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The proposed project is linked to and reflects on a specific site in Gävle. Valls Hage is a botanical park that covers an area of about 10 hectares near the centre of the city. The park, or arboretum, contains more than 200 different species of tree from all over Sweden, including some rare varieties. Being a part of the city and at the same time mimicking the natural environment, combining a degree of theatricality with some accidents of nature, this place can be seen as a model park, something of a trophy, proudly presenting the diversity of Swedish nature.

Being a public space, a leisure site and a potential platform for scientific research, this place contains a number of meanings and implies quite a wide spectrum of interpretations. One of the most amusing points for me here is the possibility to “read” this space through a dichotomy approach. As Simon Schama put it in his book Landscape and Memory, “there have always been two kinds of Arcadia: shaggy and smooth; dark and light; a place of bucolic leisure and a place of primitive panic.”*

In this project I would like to investigate this ambivalent nature of botanical parks using Valls Hage as a specific example and taking the form of an audio (or sound) walk as a tool for my experiment. Taking the content of the park as my point of departure, I intend to add a fictional narrative that would focus on my thoughts and emotions triggered by this environment. As a result, this audio walk with added effects (sounds one wouldn’t normally hear at Valls Hage) and moments of suspense will meet two goals – to guide listeners through the arboretum and at the same time to engage them in a process of intellectual and emotional response to this particular space.

*Quoted in “On Returning to the Returns”. E-mail conversation between Peggy Phelan and Matts Leiderstam. In Matts Leiderstam, Works 1996–2001, p. 28, Antenna, 2002.