“Women living on the edges of the world” is an international research and art collaboration between various global artist communities with the goal to study how art empowers women living in marginal conditions. The project is funded by Kone foundation. The art and research explores concepts of marginality, which in this project is defined by conditions of isolation and migration. This unique cross-continental collaboration explores and presents art and research processes of women working in different situations across various continents while facing challenges of isolation and marginality. Central to this study are women artists who may move from one role to another (be it spouse, mother, researcher, professional, teacher, artist, maker and friend), continuously fluctuating between identities to enable their becoming within communities, while surviving their marginalities.
The members of this research group, Satu Miettinen, Tarja Wallius, Daria Akimenko and Melanie Sarantou will share this problematic position by locating themselves in these dualistic positions by simultaneously being artists and researchers. Apart from exploring their own individual art and research projects with marginalised communities in Finland, Ireland, Namibia and the United States, this group will also work as a team to make, discuss, exhibit and share art with marginalised communities from Rovaniemi in Lapland, Murmask in Russia and Port Augusta and Oak Valley in South Australia.
Art is a media that enables the shaping of identities of marginalised women, while it also serves as a tool to process relationships within the communities they live in. Artists and makers negotiate and sustain their identities and existences through their practices in spite of the challenges they face. Their narratives will reveal how qualities of life and work environments impact on their art practices. Just as art making offers ways to ‘work through’ their particular life challenges, narratives offer ways to make sense of difficult circumstances. This research project will demonstrate how art and narratives function in social realms and suggest that stories play a crucial role in socially sustaining artists and their making practices. Women’s stories of empowerment and care towards one another and the self, that come about through art practices and making, will be some of the outcomes this project aims to achieve. Such outcomes offer means of coming to terms and coping with the marginalities that women encounter.
This innovative research and art project offers the participants the opportunity to orchestrate and design interventions according to their choice and how they envisage the execution of the art projects within their communities. This approach allows for a more balanced situation to emerge where the participants as well as the researchers have to cope with the familiar and unfamiliar. Taking into account the project’s focus on rendering audible the voices of the participants, this approach will ensure this outcome as the researchers’ input will be to record, document and contextualising their stories. The research team will be sharing in group discussions while using fieldwork diaries amongst a variety of tools to explore narrativity in various forms, such as video, audio, written documentation and texts. These narrative forms will disclose and render audible the research processes and outcomes to a wider audience.