Where are you?/hvor er du? is a performance work in two parts.
First, a box arrives at your school. You open it. It contains a letter from two artists. They need some information from you. They are inviting you to complete some activities. Answer some questions that they have. They want to know some things about where you are: where do you come from? What do you think about it? What happens there? Is it good? What is bad? What would you change? What is your school like? Do you like it? What do you think about it?
The box contains other things too: activities and materials for one class and their teacher. It contains checklists and questionnaires, disposable cameras and half-completed maps. It asks the students to undertake these activities and respond to these questions. To respond honestly, it asks them to produce material, to produce material that contains some ideas about the place where they come from. To complete these activities will take about one hour. Once these tasks are complete, the class re-seals the box and send it back to the artists. After about two weeks, the artists visit the class. They bring with them words, sound and images. They talk about who we are, who we are not, where we are, where we are not, and shows pictures and plays sound from different places.
Together these performances – the performance of responding to the object of the box, and the performance from the material it generates – is called where are you?/hvor er du? The project thinks about and reflects on themes of human geography: space, identity and locality. We want to look and think about ideas of where we are. The places where we live, work and study: where we come from, what we do, and he things that might be good about that, and the things that might not be so good.
Many educational art projects think about ideas of interactivity, and ask how students can be “involved” in making or thinking upon the themes of the work. This usually means a workshop with one or all of the artists after the event. This is usually an opportunity for students to meet with artists, talk to them about what they presented, and let the students have a go at make something themselves. This is something like the work they have seen, but always has a sense of being separate from it.
Where are you?/hvor er du? approaches the idea of interactivity and making work with students from a new direction. Rather than showing something then asking for a response, we seek a response first, inviting students and their teacher to generate the raw material to be included in a performance, and then allowing them an opportunity to see it.
In a modern context, ideas of human geography: of place, identity and locality are often discussed. Where are you?/hvor er du? addresses these important issues: of diversity and culture, of similarity and difference, of migration and nationality. This project do not seek to use “traditional” forms of musical or linguistic presentation, but looks at these ideas from several points of view and uses several artistic forms – sound, language, image and music. These ideas of diversity will also be reflected in the works makers, one from northern England and one from northern Norway, one that usually works with text, one that usually works with sound.
Where are you?/Hvor er du? was also occasionally adapted and performed for grownups:
Kirkenes (NO), Barents Spektakel
Oslo (NO), Showbox
London (UK), Battersea Arts Centre 2010
Stamsund (NO), Stamsund Int Teaterfest 2010
Read more about Andy Smith.