The City as an Anthology/ Reading my Town by Writing her a Letter

Mariken Overdijk

2018-2020

In my thesis I approach several ways of reading my hometown of Amsterdam. Motivated by the fascination to expose the unnoticed daily reality in its urban space, I invite fellow-inhabitants to share a non-public part of their personal daily routine. These performative encounters result in ‘walks-on-paper’, created by letters, drawings and movement scores. Drifting throughout various surfaces of the city, I regard the relationship of the passers-by' daily routines with the traces they leave behind on the floor of the city, as a base for developing my autopsychogeographic method. Through an imagined reality, these traces reveal themselves in sentences and signs on the ‘pages‘ of the city’s anthology. The resemblance of writing and drawing on paper, with the way the city-floor is ‘filled in’ by passers-by, provides an insight into the narrative of an everydayness that takes place on both public and private grounds. In this ‘reading’ of the town, I uncover the value of imagination, thus allowing a more imaginative discourse with one’s own habitat creating awareness for the hidden poetry in the everyday.
The hypothesis postulated in this thesis is that the series of small scale encounters, that were conducted in my research, may contribute to imagination and identification of a hidden poetic quality of routings and routines of urban inhabitants with their everyday surroundings. This identification conveys an awareness of the imaginary space of the everyday that connects to a personal and local urban condition.
My research emphasises the valorisation of imagination as a non-economic but essential potential knowledge that deserves a valuable place in the public and private domain. The potential, as a subtle and alternate mode of working with imagination, that lies in this, is the ability to attend to and respect the uneventful side of the mundane. In that sense, my proposition of the term ‘autopsychogeography’, can be a method or a tool for anyone interested in poetic grounding in our material world, and attributes and emphasises additional value to the shared community narrative.

Supervisor: Dr. Mariella Greil

External Mentor: Dr. Paula Albuquerque

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