Soft Manifesto is a collaborative process of weaving language into space. During the first Grasp Festival in Musicon, Roskilde (2021), participants came together in a winter school for one week to research, write and make a soft installation which describes their approach for softness. Participants learned and explored the translation of concepts from word-based communication of ideas to a material-based spatial language, through the arrangements of fabrics and knots on a spiral grid.
Softness as a form of resistance to current norms offered the thematic base for discussion and the main approach to the design of the indoor pavilion. When the norm might be to equate toughness with strength, we wanted to suggest that being soft is stronger. When the norm might be to celebrate the heroic individual, we wanted to suggest that the mutual bonds between people and more than people are central to our survival. When the norm might be progress, we wanted to suggest a shift towards scaling down and maintaining that which we already have.
Weaving became a central metaphor connecting thinking to making - being the first binary system of communication, we looked at examples from indigenous cultures of recording systems based on knots, strings, connections that were made in fabric and rope to convey counting and narrating. At the same time we were making laces together, cutting them to length and taping their edges, to use for the letters of the manifesto.
Each letter has a three color combination that’s wrapped in laces around the fabric of the pavilion, and we sat down to cut the fabrics and to make the laces together in blue, pink and red. While we were lacing and cutting and writing in different groups, we were also discussing what we think the space should feel like and what kind of experience the visitors might have, what kind of message we might want to convey with this space we co-create.
The frame of the pavilion provided a grid or a loom frame, a system or a canvas for the weaving of the soft manifesto into the space, in a collaborative process with the students. The first intention was to host public events in the pavilion, and to extend the material and knotting research as visitors come to decode the manifesto and read it. In collaboration with the students of the Roskilde Festival Hojskole we went through a learning process which blurred the thinking and making parts into each other - we laced, as we wrote, we edited as we cut, we spoke as we rolled, folded, placed, made tea. We happened to be a group
of women, and we often listened to music sang by other female voices. We felt fluid in our making, not bounded or constrained by anything but that which we chose to give our attention to.
Ana, Garance and Gilly were the women of Soft Agency softly leading the process with Marie-Luisa, Sara, Ida, Freja, Frida, Lea, Eline and Eline made up the Hojskole group.
Through the days, spending the time in the space together, the concepts of softness, opaqueness and spectral thinking took on practical and applied forms, as we contemplated propositions towards a softer form of social relations, or how to make softness the norm?
and Sara Olander Lauridsen, Marie-Luisa Nierade, Lea Kirstine Kejser, Ida Skøttergaard, Frida Rud Faber, Freja Thonke, Eline Rasmussen, Eline Aaris, Christina Flyvholm, Jeppe
With the support of GRASP Festival.
Text : Soft Agency
Photo credits : Garance Maurer, Soft Agency