"Tell a story – get a coffee."
Story Café, participatory video project, 2004– Above: Story Café stories video
In Johanna Lecklin's art project Story Café the visitor gets a free coffee in exchange for a story. The stories are recorded on video. The visitors can also watch videos of earlier stories that are shown in the café. Some of the stories are dramatised into short films. The project started 2004 in Broadway Market in London during an residency at Artsadmin and has been arranged in several art festivals, biennials and group exhibitions in more than ten countries. Lecklin has recorded around 400 stories in her cafés around Europe between 2004 and 2011.
Visitors have been happy to share their stories in front of the camera and watch others' stories. Lecklin has collected both very personal stories, anecdotes, traditional stories, travelogues and stories overheard on the bus or read on the internet.
Above: Story Café, participatory video project, Biennale of Young Artists, Rüütelkonnahoone, Tallinn, Estonia, 2007
Johanna Lecklin has set up her Story Café in different venues in several cities around Europe: Berlin (DE), London (GB), Limerick (IE), Liverpool (UK), Helsinki (FI), Tallinn (EE), Moscow (RU), Kuopio (FI), Brussels (BE), Fribourg (CH), Turku (FI) and Terni (IT).
In Story Café the visitor gets a free coffee in exchange for a story. The stories are recorded on video. The visitors can also watch videos of earlier stories that are shown in the café. Some of the stories are dramatised into short films. Lecklin has collected both very personal stories, anecdotes, traditional stories, travelogues and stories overheard on the bus or read on the internet. She has collected around 400 stories ten different languages.
Reality TV is today an everyday phenomenon, and it has changed people's attitudes towards performing publicly. Performances acted out in front of a camera are no longer the privilege of a small minority. The seemingly undirected recording of stories on video is a method that has been used quite frequently in personal documentary films in the 1990s and 2000s, as well as in videos borrowing the narrative devices of the tradition of documentary films.
When Lecklin first began recording stories, she assumed that the narrators would be truthful and that their stories would be recorded on the videotape just as they were narrated. Soon, however, she began questioning to what extent were they, in fact, performances? How do the narrators construct their identities in front of the camera? How do the earlier recorded stories affect the performances of the new storytellers? An artist who uses the performances and stories of other people face certain ethical questions. Can we speak of a reciprocal relationship? Where does one draw the line of exploitation?
Some of the stories are dramatised into short films:
The Cage | single screen, (2015)
The Cage | two channel, (2013)
A Christmas Tale, (2013)
Therapy Animal Story, (2010)
A Summer Job, (2009)
Above: Documentation of Story Café in Kiasma & Kerry's story
1) Documentation of Johanna Lecklin's Story Café video installation from the collection exhibition It's A Set-up, Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma, Helsinki Finland, 26 March 2010 – 20 February 2011.
The installation has variable dimensions. In Kiasma it is shown on four monitors with ca four hours of stories on each. The stories are recorded in eleven cities in eight countries around Europe between 2004 and 2010. Six dramatizations, Tomorrow (2007), A Summer Job (2009), Therapy Animal Story (2010), The Cage (2013/2014), Guilt (2013 and A Christmas Tale (2013) of a selection of the stories is shown on a flatscreen. The main idea of Story Café is to collect stories to a story archive. The motto is: Tell a story, get a coffee.
2) A sample of a story, which is recorded in Lecklin's Story Café in Broadway Market, London.
The remake A Summer Job is based on this story.
Story Café in Suomesta galleria, Berlin, Germany, 2011
Story Café at City States Exhibition, the Nordic Pavilion in Liverpool Biennial, UK 2010
Story Café at es.terni art festival in Terni, Italy, 2010
Story Café installation in the collection exhibition "It's A Set Up" in the Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma,
the Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Finland, 2010-2011
Story Café in Surface, Turku Biennial 2009, Aboa Vetus Ars Nova Museum, Turku, Finland, 2009
Story Café, Belluard Bollwerk International Festival, Fribourg, Switzerland, 2009
Story Café, Trouble #5, live art festival, Les Halles de Schaerbeek, Brussels, Belgium, 2009
Story Café, Finnish Institute, London, 2008
Story Café, ANTI Contemporary Art Festival, Kuopio, Finland, 2008
View from Story Café in Artplay, Moscow Museum Night, 2008
Story Café in Linnagalerii, Tallinn Kunstihoone, solo exhibition, part of the Biennale of Young Artists, Tallinn, Estonia, 2007
Story Café in Huuto Gallery Uudenmaankatu, Helsinki, 2006
Story Café in EV+A exhibition, Limerick Biennale, Ireland, 2006
Story Café in Broadway Market, London, 2004
The first Story Café was set up during a residency arranged by FRAME and the Finnish Institute in London at Artsadmin.
Confessions, live art and video project
Baltic Circle, international theatre festival, Puoli-Q Theatre, Helsinki, Finland, 2011
Confessions is a work that was commissioned by Baltic Circle International Theatre Festival in Helsinki in 2011. The visitors were invited to share their secret confessions in a confession chamber, which had been set up in the cellar of the Q-Theatre. Lecklin recorded the secrets behind a semi-transparent curtain.
Above: Confessions at Baltic Circle, international theatre festival, Puoli-Q Theatre, Helsinki, Finland, 2011
Above: Still photos from Confessions video, 2011