Julie Poitras Santos (US)

My site-specific visual practice takes many forms, including video, installation, writing and public projects. The relationship between site, story and mobility fuels a wide range of research and production, including the relationship between natural histories, myth and individual story; walking as a form of listening to site; and material agency in an age of climate change. Recent work uses walking as means to create community, investigate richly sited ways of knowing, and narrate new territories.

During her residency in Blekinge Julie Poitras Santos recorded a film in the Ropewalk in Karlkrona and arranged a storytelling walk about flight.

Walk/public program in Ronneby, Sweden, May 2018
Flight Paths, significant moments of departure
Why do we leave and what is the journey like?
What do we carry with us, what do we leave behind?
In this evening event participants were invited to walk together, considering significant moments of departure. Perhaps you left home against your parents’ wishes; maybe when you go to work you have to leave behind your child; or maybe you have moved and left behind a favorite library or cafe. Maybe the departure was in haste, you had to leave your city with a moments’ notice, you grabbed a photo album as you rushed out of a burning home. Or perhaps the departure was more metaphorical, deciding to ”walk away” from a bad relationship, an old rage, a former dream. Departure – with its twin, arrival – asks us to give up something in order to find the new, but we aren’t always ready to go.

We began our walk at the entrance of Kulturcentrum in Ronneby, and walked away together through the narrow streets of the oldest part of the city, making our way to the town square. In the square we gathered to trade stories about departure and leaving.

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Julie Poitras Santos


Walking Backwards (Birger´s Walk)
Film screening at Karlskrona konsthall October 25 – November 2018
Julie Poitras Santos is interested in the physical work and human scale of the traditional craft of rope making and how working with the body is a form of memory making. “Walking Backwards” will weave together historical narratives collected from rope makers in Karlskrona, accounts of travelers and fragments from Xavier de Maistre’s 1794 “Voyage Around my Room” to create a fictional memoir that introduces a character constrained by place, work and class, but who imagines leaving it all for a life of adventure and travel.

The work takes the form of a video that braids together imagery from performers walking in the ropewalk and in the surrounding rural landscape of southern Sweden, hands that are making rope, along with other imagery gathered from the coastal region.

“Walking Backwards” uses the power of visual and narrative storytelling to investigate connections between home and away, longing and the lure of the unknown, and the paired acts of looking back and looking forward as functional ways in which we construct our identities.
Sited in a 17c ropewalk in Karlskrona, Sweden, Walking Backwards (Birger’s Walk) takes the form of a video that braids together imagery from performers in the ropewalk and the surrounding landscape of southern Sweden. The text weaves together historical descriptions collected from rope makers, ropemaking manuals, and fragments from Xavier de Maistre’s 1794 “Voyage Around my Room” amplified and enlarged by a piece of original fiction woven within the fragments to create an account of a ropewalker whose lover is lost at sea.

The Repslagarbanan (ropewalk) in Karlskrona, Sweden was built in 1692 and was in operation until 1960. It is now preserved as part of the city World Heritage Site.

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Vocals and violin: Astrid Selling
Audio recording: Dan Setthammar
Slängpolska dancers: Peter Svensson, Maria Persson

Created in collaboration with:
Konst i Blekinge, AiR Blekinge, Sweden
Kulturcentrum Ronneby Konsthall, Ronneby, Sweden
Repslagarbanan, Karlskrona, Sweden
Inter Arts Center, Malmö, Sweden

Julie Poitras Santos