How do you feel in this City? Favorite Places Part II
Right after finishing the workshop series in the museum (mumok – Museum moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien) and with an art mediator, we started the sessions in Favoriten, Vienna’s 10th district, with the same group of young adults we had worked with before. The cooperation between Spacelab, Mumok and Stand 129 went on, although now the focus was much more on the youngsters’ environment and therefore, the 10th district of Vienna.”Favoriten” is a district on the outskirts of Vienna with little cultural or art spaces. It is not – as the name would suggest – one of the most favourite districts of Viennese people, it rather has to fight against its bad reputation. The title of our project – “Favorite Places” was supposed to reframe this prejudice.
In this part of our project we focused a lot on the participants themselves. One of our main objectives was to raise the awareness of the importance of communication and encourage the participants in the process of building relations with themselves, each other and with the community. Our overall objectives were raising the awareness of identities: to create an open platform in which the youngsters would be able to talk about their feelings, own wills and wishes. A further aim was to learn and use concrete tools of participatory video making, sound and visual storytelling and finally to make a video about identities and feelings in the city and the area they live in from their perspective.
What is the space where we move in our daily lives and how do we stand in relation to each other? To explore these questions, we used some special techniques:
Silent staging: In this exercise, the art mediator who came to visit us in Favoriten, marked a space in the room with a white line and provided ten objects. One after another, the participants could either 1) place one of the objects in the space 2) move one of the objects inside of the space, or 3) take one out of the space. Every participant could just do one movement at a time. Without speaking, a story was developed and participants reacted to the actions that were done before.
In a second step we enlarged the space and could use everyone in the room, together with the objects. With the same rules, participants therefore could also stage their peers, place them in the space, move them around or take them out of the space. Silently, the space was negotiated as well as they could experiment with how far they felt comfortable putting others in a position; if, when, and by whom those places in the space were released again by someone who took them out of the space again etc.
Staging in public space: In the afternoon, the participants were sent out to different places in the neighbourhood with body maps that they had created, masks, and some of the objects of the previous exercise (each group was given one of the objects we had used). They were told to stage them, similar to the exercises in the morning, but in public space. They were given cameras to record their actions (both video and photos). The settings were: the park, a parking lot in front of a hardware store and a bus station. The different settings lead to interesting interpretations and different outcomes.
Another very important and exciting part of the project was the main shooting day. In two groups, we went outside to the city to film. One group was responsible for the interviews. The other was responsible for the filming of/ and within the public space with their masks and to collect material that transports emotions.
Being in public space while filming is always a challenge for youths and usually they develop great energies while doing it. One group decided to interview people from the district and ask them “if they are happy in Vienna”. The youngsters were quite brave and open to interview strangers on the street. The other group who decided to film themselves with the masks to collect additional material for the video was also very brave. They enjoyed being in front of the camera in the places which they often use without noticing in their daily lives (as a bus stop or a pedestrian underpass). But this time, they used the space with a different role. The masks gave them the freedom to move like another person on the street, close to strangers, strangers themselves.
The film production was undertaken with the methodology of Participatory Video-making, which is a method that facilitates a group in the production of their own video. It is important to let the decisions be made by the group and to make sure that the video represents the view of the participants towards a certain topic. By introducing video in these workshops, we made sure that the young adults kept an interest in our topic and worked on it in their own way. Video is always a good magnet to attract people and, also very importantly, share the outcome with a broader community. Viewing the environment through a camera lens always means getting new perspectives and getting new viewpoints.
Our workshops concentrated very much on the participants themselves, on their identity, their perspective of themselves and their environment, their wishes and feelings. With a lot of body work, the participants got to engage with themselves. With methods like creatively conceptualizing their dream city we explored common grounds and concepts that stand behind the term “city”, always thinking city not as a fixed entity but a space that is created through the people who use it.
Finally, the experience culminated in a walk in the tenth district that ended at Stand 129 at Viktor Adler Markt where we presented our artefacts and visual outcomes of the project, as well as in a celebratory closing event and project presentation at mumok museum. It was a proud moment for all of us seeing the abundance of artworks that we had produced all together displayed in the “sacred halls” of the museum. It was now the young adult’s turn to present their work and to premiere the movie they had produced to a large and interested audience. How do you feel in this city now?