nbvn The guardian of the unwritten rule

One hour performance, on busroute 1 in Umeå.



We were asked to observe a situation or a place in the public space and somehow change it, I chose to ride the bus route 1 in Umeå. At first it felt quite positive; lot of new people to look at and in the meantime I sent sms to my friends and acquaintances and asked them to share their experiences of traveling by bus. Eventually I noticed a pattern which people tended to follow.

Nobody sat next to someone else if there was room anywhere else, no one seemed interested in contact of any kind, mostly shielded off somehow. All these behaviors are quite normal, you want to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.

What I did was to appoint myself to the guardian of the unwritten laws and guard the behaviors I had observed earlier. I made a list of the rules I thought people followed; Do not sit next to someone you do not know, do not talk to each other on the bus, sit properly in your seat, do not relax to much, do not talk on the phone, and don´t have to much fun.

I asked the people who sat next to each other if they knew each other, if they didn´t I showed them to an empty place, if people sat and talked I asked them to be quiet, if they were to comfortable, I asked them to sit properly.

What I expected was somekind of response even an angry one and that people would demand explanation of what the hell I was doing, which would hopefully lead to a discussion of why we all behave in a certain way in a situation like riding the bus. But instead they obeyed me and did exactly as I said. I felt like a fascist during the ride.

The bus driver yelled out in the speakers that people could talk to each other on the bus and that was probably the most positive, she also questioned what I was doing and thought that till next time I should warn well in advance so that the passenger should be prepared...