What are you waiting for? (Che cosa aspetta?)
project by Alejandro Vásquez Salinas & Isabel Andreu Roglá

other residents participating:
Sarah Rifky, Pratul Kumar Dash, Çagil Yurdakul, t s Beall

project in collaboration with:
Centostazioni, San Paolo Station in Biella


In Spanish the concepts of both waiting and hoping are expressed by a single word: esperar. Isabel Andreu Roglà and Alejandro Vasquez interviewed people waiting at a station, recording their conversations and photographing them all. Then they transformed the station’s waiting room into a welcoming lounge, working on the furniture and hanging the photographs of the people they interviewed on the walls.
“Our aim was to reflect on the space of the railway station in terms of a place of waiting, which obviously means a place for waiting for a train, but at the same time it becomes part of our interior space, where people’s dreams, desires, thoughts and fears wait, silent and latent. The station is a waiting place par excellence and is a great place for observing certain aspects related to communication, human relations and territorial identity. These places are noisy, offer little stimulus for communication and are usually perceived as places of transit, impersonal and neutral, as if ‘non-places’.
The intent of the What are you waiting for? project is to transform the frequently mistrustful attitude people adopt when they find themselves at a railway station.
The idea concentrated on the waiting room space itself, cold, impersonal and uninviting, where nothing helps to stimulate communication between the people present.
At the outset we realised small photo sets that, by taking photos, allowed us to ask people questions about their personal desires and opinions about the other travellers. This gave us various portraits that we used later for the installation in the waiting room. We transformed the waiting room itself into a comfortable space full of human stories, where the people waiting could look at the portraits of the others on the walls and read the wishes and thoughts written along side. This motivated them to talk about their own.
A number of elderly people came every day, and a wonderful relationship developed as a result. The waiting room turned into a sort of lounge where people conversed and told their own particular stories.
One day we invited a group of women to the waiting room to knit. Knitting in a corner, with a radio playing, we began to tell stories. Spontaneously travellers, railway workers and some young people came to listen and once more the space was filled with memories, anecdotes and stories about life”.
(Isabel Andreu Roglà and Alejandro Vasquez)

Three Unidee artists: Pratul Dash (India), Cagil Yurdakul (Turkey) and Alejandro Vasquez (Colombia), have realized the painting of a landscape inspired by their countries of origin in order to use it as photographic background for the sets taken in the station.
The intention was to recreate in the entrance of the station the
illusion of a travel, to create desire, the dream of being in another place, in order then to ask the people: "Where would you like to be?”, "How do you imagine a painted place?”, "What does it mean for you to travel?”, "What would you tell about Biella?”, "What are you waiting for?”.
To form then a fictitious catalogue of memories exposed on the walls of the station.

3 samples of the 10 short stories written by Sarah Rifky at the Biella Train Station, Inside the Café.
One cold October afternoon...

A cheesy English rock song is playing. Opposite of my table to the left, a lady claps her hands at her friend. The two are immensed in conversation. I don't want to look at them too intently. There are rapid handmovements leaving invisible traces in the glass on the table.

A fly hops around a packet of Diana cigarettes. The table is right opposite mine. The man peering out a gigantic leather jacket adjusts himself in the upright caffeteria chair, flattening his newspaper against the cold glass of the table... A waitress unconveniently interrupts his engrossed moment of reading. When she leaves, he has lost his line and starts floating about the different sections of his paper, torn between reading the news and looking at the advertisments.

I accidentally catch a cute guy's gaze. He is standing to my left, leaning against the wall. Why doesn't he sit himself down. The table next to me is empty! He turn his back to me. Argh. PEDRO 96. What is that I wanter. He glances into a newspaper. I take another quick glance at him, and ha! This time he is sitting down. Two other young people are joining him. I don't particularly want to overhear their conversation, but he is speaking in an incredibly loud voice.

For further information or materials regarding this project write to unideeweb@cittadellarte.it