Tartu 2024: Writer in Residence
In 2022, I was lucky enough to get selected to represent the Manchester UNESCO City of Literature organisation as writer-in-residence in Tartu, Estonia. The brief is to work in collaboration with an Estonian artist from a different discipline to create a new piece of literature/art/performance for the 2024 Prima Vista festival, when Tartu will be European Capital of Culture. The theme is 'Futures Better and Worse', and we're invited to think about the notion of utopias and dystopias in the contemporary moment.
And what a moment. We're still reeling from a pandemic, climate catastrophe edges ever closer, identity politics is at a feverishly fracturing all-time high, and just across the way from Tartu sits the border of Russia. Now more than ever we need to contemplate our hopes and fears, we need to confront and wrestle with the future and how we imagine it.
I have spent a week in Tartu during November 2022, just to get an initial feel for the place. I wrote a trio of blogposts to cover the occasion. A nervy post of anticipation, an effusive post while I was in the midsts of it all, and a satisfied ending once I'd got back home. I also wrote up a reflection on being a 'creative resident' for the Manchester City of Literature blog. The next stage of the plan is to return in Spring 2023 and properly start working on some actual creation, before refining everything in time for 2024.
I also joined TikTok to document the trip, although the documentation turned out to be somewhat haphazard and silly. But that was the mood that took me, and long may it continue.
The documentation will continue, one way or another. In the meantime, here are some choice photos from that first trip: