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What is your favourite place/space in Winnipeg?

September 5, 2010

Today was the first Showing Up, Speaking Out gathering at aceartinc. focused on co-creating an artistic project in public space on the subject of recreation in the city. The day went a little like this:

After a few formalities, Inge kicked things off by presenting a selection of her past projects in public space and talking about her experience at Art City earlier that week. The group learned about her dialogical approach to art making and the role of story-telling as a process and practice.

Taking some time to introduce ourselves to others in the group, we each expressed what it was about the theme of recreation that captured our interest and encouraged our presence at the art making session. The list looked like this:

  • The difference between institution/organization-led activity and Do-it-yourself activities that are not necessarily labelled “recreation”
  • Play and the availability of places to play
  • Spaces as places we can appropriate as our own, and the ways in which we can make space our own
  • Public recreational spaces disappearing because people are entertaining themselves at home
  • Sharing recreation related facilities/resources as part of establishing a smaller ecological footprint
  • The political state of community, that being, the closure of smaller facilities throughout the city in favour of central hubs that are partly privatized. Interest in small and local spaces to cultivate community interactions

From this list, we gleaned that places/spaces and the distinction between public and private place/space was most interesting to us, so we decided to explore that further.

In the process of doing this, we had an interesting critical conversation about social change and the importance of not forcing it. We also discussed the experimental nature of the overall Showing Up, Speaking Out project as a process of civic engagement with ideas that relate to urban planning, community consciousness, and interpersonal relations, as opposed to a project aiming to propose any specific policy. The focus of this project is to express new and different ways of thinking about the issues that concern every day life in the city of Winnipeg.

Instead of creating a project in the gallery and taking it outside to stimulate discussion, Inge pointed out that the process of speaking with people in the streets about their ideas on this subject was important and ought to be the focus of our activity. We brainstormed on ways to do this and came up with a question to ask:

What is your favourite place/space in Winnipeg?

If people wanted more prompting before answering, we could also ask for their favourite place/space to be involved in some sort of activity.  We realized that the nature of the question would lead to responses we could quickly sort our in relation to our interest in public/private space.

One team went to the Assiniboine Riverwalk, another team went to Central Park, and the third stayed in the Exchange district.  After approximately two hours of conversations, the teams returned to aceartinc to sort and review the statements collected and share stories that we’d received as part of the conversation process. We were almost overwhelmed to discover how many of the locations were outdoor public spaces including “parks”, “the Forks”, “alleys in the Exchange”, and “Osborne Village” in comparison to indoor public (i.e. libraries), indoor public/private (Graffiti Gallery), and private spaces (Robin’s Donuts). This could have had something to do with the fact that most of the people were engaged in outdoor spaces, but in many cases people were en-route to other destinations, so that can’t be the sole reason.

Our research was certainly not devised to achieve scientific/statistical accuracy, but it did give us a unique opportunity to find out what interested a wide cross section of Winnipeggers and visitors to Winnipeg about our city. It also welcomed participants to be engaged in dialogue about their perspectives, and encouraged storytelling about personal interests and memories.

Instead of the earlier idea of summarizing the responses into a poster to be distributed on community bulletin boards, Inge suggested mapping the responses, and the group agreed it would be interesting to do this using the cards we’d created to collect the responses. The idea of placing the cards around the map of Winnipeg in the gallery, and connecting the location identified on each one to their corresponding point on the map with coloured yarn was selected.

Tomorrow a few of us are meeting at aceartinc to install the cards at 12:00 p.m., and we expect to be there for at least an hour. Feel free to drop by if you’re in the area =-) Alternatively, join us at Art City to carry on the library and bookmaking project from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Sept 6 and Sept 7.

The next co-operative art making session at aceartinc. takes place on Saturday, Sept 11 with Stop Violence Against Women Action Group including collaborating artist, Leah Decter. The session begins at 1:00 p.m. and will run until 5:00 p.m. Feel free to drop in anytime.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Milena permalink
    September 6, 2010 3:58 pm

    Participants included: Inge, Cam, Ken, Francesca, and J with Milena + a whole bunch of people out in the streets =-)
    Photos by: Francesca and Milena

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