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Textorium is an experiment in collective writing in/on/with public space initiated by Lena Séraphin, with artist-writers Emma Cocker, Andrea Coyotzi Borja, Cordula Daus and Vidha Saumya. Between 30 May – 4 June 2022, this group of artist-writers met in Vasa, Finland, coming together over a period of days to write in/on/from the Market Square. This exposition gathers scores, documents and artefacts generated through a specific time-bound process of collective writing in this singular public space.

 

Inspired by the writings of Georges Perec and his book An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris that acknowledges overlooked phenomena in a Parisian square in 1974, the project Textorium attends to Vasa’s Market Square as an ever-changing phenomenon, writing and rewriting it through the lens of different prompts and scores. In one sense, the project explores ways for intervening in, disrupting or unsettling the homogeneity of civic consumerism and the commercialisation of urban common space, through the gentle act of focused attention and through languaging the space otherwise.

 

This collaborative project conceives writing, reading and listening as aesthetic research practices, caring for their inter-subjective potential, whilst asking how shared spaces are constructed in/by/with text. Textorium invites a multitude of intertwining writerly perspectives through observational writing underpinned by bodily awareness, perception and sensations. The performativity of this practice redefines the solitary act of writing, introducing collective live-writing in public space as an artistic-literary genre.

 

For phenomenologist, Max van Manen, the term textorium refers to a “virtual space that the words open up […] The physical space of reading or writing allows me to pass through it into the world opened up by the words, the space of the text”. Struck by his account of the textorium and the ‘virtual space’ that opens for the writer-reader, we wondered how our experimental practices might generate insights into the experiential textorium of collective writing? What worlds become “opened up by the words”, by “the space of the text”? What other ways for perceiving and reimagining public space emerge in and through language? In turn, how does writing in a public space shape and inform the emergent possibilities of language, alongside the felt sense of subjectivity for both writers and readers?