The Urban Story Hunters are Vilja Itkonen and Marije Nie, and together they involve communities in the exploration of personal and collective narratives.

Vilja Itkonen is a director, writer and performer from Helsinki, Finland. Marije Nie is a tap dancer and performer from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. They have been artistic residents at Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium in Holstebro since September 2016, and have been active in many artistic and educative projects in the area.

The Urban Story Hunters’ project Vinderup Stories  – Urban Story Hunters is part of the Local Transformations project by Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium in Holstebro. It was also part of Aarhus 2017, European Capital of Culture 2017. The project was brought to Vinderup through local artist Sara Holm Strandby.

Between August 27  and October 1, 2017 the urban story hunters visited Gullestrup, a suburb of Herning. This first project was called Gullestrup Stories.

”There is no ready made plan or a map. We have come without speaking Danish and without any previous experience on Gullestrup. We don’t bring here ready made art products to be shown. We come as two strangers, wandering around and meeting Gullestrup as it comes to us, finding possibilities to share moments of life with the people who live and work here, do what they do and experience the neighborhood as they do. The suburb speaks for itself and we do our best to receive its stories.” 

The project was an encounter with a place, an artwork of meeting local people, understanding their culture and hearing them. The artists let Gullestrup and it’s residents reveal itself to two strangers. They wanted to see how a stranger becomes a part of community by hearing the stories that are told. During the month Vilja and Marije lived in local kindergarten and met uncountable amount of people from Gullestrup and heard their life stories. 

The artistic product were the meetings and the process itself. Some of Marije’s and Vilja’s notes are collected in the projects webpage. During the project also the concept of map was analysed. Vilja and Marije led workshops in Gullestrup school where local children build their own maps.

Marije and Vilja at the school in Gullestrup

Part of the project is documented in a documentary film Gullestrup Stories. The documentary is directed by Matias Giacumbo from Argentina and has been screened at several film festivals around the world.

documentary film Gullestrup Stories, by Matias Giacumbo