Bring Your Own Utopia

Banner: Bring Your Own Utopia

Familiar streets, slightly unfamiliar neighbourhoods, occasionally a surprising hidden corner, and then again all the well-known landmarks and sights, places to be and places to pass through – undoubtedly every resident of Tartu perceives “their” Tartu slightly differently from others, but still, we have a relationship with Tartu as an environment shaped by years, experiences, adaptation to changes, as well as the layers of everyday life and habits. But what if someone who is not familiar with these environments, places, and landmarks that are part of our daily life looks at our city? Someone for whom Tartu and Estonia and its culture are largely unknown and waiting to be discovered? Someone for whom encountering this physical and mental environment and exploring it could also provide a creative impulse? For example, a writer who comes from elsewhere. For example, from another UNESCO City of Literature. A writer who brings along their dreams and fears, their utopias and dystopias, draws experiences from Tartu and weaves what they have experienced into their creative process. And what if they were joined by a local creator – a performance artist, sound artist, visual artist, or another writer? It is quite likely that in such a case, something completely new, unexpected, and perhaps even strange could emerge in Tartu, whether it becomes a more or less temporary environment, a unique experience, or a more permanent work.

To further explore the creative potential of these possibilities, utopias, and dystopias, and the possible results of such an experiment, the Prima Vista Literature Festival 2024, with the theme “Futures Better and Worse,” and the UNESCO City of Literature Tartu have invited five writers from other cities of literature to join forces with us. They each spent a month in residency in Tartu before the festival, collaborating with a local artist to create five new works that connect verbal art, other artistic fields, and the urban environment by May 2024.

On the 7th of May, an exhibition featuring the works of Norwich poet Penny Boxall, Tartu’s current city writer Maarja Pärtna, and musician and (sound) artist Liis Ring’s installation “Once was mire. Siin oli soo.” will be opened at TYPA. On the evening of the 9th of May, Heidelberg writer Anne Richter and Estonian musician Argo Vals will lead the festival audience on a verbal and auditory stroll “Walk through the times of me, you and us”. Ásta Fanney Sigurðardóttir, a poet, visual artist, and musician from Reykjavík, will create an installation titled “Ülekäik” (Crossing) with artist Timo Toots along the street Narva Road (Narva maantee), which will be unveiled on the 10th of May. In the late afternoon of the same day, an installation by Ukrainian poet and video artist Olga Povoroznyk and Estonian artist Eike Eplik will be opened. On the 11th of May, a storytelling event titled “The Forest of Ink and Skin”, created by Manchester writer David Hartley and interdisciplinary Estonian artist Henri Hütt, will take place at Tartu New Theatre.

The project is a part of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 main programme.