Kiitos viisaat paikalliset naiset

We had been together (the artists, Hanna, Pontus and I, and the hosts Taikabox and Julian) in Varjakka for a few days when the suggestion arose of working with a small local group. Taikabox have a growing relationship with some people from Oulu who do outdoor and creative activities together in order to tackle feelings of isolation and anxiety.

This was an opportunity for us to make some new proposals and to ‘deliver’, as we all three are used to doing. But in reality the arrival of the women to the island was a completely transformative experience. We shifted from being visitors to being truly in residence, within that afternoon. The group helped us to solidify so much of the research we’d done and suddenly collaborating felt organic and fundamental. Combining our individual pedagogical practices and brief knowledge of the place, and the women’s willingness to be present and playful, we each discovered a major shift in the relationship we had to that space and time.

In particular I found the person who expressed the most anxiety before we began, Riina, to be the most exuberant and perceptive collaborator. She filled our imaginations and the building (Konttori) with new propositions and stories; and told old ones too. She brought new life to the space as well as validating our work so far.

That workshop represented an important milestone in the journey we are on and it was quickly impossible to know the place without those personal expressions of embodied knowledge and the people through whose eyes we looked at that part of the world, momentarily; which left a profound impression.

We have been messaging with Riina since (see a screenshot below of her reflection on the workshop) and she has helped me to continue wrapping my head around a residency with a million layers, with her perceptive nature and generosity.

I got a deep contact to myself during time together on Varjakka island: Workshop and Illallinen Konttorilla – evening event.

It activated a side of me, creative side. And I felt strong joy of it.

Working together was like a start when the rocket is launched to its orbit on the sky.

I also felt deep connection and understanding to the three artists. And that also strenghtened discovering who I am. Continueing that journey.

Riina and I spoke about acknowledging that we are not without our differences; our social, spiritual, political, economic clashes are with us in the work. But I am passionate about difference and hope this project celebrates that.

Embodied knowledge shared, thresholds crossed, at the pub (me, Pontus, Hanna, Riina):
Constructive, collaborative performance-making seeped into social and public life and was informed by the history; by the people who know this place and the people who knew it and are grieved for here.

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