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Space and the City

Spaces in our city are labelled with names that we use almost naturally – metaphors, personifications or just
symbolic phrases that stand for a space in our city. We are interested in these phrases and their contexts:
Diverse people use diverse notations – who uses which names?
Diverse people spot diverse labels for a space – how is an identity of a space formed?
These are the key questions that we are trying to investigate with this project. We will invite experts and
individuals to gain answers and stories that open a new and more conscious view of our public spaces. We
will investigate the histories, word uses and cultures of our city.
Our focus is the oral and written language that we use to describe the spaces we live, skate, sing, shop, or do
secret things in.
The project will take place across four spaces in our city over a period of four weeks.

Hub

The hub will be in constant change over the four weeks. Live documentation, archiving and exhibited
documentation will be a continuously presented in the hub.

Local people

Our research team will work with social workers, Elder Housing groups and secondary schools to reach a
spectrum of all age groups that identify with certain spaces in the city. The team will organise a letter
exchange between these different age groups and designate the focus of the letters, namely, your favourite
space in the city; let your pen pal know why it is important to you. This letter exchange will continue over a
period of six month and end six month before the project commences. These texts will be presented in
certain artistically responses in the spaces that we choose for this project.

Artists

We will invite four performance artists to work with these texts in the space of their choice. Their works will
be responsive and they will choose their own time scale and framework for the two weeks. In a small gallery
shop that we will organise as our hub, the documentation of the work will be shown in a form chosen by the
artists. The letters will also be available in the hub in a curated form upon the hub consultation with the pen
pals.

Panels

We have invited three experts that will record a discussion via podcasts every Friday and Wednesday
evening during the four weeks. The panels can be visited live in an intimate kitchen atmosphere in the hub
and will also be streamed on the Internet afterwards. The experts are a city planner, a socio-linguist and a
historian that has specialized in oral history. Every week, these experts will discuss one of the spaces of the
project and the developments of the performances and responses in that space.
Internet-Platform

We will work with a myspace page as a platform for open discussions and uploads of the podcasts. We hope
to create a lively exchange on this level of communication.

Timeframe

Preparation: 6 months
Letter exchange program: 6 months
Time between letter exchange and performances: 6 months
Event: 4 weeks
Evaluation: 2 months
Still of the video work ‘I know who I am’ by Helga Björg Gylfadóttir

‘I wrote this text surrounding the work ...this text wasn’t though when I exhibited it. In the video a voice of a
man was saying “I know who I am” I took it from the movie Angel Heart I cut when Mickey Rourke says I
know who I am through the movie. I cut it and put it together and then when the picture of the girl with the
ear comes the song “Girl of my dreams I love you” was heard coming from vinyl record by the Casa Loma
Orchestra. But what made them doubt the truth of that reality was the phrase “I know who I am” which
constantly reverberated through their waking consciousness. The repetition of the phrase brought them
further from knowing their actual selves, and distinguish between what was true and what was false. The
continuous repetition of the words “I know who I am” locked them within the obsession of the mind,
paralysing them with its dominating power.’
Helga Björg Gylfadóttir (2004)

Author

Anne-Katrin Luther
a.luther@ymail.com
www.myspace.com/a_handbook

Editors

Sara Erskine
Sarah Hart

Mind-Map Software

FreeMind 0.8.1
Credit: © Helga Björg Gylfadóttir (2004)
Stills of the video work ‘I know who I am’ by Helga Björg Gylfadóttir