LET’S TALK ABOUT learning. How we discover, find, and make new connections. Ideas, shapes of thinking and the input that comes from places that might not be the ‘usual’ ones. No more boring meetings: What are the containers that make great conversations *happen*? Conversations that lead to better collaboration and better work? Those are important. Let’s not waste time. Let’s make things better, together.
I was taken on a journey that transported me out of Vietnam, but also, outside of all the usual boxes that you can find even when you leave the nation-border box. (HT Jiddu Krishnamurthi) For example, the strict thinking that keeps us from trying new things. All the feelings that I have been having here in Vietnam on my own, for a year, unable to articulate because of English I got to completely open up and share. That was amazing, and I got to hear, moreover, something in exchange. These exchanges are what I enjoy most about making S P A C E. They—the exchanges—are, after all, the whole point of it. And fun. ‘If it’s not fun’, as Boss says, ‘then there’s no point doing it.’ Thanks to conversations with MB this year, though I am coming out of the cave. It’s nice outside. Sunny.
Is getting designed. It will take place this month. It will happen in HCMC.
Relational aesthetics x ‘N’..
I’ve sent, by now, more than 20 invitations here and there through the internet to people and most of those, of course, have gone unanswered. Though there is always the magic of the follow-up note, I’ve found, in my past explorations in hosting ‘N’ in other cities. Phnom Penh, to start, and then London, Copenhagen, Bangkok, Hanoi.
‘N’ is your masterpiece, DK
-AM, 2017, Phnom Penh
‘N’, an invitation, is here, if you are curious. I’m always open to hearing from people who just simply find out about it and get in touch. Cool! That’s what I do! So yeah. Most welcome to initiate a conversation with us, if you like what you see at the link.
Design is trying things,
then trying them again..
You try it, you find out what works, what doesn’t. You adjust and adapt the next set of things so that you optimize for what you want. In the case of ‘N,’ right from the start, I was designing for: making it happen. Who has time to send 67 emails trying to meet for coffee? Not me. So I just invited 16 people to meet at the same time and at the same place so they could all have the guesswork and admin time neatly removed from their lives and simply show up for a party. That. Was. The idea. And it still is, six years later.
‘N’ in Hồ Chí Minh
set for December 2020..
If you have already been in touch with DK about this, at some point in the months of September or October, when we hosted our small four-person meet ups, then you can come to this one and see what you missed. If you got an invitation, and were wondering, here is your second-chance. I don’t usually do that, but due to covid, 16N has been recast as a series of mini-parties instead of the giant ‘big blind date for 16 people’ that it used to be. Still and all, I’m curious to see what will happen when we do this, again, this month. Some are registering. Some are going to be there. Will we see you? Let’s find out. Email us back if you got the invitation, or just go through the links from the invitation page.
Atelier S P A C E // HCMC is an Autumn 2020 project of DK’s that is co-created by photographer Van Tran and DK Creative Director Dipika Kohli.
‘Studio Day’ by Van Tran / Ho Chi Minh City, Oct. 2020
.. this page used to be a notebook for a grant application that I was going to apply for…
There are so many important questions that pop up when someone who knows how to ask you if the thing you’re making is deserving of wider attention can ask.
Atelier S P A C E // HCMC’s collaborating team is loose and changes, and the people who come bring what they like to the tables. We started to share more there about ideas, mostly philosophical things related to space, time, distance. A-ha!, that’s it. Questing.
The lead story for this issue is ‘Bờ Biển 1999,’ or ‘Seaside 1999’. It’s by Quân Nguyễn.
This story is in Vietnamese and in English.
Special thanks to DS Phong for editing.
Two images made by Boss are included in this issue, too. Cover image is a show of new works that is a collaboration to make new kinds of zines and art books. This project is led by team members of Atelier S P A C E / HCMC, who are, so far, Văn Trần and Dipika Kohli.
Feature writer: Quân Nguyễn
Quân Nguyễn writes about his reflections on visiting his home country while returning to his life abroad, in Denmark. On his way to Aarhus, in this quiet moment, he looks back on childhood, and recalls a friend. A dear friend, whom he has not quite lost touch with as they maintain a digital connexion. Yet, somehow, he feels far. A short flash fiction work, in both English and Vietnamese.
S P A C E | Đà Lạt • ‘Tìm Mình Trong Thế Giới’ is the next in our weekly e-zine series. It is set to release on Tuesday.
DK Director Dipika Kohli made the drawing on the cover this week. The drawing’s title is: Chúc Ngủ Ngon & Chào Buổi Sáng / Good Night & Good Morning.
A line artist for many years, Kohli has rekindled her old style of drawing by putting pencil to page again. This [cover] drawing is part of a series of more than fifty new pencil and colored pencil works. These were created in quiet moments, on the spot, in several cafes and brightly lit atelier spaces she discovered while in ‘The Great Lockdown’ (so far) in Đà Lạt, Việt Nam. Kohli had plenty of time alone to write, draw, and reflect, whilst also working on a new book, End of the Rainbow (Kismuth Books / forthcoming 2020).
Thiseffort has come out of the slowing down, a natural outcomeresulting from the first and second waves of covid19-related measures to maintain social distancing, and self-isolating, in the era of this, the Great Lockdown, so far. Kohli has been in the Central Highlands since April—and continues to discover and make. In bursts, that is. And only when inspired by the chance encounter and surprisingly enriching dialogues with the people in the places where she goes. S P A C E is a weekly zine. It is created by Design Kompany, which was started in 2004 in Seattle and today is based in Phnom Penh. DK are intrigued about how to design the space for an aesthetic moment to happen, on the spot, for unexpected and random connexion, with the people, objects, and places where they go, in S P A C E.
The artists gathered for this co-created zine are four very curious people.
Art, natural patterns, and words intertwine in a collaboration between them.
The nature of art
Lee Moore Crawford, a floral designer and artist, once struck up a conversation about the Japanese art of ikebana when DK happened upon her arranging flowers at a coffee shop in Durham, NC, circa 2011. We never forgot it.
So when DK collaborated with another creative person who takes inspiration from nature to make the cover image of this issue (Dipika Kohli took the original photograph in Huế, then forwarded it to digital processing artist Nils don Sihvola in Finland), we wanted to ask Crawford what her feelings would be. Lots came of this interaction, including a short piece, ‘Bloom.’
To give the collection continuity, we then circled back to former culture editor Michael Bridgett, Jr., whose article, ‘Why I Art,’ opens yet another fresh perspective.
Lots of conversations. Lots of back and forth. Lots of email, discussion, redirection.
All of it goes into the current week’s issue, S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Blank Sky Checklist.’
Cover photo by BOSS.
‘Art takes time’
This week, we publish Issue #44.
It’s a cocreation between Alexis Jokela in Finland and Dipika Kohli, our creative director and editor of Autumn 2019’s S P A C E collection, ‘Trust the Process.’
DK had spent three months in the north of Finland in summer 2018. ‘The whole thing is getting kind of interesting now that the conversations are weaving over themselves and inviting new people to join them, too. That’s because, I think, it’s because, mostly, I love to keep things moving, keep things in progression, because it’s more fun than starting from zero. Art, like I wrote in A Place Called Home, art takes time.’ For DK, the best part is that things are starting to place themselves in such wonderful ways that people are meeting each other now. In person, even. This is beautiful. Connexion, at its best.
Order S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Blank Sky Checklist’…
This week, the lead story is ‘Ch_cklist,’ by Alexis Jokela, who also is the author of ‘A Summer Love Story’. That was published in S P A C E’ | Oulu. Following similar threads, ‘Ch_cklist’ touches on the things we all go through when we manage to learn how to master our feelings, let things move and shift, and find flow.
S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Blank Sky Checklist’ is published exclusively here in S P A C E. Download it all this here.
JUST FOUND this by happening to be in the right bus, at the right hour, in the right place, to happen to hear it. This is the very stuff of S P A C E. Chance encounters, serendipity: veer. You go where you don’t know what might happen, and you happen to run into something magical. I call this the ‘magic moment,’ when it happens. I was on the bus. There was a young woman in the row in front of me. The bus was pulling in, but this song. This song! What was it? It was in Finnish, but having been here for three months now, I could pick out the words that stunned me. The refrain (catchy, poppy) sounded exactly like the title of our new zine. How does that happen? It just… does. You go to a place and you look for the art, the things that people are trying to express, or that you feel they are sharing with you, and you make a piece. In the case of DK, a zine. That spells out our explorations into what people shared with us about ‘summer,’ and ‘love,’ and the ‘love story.’ In the case of Mariska, it was a song. ‘It’s like a love story.’
Hers is Itserakkausjuttu—[Update: A Self-Love Story] It’s like a Love Story. (Listen to it on our ‘Exit Vantaa’ playlist at Spotify, here.)
There it is.
The chance encounter with… someone else feeling and expressing similar things to us. So even though it was a song over the radio, that didn’t mean it wasn’t important or connecting. It mattered. Mattering. There’s more to say about that, but not here, not yet. Saving it for the book, Kesärakkausjuttu. Editing this week. Almost done. Friday is my deadline. Whew. Almost there. But meantime, pausing to appreciate that another artist in the same country, in the same summer, also hit on this exact idea—our media of expression are different, but conceptually and aesthetically, our pieces are exactly aligned. Isn’t that what we call ‘good chemistry?’ It’s amazing when it happens—rare, beautiful, impossible to believe, at times, and almost always, the kind of sharp and pungent hit of dopamine that might be exactly what you need, in a particular place, time, and space. When you get the sharp high, everything moves from ‘this,’ to ‘adventure.’ And it’s adventure where DK loves to explore at the edge; that’s the ever-emerging shape of S P A C E.
ROAD TO ROVANIEMI. I heard it on the bus, yeah. I was in Rovaniemi, or just-about-to-be. It was kinda cold out, me and JŽ‘d gotten rained on, and I was like, ‘Let’s just get back and get warm and eat something.’ But then, um. The song. It struck a chord with me in a way that hasn’t in a very long time. Um. This! Wow. This? This. Yes. It was going to mean staying on the bus a bit longer. All the way to the train station. But I had to. To find out. Who was it by? How was I going to find out? Well. There is a young woman in the row in front. Let me just… ask her. Then there were phones, typing, googling, youtube, and the name of the artist… Mariska. ‘The title is Itserakkausjuttu,’ she said, almost as delighted as me for having helped me find out something that seemed important to me. I showed her this page of our website, and we were talking. Talking, talking, talking… all the way to the train station. Lengthenting the trip for J, but um. The song. I now had it. Which was exactly the nut I needed, in order to secure an important kind of bolt. Let me elaborate, to try to clarify what I mean. Hm, how shall I put it. Okay, here it goes…
All summer I’d been wondering what to write to take away from Finland, what to post, what to blog, what to publish, what to eZine, what to put into the whole set of printed pieces that will be sent by post this weekend. And then, with the song, something important happened. The pieces were there, the collection was ready, the channel of the bolt was carved, the bolt had been placed. Everything was loosely there, but the last bit was missing. The nut. The nut that tightened it all; the song was that nut. The aesthetics of this book and this song were importantly aligned. (That was my gut feeling; and as you know, if you read this blog, you know it’s from the gut that I move.)
A collection begins
THE BOOK, the summer, the story, the collection S P A C E || Finland. With this new little piece of a happened-upon sound clip, the aesthetics of Kesärakkausjuttu and accompanying pieces were now set.
A Summer Love Story is the name of our piece.
Hers is called Itserakkausjuttu, which translates by my bus companion in front who helped me find it as ‘A kind of love story.’
The nature. The calming.
These things: all of these things were swimming about in the brain, and then we wrote some stories with Alexis Jokela, and then we printed a few of those and shared them in Oulu and here in Kärsämäki at a short series of conversation parties called Hei Kesä. Testing things. Why not talk about summer and happy things, we were challenged, instead of melancholic depressing ones?
TALKING TOGETHER, working out the story, sharing in small snippets, testing, translating some of these, sharing those, limited editions, hidden chapters, Rated R things, stuff like that. All of it is part of the summer of Atelier S P A C E, writing, deigning, exploring, conversing, connecting, and discovery. It’s always that, but this was the first time we had expanded it to three full months, and not interwoven Atelier S P A C E with any other DK project. So that meant, focus. And concentration. And hopefully, a work of…. Art.
CUTUP. Those who know DK know that a big part of the zines made here are from the cutting-up of magazines, especially womens’ magazines. Why? I hate that these magazines try to tell us a story about what women ought to be into or how we ought to look. So when I google translated the song that I’m talking about and found a few lines about exactly that, I knew for sure I had hit on the right piece to listen to while editing the whole collection these next few days before leaving Finland. These are the lines, and the full Finnish lyrics are below. Thanks, Mariska!
Let’s see the women’s magazines again How bad and bad I am Although not true at all I wondered, “what’s wrong …” … I like my life I enjoy my skin…
Olen vihdoinkin käsittänyt sen Mä oon fiksu ja kivannäköinen Kaiken hyvän todellakin ansaitsen Mitä tielleni sattuu Helppo muista on kyllä välittää Mut itteänikin mun täytyy silittää Lupaan täst edes aina yrittää Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu
Voi heittaajat sanoo mitä tahansa Ei se mua liikuta, pitäkööt vihansa Mut se mist aiheutuu vahinkoo on Jos mä en itelleni frendi oo Jo kiistatta oon paras minä Ja muihin mä en vertaa mua enää ikinä, hä! Tää on luultavasti sullekin tuttuu Sitä itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu
Naistenlehdistä lukea taas saan Miten väärin ja huono olenkaan Vaikkei totta se ole ollenkaan Mietin vaan “mitä vittuu…” Mikä mussa on muka nurinpäin Vaikka pärjäilen hyvin juuri näin? Suosittelen sinullekin ystäväin Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu
Tykkään itestäni Viihdyn mun nahois Mä väsyn jumittamaan Fiiliksis pahois En dissaa vaan kehun ja kiitän Kyl kelpaan jos tälleen mä riitän Oon kritisoinut mua jo aivan tarpeeks Teen sovinnon ja annan itelleni anteeks Onni alkaa siit mihin ankaruus loppuu Kaikki tarvii itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu Itserakkausjuttuu…
DK’s roving, popup zinemaking atelier S P A C E will be sharing ‘Slow Moment,’ a new photozine, on that day, in real life.
FINNISH SUMMER. What we are doing zining in Finland is a different story, but what’s ahead for July is this. DK is in sketching phase with possible co-creators to make: a set of three mini-workshops to bring the zine experience to the public spaces in this small town. ‘This is a zine,’ DK are saying to people we are meeting. ‘Let’s try making one?’ DK’s Dipika Kohli–a former journalist, a graphic designer, and all around improviser–is hosting. After arriving and getting a sense of this place and what we want to do here, DK are in good conversation streams with: Kärsämäki retailers, its local library, and an artist co-operative where we are being hosted this summer. (Zinemaking: like we were doing in Singapore, but way, way lower key. You learn from the past things, right?)
Top: Ahead is the Atelier S P A C E | Kärsämäki project. Bottom sequence: In the past, DK have hosted zine popups and shows in Singapore, Durham NC USA, and Chiang Mai. Photos by DK and OMNI Studiophotos.
CONTENT. How to make a zine, how to rediscover real life, how to enjoy new conversations with people you haven’t met before (or have, but haven’t seen in a while, or have seen but have never spoken to–adjusting this for small-town life), how to enjoy the process of being offline and cutting, pasting, folding, drawing, and how to experience a new media form are all part of the unfolding series. We are jazzed about this jam. A zine. Is new. To a lot of people, where we go. But a zine. Is simple. To make.
‘HELLO SUMMER.’ The summer series, ‘Hei Kesä,’ will gather, we hope, both younger people and young-at-heart people and interconnect the community in a new way. It’s going to be different, for sure, from our past ateliers, and that’s exactly why we’re excited. A full month to prepare. Zines to make, every day, in the meantime. Articles to post to the people who have already pre-ordered the photozine we will create from this town, S P A C E | Kärsämäki. (Read more and support this project, when you pre-order S P A C E | Kärsämäki here.)
Or be a part of it from a distance, when you pre-order a copy of the photozine. You’ll have access to the online forum S P A C E | ‘Slow Moment’ between now and the end of July, when you do.
EXPRESSIONS. Developing new voices has been our work until this point in time at DK. Now we are exploring our own. Designing space for new and different others to find remarkable connexion. But how? Practicing our way towards the answers. Or… the questions. What are yours? Comments are open, for now.
Update: This is a repost from 2018, when we were first getting started in S P A C E. The continuations we allude to have come in the form of a six-set pack of our newer zines, in a series called ‘Uncertainty.’ When science fiction crosses with near-future scenarios imagined as we are also investigating big questions (metaphilosophy, metaphysics), another world can open. Many worlds, in fact. This is our launch point for a new query. Together, with our community of friends and subscribers, in S P A C E.