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Salutorget-Zócalo-Mandi-Kauppatori-Marktplatz-Market Square

Photo: Christoffer Björklund, 2022.

Salutorget-Zócalo-Mandi-Kauppatori-Marktplatz-Market Square

A research project initiated by Lena Séraphin, carried out with Emma Cocker, Andrea Coyotzi Borja, Cordula Daus and Vidha Saumya, and installed in stairwell E/F at Academill, Rantakatu 2, Vaasa, during October 2022.

Salutorget-Zócalo-Mandi-Kauppatori-Marktplatz-Market Square is a sound installation in which Lena Séraphin continues her artistic work on collective writing together with the artists Emma Cocker, Andrea Coyotzi Borja, Cordula Daus and Vidha Saumya. It is a part of the Sharing Text project – Séraphin’s postdoctoral research at the Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies. It has been produced during Séraphin’s three years in the artist’s residency in Vaasa run by Pro Artibus Foundation in collaboration with Åbo Akademi University.

Collaborative writing has long been a part of Séraphin’s working processes, which take their inspiration from Georges Perec and his Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien from 1975 (An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris). The book is based on the way Perec describes a place starting from his own observations, systematically addressing small details and events that are often overlooked and which therefore remain excluded and untold. While Perec constructed his text beginning from visual observations, Séraphin has initiated a writing process starting with bodily senses. The collective is the very backbone of the working process, and she invites a selection of writers to delve deeper into a given public place over a period of a week. Together the participants develop various types of scores and methods for taking in and making notes in public space. These might, for example, be about the way the writers are placed, how they move, what they observe, or which sense they use.

During her residency period in Vaasa, Séraphin has held three collective collaborative-writing sessions. The focus has been on Vaasa’s Salutorget market square and the sound work is the result of the third session (30.5-4.6.2022). Salutorget-Zócalo-Mandi-Kauppatori-Marktplatz-Market Square differs from Séraphin’s previously published collaborative-writing in being a sound work. It is a three-channel audio installation based on acousmatic impressions from the Market Square, when the writers did not see, but heard, a sound source. Salutorget-Zócalo-Mandi-Kauppatori-Marktplatz-Market Square is onomatopoeic in nature, i.e. the text mimics the sounds from the square instead of describing them or trying to construct a narrative. The text has been written by Andrea Coyotzi Borja and is read out by the working group’s five collaborating artists, who come from disparate language cultures. The sound work’s relation to learning is tested together with students from the faculty and pupils from the Vasa Övningsskola in co-operation with Art Educator Johanna Halme.

Salutorget-Zócalo-Mandi-Kauppatori-Marktplatz-Market Square is an experiment in creating a virtual site that arises out of text – a “textorium”. It asks: What happens when text no longer communicates literal meanings? What happens when language reaches its limit? What tools do we turn to when we have no linguistic references or associations on which to base our intermediation? Where are we as listeners when we hear the voices reading out an interpretation of the sounds of the Market Square? What might at first come across as playful and random involves an inquiry into the possibilities and limitations of language.

Markus Åström

Lena Séraphin (b. 1962) does artistic research. Her practice is based on sensitive text/writing, and her postdoctoral project, Sharing Text, studies how text can be published site purposely and written collectively as collaborative writing. Séraphin holds an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and is primus doctor from Aalto University’s School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Her thesis Don Quijote-komplexet och laborationer i fiktionalitet (Don Quixote Complex and Investigations Into Fictionality) deals with writing/reading as a self-constituting practice and mutable identity. During the work on her thesis and in her postdoctoral studies at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Séraphin experimented with the construction of a fictive colleague to facilitate an artistic practice. Her aim is to show that the imaginary can be an affirmative, knowledge-creating environment. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Åbo Akademi University and the Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies. She is a co-founder of Language-based Artistic Research (SIG – Society for Artistic Research) and teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki.