The Anti Contemporary Arts Festival invited The Walking Neighbourhood to be part of their festival for 2014. “Children and teenagers… (where) the focus of this year’s …Festival, which presents site- and time-specific works made for public space.” Alongside the artistic program the festival also presented a seminar allowing for discussion around the theme – “Children operating in the field of contemporary art – subjects or objects?”
Our Brisbane based artists Sue Loveday and Verena Curr headed to Finland to facilitate an immersive two week residency in the centre of Kuopio. The residency included a series of workshops with young people aged 12-17 from a community theatre group at the local youth centre.
Audiences where invited to the foyer of the Youth Centre for the festival weekend which was transformed into an installation for the event, known as our departure lounge. Here audience members were invited to select two walks of twenty minutes each. The lounge also included posters from all The Walking Neighbourhood’s presented in Australia and abroad, a large interactive map of inner Kuopio, slide show of images from previous projects and this process, there was also a found object gallery displaying objects found out on the walks. A feedback booth asking audience members and participants to share their experiences of the walks on video along with an opportunity for audience members to share their ideas of their dream neighbourhood.
The unique beauty of this particular version of the project was the opportunity to interact with the natural environments close to the centre of Kuopio. The young participants were generally very interested in the natural environment, local sculptural works and architecture and this inspired their walks greatly.
Each version of this project allows for new meanings and possibilities to emerge in response to the cultural climate in which it is created. For Kuopio, this work focused on supporting the young participants giving them the opportunity to express themselves in ways that they chose, encouraging freedom, confidence and responsibility to engage with people in new ways. For adult audiences this is a fascinating way to see and experience places, spaces and buildings as the young people are in control of developing their own curated walks, guiding the audience, navigating the physical space and sharing their experiences and ideas such as…
- A conversation /
an idea / a written text / a physical act / a game /
a historical story / an outdoor exhibition /
a creative exchange /
a happening…all in public space.
- Picture Forest Walk- With little conversation the audience are lead to a hidden path in the nearby forest where they discover a outdoor exhibition of photographs exhibited just for them. The images pegged up between the trees on twine and pinned to trees examine the reflection of natural and artificial light in the Kuopio streets.
- History Walk- This walk explores Finnish war history through local architecture and a passionate teenage perspective.
- Hanging Out Walk- Audiences were taken to the places in town that their teenage guide likes to hang out with friends and are invited to share what they like to do when they hang out with theirs by writing with chalk on the footpath.
- Random Branch Walk- With a new sculpture in town “Branch Boy” attracting a lot of attention from locals, buy two teenagers asked their audience to share their ideas of the artists meaning behind the new work through a playful conversation and interactive drawing game. Thoughts and drawings are then left handing from the branches like leaves creating further interactions for passers by.
- Life Walk- Collecting autumn leaves under the trees off a path worn into the grass due to uni students cutting corners, audiences are then led to the town square where they race across to the other side without standing on the cracks. There next to town hall they place the autumn leaves beneath a sculpture of a family creating the shape of a heart and take a moment to reflect upon life.
- I Dream…Walk- Hidden in a rock wall, audiences find quirky and thoughtful messages from teenagers about their dreams for the future and when led back to the departure lounge they are invited to write their own dreams for the perfect neighbourhood as part of a collection.