Moscow Stories: Narrating City’s Past and Present

Part of: Telling the City


Cities excite the imagination, and ask questions of their most alert inhabitants:

- Where do we find the topographical sites and social scenes that give the city its charisma?

- What are the places and landscapes that seem to capture, enclose, channel or store up meaning in the city?

- What traces and phenomena remain from the passage of time, and of all those lives previously lived?

- What kinds of creative experiment enable the dramatic re-telling of these situated city stories?

- How can we «story» the city into shape?

This workshop will allow participants to find answers to these questions as they produce a new suite of «Moscow Stories». Participants will scatter across the city in search of original tales, dating from Moscow’s past and present, its politics and personalities, and all points in between. Expressive methods of field study will be employed during participants city searches (i.e. photographic «storyboarding», sound walks, counter-cartography exercises, site-marking, trail-marking, oral history, modern archaeology and creative non-fiction).

These techniques will enable creative documentation and storytelling. Field study will be followed by studio-based collation of collected material and composition of narratives. The eventual display of stories at the Strelka Institute will draw on older traditions of performative storytelling and will use new digital media for designing presentations and projections. Participants are encouraged to come to the workshop equipped with preliminary ideas about the kinds of stories or sites they would like to explore.

These ideas might:

- draw inspiration from matters of personal history, family history or public history,
- focus on particular kinds of city locale or land use, ranging all the way from cemeteries to riverbanks, abandoned buildings to transport hubs, city squares to waste disposal sites,
- seek to chart alternative or unexpected routes through the fabric and infrastructure of the city.

To prepare for our new suite of «Moscow Stories», we will begin with discussion and conversation based on a short reading excerpted from Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s Memories of the Future (copies provided).

Minimum participant requirements
Ideally, participants will have digital cameras and sound recording devices for personal use during outings in the city.