International exhibition "A City as a Writer's Workplace" opens online
By Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature | Posted: Tuesday June 23, 2020
The International online exhibition A City as a Writer's Workplace brought together 100 photographs and texts from writers and artists from around the world. The exposition, organized by the Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature program directorate, is presented in English and Russian.
The idea of the exhibition is to collect photographs and short texts telling about those places in the city where the authors like to write. The project helps to understand the writer’s relationship with a city and allows authors of different countries to know more about each other’s work. Photos are also supplemented with links to writers' websites so that readers can familiarize themselves with the author's texts. Initially, applications were only accepted from the UNESCO Literary Cities Network members, but authors from other cities also showed interest in the project, so the organizers expanded the exhibition.
"The online exposition includes photos from different parts of the world: Europe, Australia, Russia, New Zealand, the USA, Israel, the UK, South Korea, China, South Africa, and India. It is very curious to explore how the working conditions of the authors are changing today: some write at home at the desk, in a cafe or a garden, others sketch poems right on their smartphones, ride a bike or look for solitude in the writer's residency. Some writers are inspired by the colours and sounds of the city. It turns out that many authors still write by hand. The Coronavirus has made changes in the writers' work, and they told us about it in their texts. Authors miss the places to which the pandemic has closed access," said Gala Uzryutova, an author of the idea and the exhibition curator, the "Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature" program coordinator, poet, and writer.
The well known Chinese writer Bi Feiyu from Nanjing UNESCO City of Literature presented his favorite place of work at the exhibition. Especially for the project, he photographed his reading room, where he writes his novels, commenting: "Heaven or hell, it’s all here”.
Alan Spence, Makar (Poet Laureate), playwright, novelist, and short-story writer, sent for the exhibition a photo with the view from the window of his flat in Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature, looking across Holyrood Park to Arthur’s Seat.
The writer from Ljubljana, Andrej Blatnik, published nine fiction and five nonfiction books and awarded with major Slovenian literary awards, shared a picture of the inspiring Triple Bridge. During the quarantine, this famous bridge was completely empty, while usually, this place is the heart of life in the capital of Slovenia.
A special part of the exhibition is dedicated to the workplace of the famous South Korean writer Pak Kyongni (1926-2008), who wrote 20 novels and stories and 3 poetry collections. The exposition includes the photos of the late Pak Kyongni's writing space, established in her old residential place in Wonju city, just a minute's walk from Toji Cultural Centre. She kept writing at this place until her death in her later years. It is well known that she never allowed anyone to enter her writing space even though she welcomed guests and writers in a living room. She wrote on a sitting cushion, having a tea. As the author slept in her writing space, a rush mat was on the floor. In the pictures, you can also see a stand-type lamp and a manual type electric fan that she bought young and used until her death.
Willi Zurbrüggen, an author of two published novels, a translator of Hispanic literature, from Heidelberg UNESCO City of Literature showed the places where he wrote his novel "Der ferne Tod": a desk at home, a room in the Grand Hotel in Opatija (Croatia) and a room in the writer's residency on the Gotland Island.
Poet from Dunedin (New Zealand) David Howard sent a still life with a bicycle, which helps him in writing poems.
Russian writer Irina Bogatyreva (Ulyanovsk-Moscow) told about how she writes at home, under an oak tree in Terletsky park, and writer's residences. Gali-Dana Singer, a poet and translator from Jerusalem shared a photo of the courtyard in which she works and a picture from Milan. A prose writer and translator Tatjana Hofmann photographed her balcony in Zurich for the project. Also among the Russian-speaking participants of the exhibition: writer Nekoda Singer, poets Sergei Gogin, Danila Nozdryakov, writer Mikhail Kamaleev, and others.
Ulyanovsk authors, who took part in the project, said that they are inspired by Venets Boulevard, the Volga River, and the old streets of the city.