You Are Here (Turku)

You Are Here (Turku)

2006
While historical figures are on the battlefields and dividing their empires, people elsewhere are taking care of everyday chores; preparing food, eating, drinking, shopping, falling in love, discussing issues, killing - and producing reality. 
-Fernand Braudel
 

You are here - the concept was conceived to combine the city's experiential history, psycho-geography, functions in contrast to experience, and to bring out the kind of history that often disappears behind the known and the many times experienced.

The book was published in the spring of 2006 and it included, among other things, the city tour of the ugliest places in town, recordings from Turku silences, and assignments to get to know a person from Turku. The work was chosen to the Club of Non-fiction Books (Tietokirjaklubi) by The Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers and Heureka. Also, the travel magazine Mondo awarded it with the honorary award of The Travel Book of the Year (2006).
 

Background

I moved to Turku in 1998 and found a big white wooden cross along the banks of the Aura river which my Turku acquaintances thought was a memorial for an ancient train wreck, but which turned out to be erected to honor a 13th-century bishop's residence. Later in the depths of a parking garage, a music store, and a bleak shopping center, they found a 500-year-old chapel of the Holy Spirit, of which only a few knew. When I had been reading a pink book on a deserted cliff (and realized only much later that that had been the hanging site of the town), it crept to my mind that this city is much more than just the Cathedral and the Turku Castle.

The fact that we as individuals are in a chain of people and history gave me great comfort. At the same time, it sparked a desire to protect the essence of Turku, to show the residents the hidden and valuable Turku, committing people to the city in which they live, which is not - and need not be only a space between work, home, commerce, and ice hockey matches.

I collected memories, experiences, and ideas from Turku, between 2003 and 2005 during interviews in the Market Square, by gathering data in small My Dear Friend Turku notebooks that were given randomly from people to people, with disposable cameras and with the help of letters left in the backs of the seats on trains. Parts of the experience were collected as art pieces: Guided tours to romantic places for young couples or bingo events with a twist on local buses for grannies, where instead of numbers one had to spot urban moments outside the bus windows.

When at the Provincial Archives, I spent dozens of days in awe, admiring, combining and being puzzled by the photos. Many of the tasks in the book were born right there from the realizations that occurred to me; on the basis of photos of semi-demolished houses I wanted to make a task where people could reconstruct the houses by drawing the missing elements of the houses.


Publisher: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Avain
Graphic design: Pia Seppälä
Illustration: Maarit Kotiranta, Meiju Niskala, Piia Seppälä