My Childhood is a multi-year international art project about childhood and children's narratives. Through My Childhood, we collect and collate verbal and bodily expressions of and about childhood from several countries and different cultural contexts.
Through practical art workshops, we find and document the children's own stories, songs and movements. In the next phase, this material will form the basis for developing meaningful artistic expressions. Center manager Marit Ulvund and artistic director Karstein Solli are responsible for the implementation.
In the project My Childhood / Min Barndom, we will examine and compare the children's expressions (verbal and bodily) of childhood. We will visit schools and communities in different cultural contexts and countries. Our goal is to gather impressions and knowledge about what children are engaged in and worried about, and thus find knowledge about how they experience their life and childhood.
Experiences in childhood are often formative for later experience with a sense of self-confidence, identity and belonging. Childhood stories are therefore important to listen to. The stories we tell are based on actions we have experienced, and can be both embodied and reflective memories. Working physically with stories and experience represents an important entrance to understanding both history, oneself and others, and can become important for developing meaningful artistic expressions.
Through the echo theater method, we will work with the children's own stories. The method works well in bringing out the story's action and body-based origins. Furthermore, we collaborate on staging the story, and finally the narrator gets to see a small performance of his memory. In a dance workshop, we will continue the work carried out relating to objects, space and movement. In this way, we will seek to recognize the children's way of moving, and how they choose to express themselves in work with spatiality and objects.
By listening to, working creatively and effectively with the children's stories and movements, we hope to come close to understanding their experience of childhood. In addition to collecting material through the workshops, we are interested in learning about the children's own culture. We are planning open time where we will ask them to share their own songs, riddles and games.
In addition to this, we will talk to and collect stories and reflections from some adults. We will try to find people who can be considered representative of the culture we are visiting. These interviews will complement the workshop and the conversations we have with the children in each country. Furthermore, we visit museums, art galleries or institutions to see if it can add information about our impressions and childhood in the area.
My story and your story - narrator and theater workshop with Marit Ulvund
We tell our lives to get to know ourselves, and life stories are necessary to find out who we are. In meeting each other's stories, we develop understanding both for ourselves and others, and this exchange forms the basis for our experience of identity. In the theater workshop, we will, among other things, arrange stories that the children choose to tell through echo theatre. They will also have the opportunity to draw their own story as a cartoon (narrative), and if time permits, we will improvise some narratives as well.
Space and objects in motion - Dance and movement workshop with Karstein Solli
This workshop is based on object and movement. The children bring one or more objects that have emotional value for them, and they get to tell about their connection to and why they have chosen their object. We then explore various movements linked to the objects they have chosen, and link this to a change of the room. Among other things, we create geometric shapes using wide tape that is stretched in various ways in the room. The children place and move both themselves and their object into this spatial landscape. Through this work, we make it possible for the children to express something about themselves and their childhood through movement linked to space and emotions.
My Childhood aims to collect material from five different parts of the world. We have previously been to Brazil, Norway and New Zealand. For 2024, it is planned to be carried out in New York
WHO: Marit Ulvund, Karstein Solli, Vitor Truzzi & Sabina Jacobsson.
WHERE: Garca og Ilheus
WHEN: April 2019
In 2019, My Childhood Brazil was carried out in the cities of Ilhéus, which is located on the coast of Bahia, and Garça, which is located in the interior of Sao Paulo county in Brazil. We visited two different schools, one in Garca and one in Ilheus.
In Ilheus we were also together with a group of children from various places and gathered under spiritual leader Alba Soares who practices Candomble, an Afro/Brazilian religion. As a chosen leader, she has her own religious meeting place with a house and land in Ilheus. All workshops and interviews were filmed and we have documented exciting material of stories, expressions of movement, rhymes and rules. Both the art workshops, the stories told to the children and the interviews about childhood with the three experienced and wise ladies Alba Cristina Soares, Tamine Borsatto and Dirce Jorge were the highlight of our work with my childhood in 2019. The three women contributed insightful considerations about their childhood, and childhood before and now. Tamine Borsatto is the director of the museum India Vanuire, which looks after and presents Native American culture in the area and talked about the museum's history and role. "What is a child?" We asked Dirce and leader of the Kaingang tribe located in the interior of Sao Paulo county. "The future," was her clear and short answer.
Joining the visit to Brazil were external producer Vitor Truzzi and film artist Sabina Jacobsson.
WHO: Marit Ulvund, Sturla Pilskog & Kristian Glomnes
WHERE: Kjøllefjord Skole, Lebesby Skole
NÅR: November 2021
My Childhood Norway was planned to be done in Kjøllefjord and Lebesby in March 2020 and for a visit to Oslo in autumn 2020. The scheme was based on the same structure as in Brazil. We were to visit schools, carry out workshops and conduct interviews with film documentation. Documentary filmmaker Sturla Pilskog is engaged and responsible for filming the art project, Center Leader and Associate Professor in drama/theatre Marit Ulvund (theatre workshop/interview) and artistic director and senior lecturer Karstein Solli (dance/movement workshop/interview) together with Kristian Glomnes as producer.
The first major outbreak of Covid19 and the shutdown of Norway happened when we were on our way north with the Hurtigruten, and on 12th of March we had to end the journey and cancel the visit to Kjøllefjord and Lebesby. In November 2021, we had the opportunity to travel and the team that went was Sturla Pilskog, Marit Ulvund and Kristian Glomnes from Seanse. We had great workshops, meetings and interviews with both children and the elderly.
Many thanks to all children, teachers and managers in Lebesby and Kjøllefjord schools, and Johnny Myhre from Lebesby for good help along the way. A big thank you to Fredrik and Irene in Lebesby, Margrete in Kjøllefjord and Egil in Nyrud who took the time to talk to us about their childhood and thoughts about being a child today!
WHO: Marit Ulvund, Karstein Solli, Kristian Glomnes & Sturla Pilskog
WHERE: Gamlebyen Skole, Tøyen Skole
WHEN: Mai 2022
Min Barndom Oslo was conducted at Tøyen Skole and Gamlebyen Skole with Marit Ulvund and Karstein Solli in charge of the workshops and interviews. Seanse's producer Kristian Glomnes and documentary filmmaker Sturla Pilskog were there to document it all and help with the logistics. The first school was Gamlebyen School and the next day we held workshops for Tøyen School. Thank you all for the nice stories and movements that was shared.
Between the workshops, we interviewed some representatives of adults that who grew up in Oslo. Kari-Ann Grønsund grew up in poor conditions in Grünerløkka and has a long career as an actress and voice actress. Here we found out about her childhood and how she thinks it is to be a child today. With us we also had Frode Haverkamp, who is a Norwegian art historian and has, among other things, been the curator of a large number of exhibitions at the National Museum. Here we also learned what it was like to grow up in the city of Oslo.
WHO: Marit Ulvund & Sturla Pilskog
WHERE: Auckland New Zealand - St. Patrick School og Balmoral School
WHEN: November 2023
My Childhood New Zealand took place in Auckland, New Zealand 2023. Center Manager and Associate Professor of drama/theatre Marit Ulvund and cinematographer/filmmaker Sturla visited the primary schools St. Patrick School and Balmoral School. It was eventful and inspiring meeting with the children and teachers at both schools. The theater and movement workshops were very well received, and it was exciting to hear the children talk about the various nice things they were happy with and had brought with them from home to show us in the class. Sometimes we got to share sad stories, and often funny ones. The children at St. Patrick School showed us the ancient game of knucklebones, which has different names but is played roughly the same in many countries. We also got to interview Christine Holland and the painter Rob Rob Gardine with nice conversations about their childhood in New Zealand in the 'old days'. We are delighted to have brought new and exciting material with us from yet another continent.
Thank you to everyone, young and old, who welcomed us and shared their precious objects and stories.