Súgán

From Inis Oirr to Istanbul – the creation of a súgán*, digital, verbal and visual.

 Galway, European Capital of Culture 2020

A story is told and recorded on Inis Oirr, a small island off the West coast of Ireland. That story is replayed and retold, again and again, travelling across Ireland and Europe. Along the way, it is translated, processed by peoples’ own memories, experiences and cultures. Layers are added and other layers are forgotten and let go. In parallel with the metamorphosis of this story, a drawing undergoes the same treatment. It starts on the Western edge of Europe and is passed from artist to artist. Each artist makes changes to the drawing, so it also undergoes a gradual metamorphosis.

The project will take in all countries through which it travels: Ireland, England, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

How will this happen?

The action will take place in a caravan, dragged in relay fashion behind different cars.  At each point of contact, people will be invited to listen once to the latest rendition of the story and retell it to the next person in their own language. Each telling will be recorded and saved. As language is characterised by landscape and culture, it is envisaged that changes will occur in the story, and that elements will be lost or altered in translation.

The drawing, in either charcoal or graphite pencil, will start in Inis Oirr. Each artist who receives the drawing will make small changes to the drawing. Each time a change is made the drawing is photographed. One artist could potentially make a series of small changes, or a large change, by erasing elements or by adding more drawn lines. The photographs will be compiled and together will contribute to a stop motion animation.

How can this work be viewed?

A website will track the development of the story through its journey. Using digital camera and a voice recorder, the progress of the story and the drawing will be constantly updated.

Each new telling of the story will be recorded on a separate sound file, and will be accessible through the website. The stop motion animation film, which will include all different stages of the drawing will also be accessible in real time on line.

Who can take part?

The first level of engagement will be generated by the European partners, local contacts, story tellers and artists. Through local media, it is envisaged that the visibility of the caravan will be promoted and that local communities will be invited to visit and contribute. The journey of 7,000 -10,000 km, and travel time of 80+ hours will be undertaken over two years. This allows for long stop-overs in key locations, and time for exhibitions in public spaces.

This project will be created and sustained by story tellers and artists across Europe. It is envisaged that the core story will stimulate conversations around similar stories, which should also be recorded. There is potential for an intergenerational layer, by planning the retelling of the story. During stop-overs, the drawing and recording equipment could be taken out of the caravan and into schools and/or old folks’ homes for participation by those younger and older generations. It could be brought into shopping centres where it will reach another level of public engagement.

Changes in the story and drawing should reflect and reveal cultural differences and similarities. It will build bridges between communities and serve to highlight areas home to minoritised languages and communities at risk. As it goes further along in its journey, the film and audio files will serve as documents of cultural connections.

European Partners

I am now seeking both European partners who will undertake to coordinate sections of the journey, as far as the next European partner. This will involve finding a driver for the car and caravan, planning the exact route and planning where the caravan will stop and for how long. It is envisaged that meaningful stop-overs could include stops at schools, and engagements in communities. Locally based artists will need to be employed along the way to work with the drawing at regular intervals. The story should be told and retold by regular people, but a good story teller would need to be put in place in each country to ensure that the story does not lose too much content. It is envisaged that the partners would host an exhibition of the drawing and the story, but that it could also be exhibited in places in between.

The Route

The route so far is sketched as the following:

GALWAY, Dublin, Holyhead, Hull, ROTTERDAM (Tupijumi), FRANKFURT (Eulengasse), BERLIN (Top Palais), AARHUS (Spanien 19c), Sjaellands Odde, MALMÖ (Galleri CC), ÖLAND (Yellow Box), STOCKHOLM (Fylkingen/Supermarket), UPPSALA (Köttinspektionen), Umeå, VAASA (Filmverkstad), Helsinki (Oksasentkatu), Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Minsk, POZNAN (Gallery Raczej), SOKOLOWSKO (Sanatorium Dźwięku), Brno, GRAZ (Kunsthalle Graz), Ljubliana, RIJEKA (also cultural capital), Sarajevo, Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul (Pasaj)

*Sugan is a old Irish type of rope made by hand, by twisting hay or straw. Different elements can be added, making the rope gradually longer, held stretched between two people. This project will be a kind of digital/verbal/drawn sugan.