textorium, a week of collective writing in public space

photo by christoffer björklund 2022

textorium is an experiment in collective writing in/on/with public space initiated by lena séraphin, with artist-writers emma cocker, andrea coyotzi borja, cordula daus and vidha saumya. between 30 May – 4 June 2022, this group of artist-writers met in vaasa, finland, coming together over a period of days to write in/on/with the market square. textorium is an iteration of the sharing text postdoctoral research project by lena séraphin at åbo akademi university, finland.

inspired by the writings of georges perec and his book an attempt at exhausting a place in paris that acknowledges overlooked phenomena in a parisian square in 1974, the project textorium attends to vaasa’s market square as an ever-changing phenomenon, writing and rewriting it through the lens of different prompts and scores. in one sense, the project explores ways for intervening in, disrupting or unsettling the homogeneity of civic consumerism and the commercialisation of urban common space, through the gentle act of focused attention and through languaging the space otherwise.

textorium invites a multitude of intertwining writerly perspectives through observational writing underpinned by bodily awareness, perception and sensations. phenomenologist max van manen refers to textorium as a “virtual space that the words open up […] The physical space of reading or writing allows me to pass through it into the world opened up by the words, the space of the text.” however, van manen refers to writing/reading as a means of  transference away from the everyday differing from the quotidian that is brought into attention by perec, which is further enhanced by his concept of the infraordinary.

we wondered how our experimental practices might generate insights into the experiential space of collective writing? what other ways for perceiving and reimagining public space emerge in and through language and performative live-writing? in turn, how does writing in a public space shape and inform the emergent possibilities of language, alongside the felt sense of subjectivity for both writers and readers?

introductory text by emma cocker and lena seraphin

georges perec. (1975). an attempt at exhausting a place in paris. translation marc lowenthal. cambridge ma: wakefield press, 2010.

max van manen. phenomenology of practice. new york: routledge, 2014.