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poetic interventions in public spaces

What if you stumble across an unheralded line, glued to a banister or a random door:

‘apropos,gravity is gently supporting your skin from all sides’?

How will your somatic imagination react?

As an artist and person with the history of intentional relocations, I have naturally grown sensitive to spaces and their qualities. What is a main 'tune' of a place and how is it carried through the bodies of locals? Is this urban space people-friendly, making one feel spacious and ‘ventral’ or does it trigger and maintain the dwellers in a constant loop of a stress response? If so, how? How one claims the space their own? How can the space and us grow familiar: which gestures, routes and code-words are the right ones for this particular ‘Ort’?nThis is just a small portion of questions I always find myself dancing with.

So little by little, I have developed the artistic practice of leaving (love) notes and invitations to re-imagine the /poetic/ body of a city and its locals. I believe that this act was ignited with my urge to get to know Cologne, a city where I might find home.


In January 2020 I happened to come to São Paulo and from my first step on the ground of the grand Brazil I could witness that Brazilians did have a certain embodiment. Locals seemed to move as if connected to the centre of the Earth and it differed substantially from the embodiment I had seen and experienced before in other places. Curious, I invested hours watching people of São Paulo carrying that amazing appreciation for gravity in their bodies. How does a place you are living inform the way you move?

Another distinct somatic pattern revealed itself in the city centre: un-safety, the omnipresence of CCTV cameras and barb wired fences, the rupture between the classes might have put the somas (bodies and minds) of Paulistanos into the reality of tight skin and clenched jaws. Aware of this context I have put my mind and heart to sprinkle the collective body of the city with some love messages. I collected and translated into Portuguese the list of phrases used within a dance community (which is usually used to ease the way into an improvised dance). Each phrase starting with 'apropos' as a subtle, inviting, soft way to ignite imagination. And thus, my poetic flaneur-ing in São Paulo commenced.

Here and there I would pause to listen to the soundscape of the places, observe the context and imagine what this very spot might call for. I witnessed centennial trees towering over the market spaces, a river kept choking under asphalt, tiredness of street vendors and many more. I do not hold an illusion that my secret messages stayed long on the city skin. Most probably, as everything else tiny and selling or praising nothing, they must have disappeared from the surface of the grand São Paulo in an hour. Though, I keep cherishing hope that someone might have paused, startled for a second, amused with the image and went on feeling some extra space in their body.

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While you have been reading this post, there might be a slight possibility that every inch of your skin started blossoming and opening like peonies. ...which color, by the way?

Cologne, São Paulo, 2020 - 2021

// Inna Lipovets