At the Interweaving Performance Cultures international research centre, as the name of the centre indicates, scholars within theatre and cultural studies work with new and emerging forms of interweaving performance cultures. In this way, my attempt to analyse the practice of interweaving within my work is a humble contribution to a vast landscape of artists and scholars already defining this approach in numerous ways. Erika Fischer-Lichte (2009) describes interweaving cultures as interweaving multiple modernities, as being ‘in-between’, where it is possible for participants to negotiate together what I describe as the shared story, a collective story. This process of interweaving performance cultures, as well as Paavolainen’s concept of interweaving and creating one’s own dramaturgy of the experience, is represented strongly in the messages from the participants (see the chapter ‘Collecting Stories’) left within the installations.

Building upon Ruins -



Joanna Magierecka

Paavolainen’s (2015) concept of interweaving as a dramaturgical strategy in many ways creates for me a connection between the field of theatre studies and working with contemporary art and installations. I have challenged my professional heritage, deriving from performance art and theatre, through this new media. In the context of my work, I hope that interweaving different and diverging fragments, creating a frame through which audience members can form their own personal performance dramaturgy and hence experience, will also create an understanding of others and their experience. In this lies the possibility for a shared story, a collective story, crossing borders, heritage, history, and personal experience.

The notions of understanding our lives as consisting of layers of the past, the present, and the future, of the history and stories attached to us as travellers in time, of our connection to the people we meet on our journey and to the places we visit, has always been present in my life and work. This complexity has been a compositional principle and philosophical foundation of my work on the installation series Ruins. Interweaving materials, stories, and metaphors, I strive to create a space for the audience to experience this as well, and through that hopefully connect to the stories on a personal level. 

In this exposition, I will investigate retrospectively the process of interweaving material, stories, and sound – interweaving metaphors – that has been the main body of the whole series. On the final page I have composed a visual and auditive expression of my research, interweaving parts of the different installations presented in the exposition.

 I considered and applied interweaving as a compositional principle as early as 2016, working with the sketches for the installation. In this way, the theoretical perspectives of Paavolainen’s thinking were present during early stages of production. His considerations address the field of theatre. Changing positions between understanding the theoretical concept of interweaving and applying it as a compositional technique in an artistic expression that did not resemble a performance made it viable to examine and research what possibilities lay in the interweaving itself, towards a concept of a collective, shared story. I wish not only for the reader to discover the process and my considerations – the retrospective analysis of the content – but also to share an expression with the reader. The final part of this essay presents an independent composition – an interweaving of all the materials collectively. Readers will also have the opportunity to create their own dramaturgy of the experience – their own interweaving.

My approach is simultaneously spaciotemporal and circular. I do not propose an answer to how the complexity of human life can be represented through this interweaving process, I merely hope to shed some light on and consider my experience, and through that produce a new experience, hermeneutically (Hannula, Souoranta, and Vadén 2005). Presenting three separate installations as examples of interweaving through specific materials and techniques, on the one hand, and looking at interweaving as a key principle of the whole series, on the other hand, creates the possibility to investigate how this approach expands throughout the process working with the series.

My theoretical and methodological approach is built upon my understanding of what artistic research is and where I position myself as both artist and researcher, in between practices. I work within the third space (a space in between) as a meeting point where I, the audience, and the artwork, through dialogue and interaction, develop new knowledge about specific parts of human interaction (Bresler 2006). I have chosen to position my field of study between art and research. This provides a starting point that allows the use of art as a research method equated with other academic disciplines (Nagel and Hovik 2016). This position, or the place in between, is characterised by Hannula, Suoranta, and Vadén (2005) as experientiality, that is, a research position where artistic experience and production of knowledge can relate critically to scientific theoretical considerations, and vice versa. ‘Artistic experience and scientific theorisation interact with one another, guide one another and influence one another, and how this creates critically reflective research’ (Hannula, Souoranta, and Vadén 2005: 58).

Facts in a work of art become a metaphor, through the process of remediating. In this way, a metaphor can be seen as a phenomenon. When we grasp a metaphor in an artwork with our body and mind, we acquire new knowledge, ‘Art is essentially in the business of examining metaphors and creating new ones, not only using them but also inventing them’ (Parsons 2007: 539). The metaphor of ‘ruins’ in my work is intended to have a positive connotation; hopefully the exposition will in this way also contribute to the reinvention of the understanding of what a metaphor of a ruin is in the context of an artwork. In the next chapter, I wish briefly to present the installation series and the metaphor of ruins. The following chapters will investigate the way I use interweaving as a compositional technique in the three installations mentioned above. Finally, I wish to dwell upon the viability of the series as a coherent work, also through artistic expression.

Navigating this exposition you may follow the chronology through the pages, pressing “next chapter” at the bottom of each page. You may as well choose a different order all together, using the main menu listed under “contents”. On each page I will suggest that you hover over different words and sentences, as they have hidden content. The way to hide again this content is to click on the main exposition itself. Some of the hidden content is time-based.

Imagine dramaturgy not on the model of the assembly line but rather as an assembly of lines – of divergent actions and materials that bring forth a meaningful event in their very interweaving, rather than any one of them being prioritized as an overriding sign vehicle for carrying forward a message. (Paavolainen 2015: 12)

Artistic experience and scientific theorization interact with one another, guide one another and influence one another, and how  this creates critically  reflective research. (Hannula, Souoranta and Vadén, 2005: 58)