vague terrain frölunda

vague terrain frölunda

"vague terrain - vague tissue", artistic research, geographically situated in the suburb of Västra Frölunda, Gothenburg, Sweden

This is a site-specific collective artistic praxis and we are investigating into vague spaces through the interventions of temporary, process-based, textile installations in non-traditional spaces. The vague spaces are based on "terrain vague", a concept coined by the architect Ignasi de Solà-Morale (1995). Vagueness is here explored from the point of view of the citizen, the habitant and the wanderer inspired by Michel de Certeau (1984). Therefore the vague terrains explored are small in-between vacant areas in (sub)urban spaces, scheduled to be built upon in the future.
Vague Tissue is the development of site-specific tissues that grow, transform, pulsate, molds, camouflages and play with visions through transparency and create complex spaces that changes over time. The materials used are experiments with the spinning and preparation of textile fibres and yarn. The first year 2012/2013 will be devoted to basic research focusing on vague space, designing the probing activities, material experiments and development.
On this blog you can follow experiments, encounters and interventions in vague spaces of Västra Frölunda.

All photos by Lena T H Berglin och Kajsa G. Eriksson

a long good-bye – an exhibition and film

epiloguePosted by Kajsa G Eriksson Mon, February 10, 2014 13:12:59

The finishing process of the project “Vague Space – Vague Tissue” project by Vague Research Studios will include feedback to the community in Västra Frölunda. In September 2014 we will have an exhibition at Frölunda Kulturhus including a seminar, workshop and presentations. During the year spent at the vague space we have collected not only the material but also other traces from the space and a massive amount of photographs. The image archive now consists of 3500 images. From this archive we will make an animation a multimedia film named “Barnen, alkoholisterna och konstnärerna” (The children, the alcoholics and the artists) where we will collaborate with Gustaf Leijelind, Milena Karlsson and Pontus Gunve.

  • Comments(0)//

stripping down vague material

epiloguePosted by Kajsa G Eriksson Mon, February 10, 2014 12:39:43

The time has come to strip down the material that has been part of the vague space for over a year. The time of moving on has come. We will create something with the material, the threads will re-appear as a textile trace of the space. A formation of a memory since the trees and the vague space will eventually disappear.

  • Comments(0)//

THE ROUND RING – a vague space in Västra Frölunda

epiloguePosted by Kajsa G Eriksson Mon, February 10, 2014 12:15:40

In the summer of 2012 Vague research studios initiated the project ”Vague Terrain – Vague Tissue”, in which the concept of vagueness is explored through an artistic process. The concept of vagueness is inhabiting a potential, that is to say a possibility for the unexpected to happen or to be created. In the project of “Vague Terrain - Vague Tissue” VRS would like to exemplify and concretize this potential through a long-term exploration of a vague space. This is a translation of an article about the project published at the blog “This Must Be The Place” the autumn of 2013. It was published in Swedish and here you can read it in English.


Vague spaces

In the city, especially in peripheral project areas there are spaces characterized by the ephemeral as they are scheduled to be built upon in the future, so called “vague spaces”. Vague Space or “Terrain Vague” is a conception coined by the architect Ignasi de Sola- Morales. These places usually have a life-cycle of a few years, sometimes longer. For city planners, politicians and landowners these spaces are archived as potential future building prospects. But for those people who are using these spaces and who passes by they are part of their everyday life. Vague spaces have a character of the city's "subconscious" and are frequently used as dumping sites by both residents and the city, the dumping could be consisting of various materials like gravel, old clothes, trash and shoveled snow. These places are invisible not only geographically but also linguistically as they are not mentioned or named and usually only heard of as problem areas. The sites are partially hidden but also populated by dog owners, moped riders, alcoholics, kids and joggers. "Our" vague place was found in Västra Frölunda and VRS then made their workplace and studio as a one year project and commitment. In this case the location of the vague space will be developed with housing in autumn 2014 and will thus disappear as a common and public space. The new buildings are part of a project called “Äppelträdgården” (the apple orchard) and has three stages. The first phase is already built, the second built in the autumn of 2013 and the last phase will be building on the actual site of the vague space making it disappear.

THE ROUND RING – public yesterday, semi-public tomorrow.

The shopping mall Frölunda Torg and the houses around it was planned in the late fifties and was built in the early sixties and by that the area was converted from a pure rural area to the urban space it is today. Also mentioned in the early plans and how patios were linked to the rental apartments. For example, in the plans from 1959 it is said that it must be scheduled to be at least 12 square feet of play area per average-sized apartment. Through the community center Frölunda Kulturhus we have made ​​contact with some people who have lived in the area for a longer time and they could tell their story about the place. One story told about the vague space is that it had trees planted all around the circular shaped green area which is visible from the early flight photo. The space is drained and has a manhole in the center, the ground is immersed and therefore sheltered and the trees around the meadow creates a shaded circle. Who designed this place is a mystery since the early plans only reveal the space as a regular square ball field.

In the sixties the place was used as a playground and parents were resting in the shade and had joint oversight of the children playing on the lawn. The place has since been named by the people using it, it´s called THE ROUND RING. In the seventies the place changed character and became a sort of backside of Frölunda High School where young people hung out. Today THE ROUND RING has developed into a vague place, "in between ", a margin that can be completed and interpreted by many. When reading the old city plan and comparing it to the new plan from 2008 the linguistic change is striking. The Town Plan of 1959 highlights and describes a "public place" with different characters and there are areas that can only be used for "general purpose". The "general" can be linked to "common" to older expressions that describes something that is common. The new plans of the area describes the open slots that will be left between the new buildings with the words "the contiguous garden rooms stands for the semi-public space. There are common areas for play and recreation ". This way of writing is revealing a new desire different from earlier public spaces and commons, here the plan reveals ideas of semi-private spaces and semi-public spaces and the argumentation for this new structure in urban planning is to provide and enhance security.

Vague interventions

In order to explore the space Vague Research Studios started the process by installing a “textile text” that would interact with the site's unclear identity but not eliminate the vague or "tidy up" the character of "subconscious" public space. VRS was aiming towards a form and content of the intervention that integrates with the site at several levels; materially, socially, geographically and sustainable in the sense that the interventions organization and degradation becomes part of the site's story. In addition to formative and documentary processes, we have worked through informal meetings, these were constantly occurring since we physically were spending time in the place. The collaboration that developed out the most from the process of informal meetings was with Frölundaskolan (school) and with a group of children 7-10 years who during the year we have met several times. They worked with us as co-researchers exploring the vague space together with us. The school children were already using THE ROUND RING as some sort of playground and after they found us as we were making our textile intervention the collaboration started. As co-researcher the schoolchildren was given a material from us and to a certain extent we formalized the explorations and discussions of vague places and public spaces. The school children brought a frenetic energy and occupied the space with ease and self-confidence.

Creation vs order

The development of the informal meetings with the school kids was quite straight forward but what was more difficult to develop was the meetings that took place wordlessly. We had a few conversations with the alcoholics who populate the area a few times, instead we observed each other's presence on hold. They as a group noticed us and we noticed them but there was not many crossings of our paths even if we occupied the same space. It is only now at the end as we have come to actually meet and had conversations, probably has both the way we look at them and they at us changed, but it has taken time. Those who use the area to sit outside and drink beer together has already built up its own structure with places where they congregate.

The entire area around the vague space is and has been a construction site in the past year and the recently completed recreation area Positivparken (Positive park) with new play areas for different ages, fitness equipment, bowling greens, football and volleyball courts and dog parks is a process that we have noted and documented. In the late sixties Frölunda was known for a large play ground where the kids could build whatever they wanted from real wooden materials. The playground is no longer there, during the seventies the space shifted and became a hangout for young people who drank “mellanöl” and was demolished. “Mellanöl” is a pilsner beer which was sold in shops and not in the regulated shops of Systembolaget in Sweden between the years 1965-1977. The idea of ​​the playground as a place where you build and create, agree well with other ideas and artistic examples from the late sixties. One can compare the “lumberyard” playground in Frölunda with artist Palle Nielsen's major exhibition “The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society” at Moderna Museet of 1968. This an example of art which includes strong visions of the society. It is described that the kids were swimming in paint at the Museum of Modern Art and the kids’ hands-on creativity was seen as a slow but steady road to freedom and an active community.

The Model – A Model for a Qualitative Society

Today's playground for the young children in Postivparken in Frölunda stands in sharp contrast to the playground at the Moderna Museet. Here everything is ready, things can only be chosen and used, not amend, build or re-build. Vague is that which is not complete, where there is a potential for an addition. The not-yet-ready is not something alien to us in an everyday life setting but is often perceived as something negative. The not finished requires both tolerance and forbearance with the undefined, all boxes cannot be ticked and everything cannot have a box with a label on. Layout and design traditions has a dark side, an idea of ​​an ultimate finality which promise to include all dreams and desires. Design is after all not necessarily the ultimate place for dreams and visions, especially not if the designs are pre-determined by someone else. It feels as if the tolerance around our commons and public spaces decreases. It is also a story about socio economical class, where and in which context things are done, for example if you own a piece of land and maybe have your own patio drinking a glass of wine together with your friends, or if you take the freedom of doing the same action on a city-owned (our common) ground. Coming back to the vague place THE ROUND RING, an ultimate public place and a vague space whose identity is unclear and therefore fragile. But even so, this is an excellent place for resting, secrets and explorative sketching. Vagueness make up a space where the division between the useful and the useless is becoming blurred and not distinguishable and this gray area and margin allows and enables me to add something, if only myself.

  • Comments(0)//

to be a place

vaguenessPosted by Kajsa G Eriksson Wed, January 29, 2014 14:49:51
The place as a space moves into my body and becomes a part of it. This is an un-reversible process. To flow, to flee into a space, to mimic, to appropriate and partially assimilate. The space is eventually left and abandoned and still the space lives on inside of me as memory, experience, new stories and fantasies. The process goes on regardless if the space is self-organized or governed but there is a difference, in a governed space the actual structure and system of the space seem to move in to my body rather than the informal and random meetings of a vague space and in this case a particular “terrain vague” in Västra Frölunda.

I picture the connection between my body and the space as an invisible thread that continue to exist between me, people, plants, animals and material.

  • Comments(0)//

the material one year later

experimentsPosted by Kajsa G Eriksson Tue, January 28, 2014 16:42:16
The process of the exploration of the vague space is slowly coming to an end. The circle of our work are closing and so are also the seasons. The yarn of wool have survived the season surprisingly well and have been integrated and mixed with nature at the site. The integration has created a beautiful result where you can still see the intentional design but where nature has done it´s own work by and unorganized organization that takes it one step further and makes it even more beautiful…and vague…

  • Comments(0)//

another building site

urban developmentPosted by Kajsa G Eriksson Tue, January 28, 2014 16:11:18

The environment around the vague space is becoming a building site where new houses are popping up very quickly. We are observing and documenting another building which been around for quite a while. This wind shed are an informal and self-organized meeting place for people drinking beer outdoors in the area.

  • Comments(0)//

the future of vague terrain

urban developmentPosted by Kajsa G Eriksson Thu, October 10, 2013 17:02:47
One character of the terrain vague in Västra Frölunda is that it is going to be built on in the future. This will happen in the autumn of 2014 and be part of the third stage in a building project called The Apple Orchard built by White Architects. The project is described like this:

"Own identity – a richer whole
Äppelträdgården provides its inhabitants with their own separate identity. People living on this estate will not just be living in Frölunda but in the "apple orchard”. At the same time, Äppelträdgården offers an attractive aspect for people who already live and work in that estate. Instead of constructing sharp physical boundaries between the site, the estate and the surrounding areas with the purpose of creating an island of safety, we are creating an local attraction that is open to all. This will give people living here the opportunity to get onto the property ladder, with a home on their own plot of land within the same housing estate."

The second stage is already on its way and will look like this according to the builders and architects.

In this picture one can see the vague space at the end of the field.

The houses from stage one looks like this from within the vague space.

One of the ideas of the Apple Orchard is that there will be spaces between the houses left as an apple garden for everyone to use. Therefor there are no fences on the architect drawings of the garden. The people who live in the houses have another idea and have been putting up fences to mark their property. A quite new phenomena in the area.

Here you can read more about the Apple Orchard in Swedish.

  • Comments(0)//

vague play

vaguenessPosted by Kajsa G Eriksson Mon, May 27, 2013 11:30:39

We have found that the vague space have become a place for playful constructions with materials like branches, sticks, stones and straw. Is it the kids from school using the space?
A few days later we found out what was going on. The art school at Frölundaskolan was inspired by the workshops/interventions we had done in the vague space and had started their own outdoor project there using natural material found in the space to built and create different forms and shapes.
By doing something in a space does not only mean it ends there. As long it is public other people will be inspired.

  • Comments(0)//
Next »