particular focus on archiving acts of kindness, care and joy that arose from these sharings, The Dating Project: What is Love? will invite participants to recreate some of these stories, stepping into the shoes of the storytellers as they do so, viewing the everyday through the eyes of the other and reliving their experiences. How could life in the train station change through the slow but steady repetition and accumulation of these acts? Whose perspective is it necessary to involve in order for habits to change? How could the train station as a collective space be changed by challenging the dominant behavioural patterns inside it? When does one person’s joy tip into another person’s pain?
In tackling these questions head on, The Dating Project: What is Love? creates a space of play where the dominant narratives of the train station are temporarily suspended and other possibilities for interacting, behaving and being together can potentially emerge.