In participatory performance The Guide, the audience takes part in a guided tour through the many narrow stairwells of Huis Marseille, while carrying an object with them from floor to floor. Alban Karsten appointed himself as their guide, proclaiming his personal belief that the best way to deeply get to know an architecture is by carrying objects through it.
This object, a transport crate with handles resembling a sedan chair, has been baptized “The Problem”. This is a semi-abstract object; it is unclear from which side to approach the problem. Although it has handles, it does not lift very comfortably, and it barely fits through the stairwells, so gradually the entire audience feels involved in moving the object down the museum’s stairs. At each floor, the group stops and The Guide tells about a personal problem, the times he got stuck. The growing involvement of the audience causes them to start sharing their personal problems as well. Thus, the object slowly becomes a representation of everyone’s problems and the tour begins to have more and more noticeable meaning for the participants. Consequently, the return to the starting point is euphoric.
The Guide is an investigation into different carrying modes of an audience. It uses strategies borrowed from (self-)help television shows – sharing an intimate and complex problem with an audience as a form of ultimate liberation; and projecting this complex problem onto an object that needs to be taken care of. All participants’ added stories charge the object, and create the feeling of a common objective.