A Walking History
research project The Poetics of Space examines a rundown park in a
suburb south of Stockholm. We are five artists, each with her/his
individual projects, The Poetics of Space and is funded by the
Research Foundation FORMAS and is located at the Swedish Museum of
Architecture Museum in Stockholm.
In my sub project A Walking History; I use walking, writing, photography, video and installation art as methods to create an understanding of a place. The aim is to understand the site by an artistic empathic process.
In my presentation I will discuss such questions as: What does walking in an urban space mean for the experience of architecture? How are personal experiences constituted through walking and artistic actions in a public place? How do we construct a subjective self through artistic manifestations? An artistically designed subject is a central pillar of my investigation.
My regular walks, discussions and artistic works in Fittja have caused me to experience myself immersed in the place. My visits create different perceptions of my self related to the place. It is as if the place right now is more familiar to me than the neighbourhood where I have lived for thirty years. I do not claim that my understanding is superior to anyone else's but it is a personal image, one perspective of many. With a subjective understanding a certain dialogue is built, a dialogue with the past, the present and the future.
I walk around spontaneously in the area, take photographs, film, talk and write. The reason why I not chose to organize the visits as repetitions of certain patterns is my desire to open up for a personal perspective, inspired by Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin's analyse of the flaneur. The flaneur is a person in Baudelaire's world wandering around in the urban space without a proper connection to the phenomena that surround him. It is a modern position, a detached participation in a globalized society.
Benjamin was a Marxist theoretician and with the flaneur he attempted to describe how the modernist project alters the relationship between humans and their habitat.
The flaneur´s "uninteresting" walking in the urban environment leads us to reflect and experience the paths that others also have taken before us. It is the equivalent experiential approach; no experience is better than anyone else's.
Scientific research has an implicit and dogmatic claim to a standstill "now" that can be determined and re-created. My research is relying on the flux of time and the variability of interpretations. The unstructured forms of walking, however, must be understood and visualized in a way that creates opportunities rather than establishes facts. The stories, photographs and films will be processed artistically during the project and will be featured in an exhibition at the Swedish Museum of Architecture in Stockholm. The artistic presentation in the form of an exhibit is essential to convey the meaning of the process and its results.
Here it is important to stress that art in public spaces always contains various claims of power. It is a central part of my work to explore how different artistic activities relate to this fact.
Roland Ljungberg Artist, Researcher Ph.D. at the Swedish Museum of Architecture and lecturer at the University College of Arts, Craft and Design.