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Performance as placemaking

(Photo. Satu Miettinen)

Written by Satu Miettinen

Faculty of Art and Design, University of Lapland, Finland.

These photographs are presenting an arts-based research experiment "performance as placemaking".The goal was to develop performance as an arts-based methodology to observe, experience and familiarise oneself with the surrounding environment during travels from Rovaniemi to Ustjoki for different projects, including Dialogues and Encounters in the Arctic (DEA) last February.The first experiment took place in Nuorgam at Pulmankijärvi, which is located close to the Norwegian border.The second experiment took place at the Jäniskoski fireplace in Inari.It was a group of artists, designers and researchers working in Dialogues and Encounters in the Arctic, AMASS and SmartCultur projects performing and experimenting with performance as placemaking.

Experiments with the performance for the placemaking started with a visit to lavvu, a traditional Sami housing.This lavvu was made by one of our main collaborators, Arto Saijets who masters a number of traditional Sámi crafts (duodji).During our visit we enjoyed a tasty meal prepared by Arto and partner Marina Falevitch, which included both reindeer and whitefish.This moment of sharing food created an atmosphere favorable for the performative experiments.

In modern times, we need to find new ways to ground ourselves when placemaking is not constructed through families or traditional knowledge related to locations. We were studying: “How to make sense with the space and create a meaningful connection with nature through performance?”.

Improvised performance. (Photo. Satu Miettinen)

The two experiments were relying on arts-based methods: improvisation, intuition, performance and photography.The idea was to present feelings related to the natural environment with embodied actions and movement, through performance in the specific places that felt special and specific during the trip, specifically Pulmankijärvi and Jäniskoski.These performances were discussed in a group afterwards to see if these made the experiences more special or made us observe surrounding nature more in detail.

See the 360 exhibition created around the experiment and please, turn on the audio:

Work by Satu Miettinen.

After these first experiments, this method has been further developed.We have utilised this in the context of remembering and performing the place as a warm-up practise for SmartCultur living lab meetings in Utsjoki.It would be wonderful to run a similar practice for one DEA project workshop with more participants.

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