A performance by Maria Fjell and Theresa Kampmeier
At the Nordstan shopping mall in the inner city of Gothenburg, Sweden
After appointment, duration ca 30 minutes, in English
Gothenburg Cultural Guided Tours - A Report From The Nordstan Shopping Mall
Wearing our uniforms with formal name tags, showing one capital letter indicating the guide's first name cut off by a dot and preceded by a polite Miss: Miss M.Persson and Miss T.Kampmeier. We await the group by one of the side entrances of Nordstan, very close to its middle axis. Welcoming them, we make it very clear that the working environment of the place shall not be disturbed by our tour, and thus they are asked to pose questions later. We would like our visitors to behave as casually as possible. The group ponderously crosses the shopping centre. We stay silent until, disgorged on the other side, we are entering the customs office entrance into a hallway. Reaching the lower floor in small groups due to the size of the elevators, we wait downstairs for our visitors to arrive in the same kind of hallway as upstairs. In between two fire protection doors, we point out once more that it will be very important to be quiet now. Then the basement starts, a corridor, long, long, with identical doors to all sides, and in neon light there are young people emptying boxes into storages, they greet us amicably. Again, we traverse the centre, this time only across its long side.
Briefly, M.Persson informs the group on a documentary series broadcasted on Swedish TV in 2012 which showed people spending time at Nordstan without participating in the shopping. Then, we ask our group to line up in front of the door at the end of the corridor and peek through the keyhole behind which busy people are working, and where we of course would not like to disturb if we entered. When everybody has taken their turn in catching a glimpse, we enter a door on the side into a staircase all covered in marble stones, up, up, until we arrive in a glass-paned foyer. Pointing at the front desk lady behind the glass, T. Kampmeier explains that, just now, we passed all the backdoors of the stores.
We abandon the building for the outside. On the roof of the shopping centre, we find ourselves in an exact replica of the old road network below. One walks in between high office buildings through a park; we pass a metal gate onto the main axis, and from there we stroll towards the parking garage on the short backside of the shopping centre. Very slowly, the group takes its time to look around. Arriving in the vestibule of the parking garage, we indicate a small elevator by the side, open its doors in order to show it to the group, and point out how it is very special for two reasons. Firstly, this elevator only goes up (as it says on a brass plaque next to it). Secondly, the elevator stems from Nordstan's early years and thus is still covered in chocolate wrapping paper thought of as ornamental decoration, the aluminum nowadays not used on foods anymore, and its shining nicely. The group jumps at the chance to go in while we are holding the door, and slide their fingertips over the inner lining. M.Persson goes down the hallway and exits onto a slim passway along the parking deck's side to expect the participants once they are finished. From where she is waiting, one can look down into the backstreet where we met in the beginning, and the building on the opposite side of the street consists of open-plan offices into which we get perfect insight. M.Persson tells the storyline of a film premiering a year ago in this place. It was called 'Challenge Your Leader', as one can also read on a poster hanging across the street in big, cloud-shaped letters. Then she announces that next we will walk on the smallest pavement in Gothenburg, meaning that the participants are asked to walk carefully one after another. After crossing the parking lot, we take them up a coil for the cars on the inside slope. Through the fencing of the pavement participants can look all the way down into the bottom floor. Arriving on the top floor of the garage, standing in the middle of a deserted parking lot, we rest for a minute before M.Persson and T.Kampmeier exclaim Now, we are on top of the world and gaze up towards the sky while inhaling deeply. The group is left there after they got a chance to pose their questions, and the guided tour is over.