In project with working title "QueeringReminiscences Queer Pasts in Finnish Reminiscence Writings and Oral Tradition Archives," dramaturge (Emil Uuttu, MA) and historian (Riikka Taavetti, PhD) together with sound designer (Tatu Nenonen, MA) will work in forming a radio play that addresses the knowledge production of queer lives. They will creatively combine archival research with artistic engagement of queering the archives, both their content and archival practices. Uuttu and Taavetti are applying for the residency, and Nenonen will contribute remotely. The radio play will combine found audio, documentary audio recordings and scripted, radio play scenes. The radio play will premier late spring 2020 and has secured funding.
The project utilizes the vast collections of Finnish reminiscence writings, life stories and oral traditions. The Finnish traditions of gathering folklore and popular tradition date back to the 19th century, and personal reminiscences and life stories have been gathered by open calls for writing since the 1960s. Currently, the collections of written tradition housed by the Finnish Literature Society are among the biggest in the world. In addition, the Labour Archives have gathered collections of writings from the 1960s onward.While these archives also contain small collections of LGBTQ life stories and other writings, the aim of this project is to explore the possibilities of queer approach with also those text that do not at the first glance address queer lives.
The project will give us new perspectives on how to address queer in archives and how to develop new ways to publicize stories constructed based on archival material. As the project will result in a radio play performed by the Finnish public broadcasting company, it has potential to reach large audiences both within and outside of queer communities.
The transparent and spacious dramaturgy of the radio play will allow it’s listeners to experience the found archival materials and learn about the possibilities and limitations of historical research. The play will bring focus to the many possible arrangements, compositions and interpretations of the archival materials at hand and while doing so, give time to think about human perception and formation of knowledge.
Taavetti brings to the project her expertise in working as a historian with life stories and reminiscence writings and, as she is also trained as an archivist, her understanding of the processes of archiving and how the histories of the archival institutions have shaped the collections.
Uuttu’s previous artistic work in the fields of contemporary dance, theatre and live art is focused on experiential composition of found materials. With this residency and collaboration they wish to take their practice further and learn from Taavetti’s extensive work.
Uuttu and Taavetti have cooperated in the preparation of Uuttu’s stage play Pleasures (working title) from summer 2018 onwards. Pleasures is a collaboration between Chicago based performance artist Vicente Ugartechea and Emil Uuttu. Through their transnational perspective, performance and archival material presented, they are able to question language and canonical history as an economy, and ultimately, question the structures of “essentialized” bodies and history.