Workshop by Stephen James Webb and Daniela Pascual. 5-6 September 2020, Kuninkaansaari, Helsinki.
How does a new space unfold to us when we are unaware of its history? And how might different narratives affect our experience?
In Finnish, polut means paths. During this workshop, participants explored the area near the bridge connecting Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari in Helsinki, Finland. Combining deep mapping practices and archival research, we shared simple scores for listening and paying attention to the landscape and the histories that have shaped it.
The first part of the workshop took place by an artificial stonewall near the shore. Participants engaged with it from different distances, taking the time to observe how the wall blended with its surroundings. We invited them to ponder about its function and the events that might have taken place there. Then, everyone got closer to the wall, interacting with each stone through different senses, and becoming aware of the wall’s protection of both plant and animal life.
The second part of the workshop consisted of a guided walk around an area opposite the wall. Each participant received a transparent paper envelope and chose a marker or pen as its companion. Inside the envelope was a postcard with four plant drawings: yarrow, tansy, juniper, and heather. Each drawing indicated a stop on our route, during which we got to learn about each plant presented and carry out a score inspired by it. The participants documented these explorations on the transparent envelopes, superposing the map of their own experiences with the group’s shared journey indicated in the postcard.
The workshop ended with a picnic and shared discussion on the other side of the bridge. Polut: walks and talks was part Uniarts Helsinki’s Saari 2020 (Island 2020) programme on Kuninkaansaari island.