I began DD Residency, an exchange between THIStudio and Hospitalfield, with the intention to compare the historical and current attitudes of women living in London with that of a woman in Dundee. Initially being drawn to the histories of working women in Dundee and the unique social structures that informed their relationship to their domestic and social lives. In the 1900’s the high number of working women in jute factories, created a matriarchal hierarchy leading Dundee to be nicknamed ‘She Town’.
With this in mind, I planned to enter into people’s lives in the local area of Tottenham Hale and engage in conversation through joining groups and other ways recommended by the studio. Through this residency I wanted to try and understand this by experiencing.
At the same time, I have been intrigued by the theory surrounding the contemporary idea of the female Flaneuse. Thinking about how a woman can occupy ‘space’ within a city, questioning what this means? Through the act of walking, alone. Being in a new city.
Some of the questions I started to ask myself in this process where;
Do I feel intimidated being in a city? How do I logistically navigate my way through each area? How do feel walking with no purpose or end goal? Does my gender have any impact? How do I balance engaging my intuition for a sense of direction against my safety and need to control?
So I began to walk.
I picked an area.
I planned my route (relied on city mapper far too much.)
How can this be spontaneous?!
Made backup plans for when (not if) I became overwhelmed with the prospect of having no plan in a strange place…
A place of notable interest.
and then i walked until i got hungry, thirsty, tired.
I got lost, then found my way, then lost again, so on and so forth.
10AM – 7PM I walked or travelled.
This was my pattern for one week. Two weeks.
Becoming more aware of my female gaze. I watched, curious as people commanded and occupied their own space in the streets, the cafes, in the galleries; with a confidence ready to defend their sacred space. Acting against the crammed spaces the city had to offer them while moving and travelling from place to place. In the street and in their homes, they owned it. I admired it. I liked my naivety.
The studio became a place to divulge in these thoughts and experiences, into sketchbooks and diaries and on scraps of paper.
I felt privileged and lucky to have the space and time to work without life pressures.
The the need to converse and learn of others experiences evolved as I became fascinated with what was going on behind closed curtains. What was going on through the wall of my bedroom. Quietly observing. Do I really need to know or is it enough to desire?
Like the woman of the past, the initial inspiration for this experience. I was able to be the product of my lived experiences and built environment. By looking out I found a space for looking in, reflecting on my practice.
(Selected readings as references)
Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
Etel Adnan, Of Cities & Women (Letters to Fawwaz)
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs
Lauren Elkin, Flaneuse
Eley Williams, Attrib. and other stories
Anna Murray Jute, Jam…and Woman, https://www.scotswummin.org/blog/2017/2/9/jute-jam-and-women