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WRITING IN PUBLIC SPACE

The second in a series of language-based artistic research projects (in conjunction with the activities of the Special Interest Group) took place in Vaasa, Finland 13 - 19 September 2020. 

 

 

In September 2020 a group of six writers came together to write on the market square Kauppatori in Vaasa, Finland. The aim is to investigate collaborative writing in public space as a method and to try out different writing assignments – especially with a focus on the implications of writing in public space. Each participant proposes a writing assignment, which is tested by writing together on the site. The next step is to read the texts and to redefine the writing assignment, and then consequently retry and reassess it. The different assignments bring attention to distinct features of the site/text and give momentum to the practice of writing. An assignment could focus on writing from the viewpoint of the body and pay attention to who crosses the square, in what way and for how long or focus on commercial or informative texts that are on display in and around the square. Another way to observe the square is to parallel its visual surveillance and write about that what footage monitoring cannot grasp. 



This week of collaborative writing is an attempt to focus on skills that traverse the normative borders of writing, encouraging the group to explore writing as integrated, intersectional, active and embodied. What qualities does collective writing prompt? Is it possible to install narratives for compassionate social co-existence in public space by a writing experiment? What does corporeal writing signal and how is it read? What does writing collectively discern, differentiate and announce? How is collaborative writing an affirmative gesture? What if our own experiences of being private citizens in public space betray any clean distinction between public and private, personal and political? What does the experience of being an observed body teach us about the act of observation, the mechanisms of the gaze and the politics of noticing?

 

The setting for this collaborative work is an understanding of knowledge as something limited and maybe insufficient, and that in addition to creating knowledges we also need to develop, learn and practice skills of sharing. 



Wording is inspired by the French writer Georges Perec and his experimental book Tentative d'épuisement d'un lieu parisien, or An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris. Perec observed Place Saint-Sulpice in October 1974. His idea was to pay attention to the seemingly insignificant, and to notice what is taking place when nothing special is happening. Perec noted down the date, time of day, place and weather, and then went on to write a list of what was happening within his field of vision. He returned on three successive days, and was himself gradually transformed into one of the recurrent figures in the square. His writing, in turn, successively altered what he was observing; the square became a text and a written rendition of a public space. 



Collaborative Writing in Public Space is conceived and organised by Lena Séraphin, and funded by the Pro Artibus Foundation. Collaborative writing on Vasa Market Square is a collaboration between Pro Artibus Foundation, the Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies at Åbo Akademi University, campus Vaasa and the artist-run initiative Platform ry. 

 

 

The market square Salutorget (Kauppatori) in Vaasa 10/6/2020, video: 12 sec.

Participants of Collaborative Writing in Public Space 2020:


Artist Geir Byrkjeland, Audience Development at Kvarken Archipelago - World Heritage

Architect Johan Bäckman, Platform - artist run initiative

Visual artist Marika Orenius, DoA, Lecturer of Art Pedagogy, Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts Helsinki

Artist-poet Vidha Saumya working on paper, pulp, words, books: recipes for counterculture rebellion

Artist Lena Séraphin, DoA, Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University, campus Vasa & Artist in Residence, Pro Artibus Foundation

Language Arts Teacher-Researcher Mindy Svenlin, Doctoral Student in Education, Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University, campus Vasa

 

 

Account of the event focusing on what takes place when a group of writers write together in a public space by Maiju Loukola, DoA, University researcher, Department of Film, Tv and Scenography, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture


Photo-documentation of the process by Johanna Halme, Art Educator, Pro Artibus Foundation in Vasa.


Video-documentation of the performative talk at the Ostrobothnian Museum 17/9/2020 by artist/film-maker Maria Ångerman.


Due to covid-19 and the travel restrictions from 24/8/2020 onwards four of the writers will join the project in a forthcoming event:

Writer-performance artist Season Butler

Writer-artist Emma Cocker, Associate Professor in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University

Writer-artist Cordula Daus, PhD candidate in Artistic Research, University for Applied Arts, Vienna

Ria Heilä-Ylikallio, Ed. Dr., Professor in Swedish Literature and Education, Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University



Documents and reflections from Collaborative Writing in Public Space will be gathered in this page in the Winter 2020.

 

 

 


The third in a series of language-based artistic research projects (in conjunction with the activitíes of the Special Interest Group) will take place in Vaasa, Finland 2-8 August 2021.


Participants of Collaborative Writing in Public Space 2021:

Writer-performance artist Season Butler

Writer-artist Emma Cocker, Associate Professor in Fine Art, Nottingham Trent University

Writer-artist Cordula Daus, PhD candidate in Artistic Research, University for Applied Arts, Vienna

Artist-poet Vidha Saumya working on paper, pulp, words, books: recipes for counterculture rebellion

Artist Lena Séraphin, DoA, Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University, campus Vasa & Artist in Residence, Pro Artibus Foundation