A psychogeography of Kyiv

by Erik Zambrano | 2 May 2020 | Posted in: Inspiration

For the psychogeographer, a walk is just the starting point; wandering and getting lost within a city is always the real goal. This wandering, termed dérive or ‘drift’ by Guy Debord and the Situationist International in 1950s Paris, must be aimless, without agenda or sense of purpose whatsoever. Allow yourself to let your mind wander as you wander and wonder as you wonder: ‘How did I manage to end up all the way over here?’. By not having a plan in mind, you permit yourself to enter a liminal space with the urban environment, the benefits of which were first espoused by the 19th century figure of the flâneur, a person who walks the city to experience it. When experiencing the city in this liminal space, you enter into a conversation with the urban condition. It isn’t about discovering but rather about revealing.

What does Kyiv reveal? I’ve walked its avenues, streets and alleyways for years now and have kept a journal of my many dérives. All I can say is this:

‘Kyiv is a city // is a city with visible places
is a city of hidden spaces // is a city of hidden spaces
in visible places…’
Kyiv dérive #29 (excerpt)
23rd September 2017

All of the above was the starting point to designing a bespoke cultural excursion for the over 40 participants who joined us at the Kyiv Bonsai high school festival in January 2020. One of the main considerations in the creation of this psychogeographic walk was to recreate the sense of ‘drifting’ through the city, to have our young theatre artists enter into a conversation with Kyiv city centre through a mix of history, sociology, art and the personal identities and memories woven into the urban space.

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