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I will leave you a voice message
by Maria Papadouli 

Maria has found that one of the most self-reflexive activities she has ever engaged in, has been walking around Berlin while exchanging long voice messages with a close friend. That “practice” has simultaneously connected her to the city and to herself. She, reluctantly, but, enthusiastically, invited the participants to do the same. "Let a walk inspire you to throw some random thoughts in a (potentially) awkward recording. Share the recording with a pal. Welcome their (potentially awkward) message, and try to be open to whatever it might bring for you. And, last, but not least, let us all make a story together• a  story, born and shaped by our little journeys through the city." The product of this exercise was a poem, produced collectively from our recordings. You can read the poem, listen to a recording of a (semi)collective reading after its original formation, and also listen to some messages that were recorded by the participants for a (semi)random receptor below: 

Poem (almsot) all
00:00 / 01:30
Poem (almsot) all
00:00 / 01:30
Message 1Participant
00:00 / 04:45
Message 2Participant
00:00 / 03:24
Message 3Participant
00:00 / 04:32

A bright orange building.


Ah, here’s a dog park.

It reminds me of a feeling of softness.

It’s kind of a nice feeling, I guess.

Like getting lost in the flatness of the sea.


I’m not good at apologizing.

Like having sex with a car.

A frozen tiger with a concrete mind

I feel will help.

Was that a firework?


And that is my confession to you, mystery person:

I’m scared to admit I am scared.


I’m just walking around at the moment.

But where is the lake that I search for?


Dear sweetheart,

How do things fit together?


Someone is screaming

To remind yourself:

I love being alone in green spaces.


Stable life, for a dog.

Which is something I’ve missed, I guess, for many months.

Makes me wonder if there are still places with no human intervention.


Apologies shouldn’t be just words.


Square, cement, cozy balconies lost in Christmas.

And a bottle of vodka.


I’m thinking so fast.


"The second exercise was led by me. I talked a little about how the pandemic, my bike accident, and the shaping of a digital, long-distance friendship motivated me to start taking my long winter walks, and how they were feeding my thinking process, and affecting the relationship to my friend-receptor of my long voice messages, and to myself. I asked of my participants to do the following: they would have to take a short, twenty-to-fifty-minute-walk around the neighborhood and record a voice message on their phones. The message would be listened to by another participant, but we would not know which one, until we all have returned from our individual walks.


And off we went. While recording my message, I felt the need to be apologetic about asking people to engage in activities that would potentially make them physically uncomfortable and feel cold. At the same time, I made sure I expressed my gratitude and excitement about this workshop actually taking place. Part of me wondered if that was a somewhat “staged” confession• but I quickly shut that thought down. After everyone was done walking and recording, we gathered in the space and we sat around a large table in the studio’s kitchen. I proposed that we pass our phones to the person sitting on our left, and go someplace quiet, where we could listen to the message and note down a couple of sentences, or words, that stuck out to us. In retrospect, I wish I would have been able to plan for more time for the exercise, so people could have taken more time to walk around and record for longer. I have found that, at least for me, there is a certain rhythm and a certain level of comfort in returning to my body to be achieved before I start sounding clear and self-reflexive in a voice recording. I was hoping that I would be able to provide the same amount of time and the right kind of instructions to the participants, so that, despite it potentially being a strange, and possibly uncomfortable experience, they would be able to get a similar sense of the experience I have had during my walks. I don’t think I succeeded in that, but I do think that there was a part in the exercise that felt quite moving: the part where we found a quiet and isolated place to sit and listen to the other person’s message and took notes. It came up in the conversation that followed the exercise by most of the participants, as one of the most enjoyable parts of it. I was reminded of the warm feeling of intimacy and trust I got while at the beginning of this walking-and-talking journey of mine. We gathered around the table once more, and we took turns, reading out loud the sentences or words that we felt writing down, from the recording we just listened to. A short poem was composed out of that process.

We treated the collaborative poem-writing part of the exercise more like a short game. It brought a certain lightness to the atmosphere and became a nice introduction for what was to follow: a nice meal, accompanied by just the right amount of wine and beer. I feel that the meal provided a space for us to bond and spiked conversations about our past experiences of living (and walking) in other countries, whether these were our home countries or other places around the globe."


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