Who writes history?
Public Educational Tours is a continuous series of guided bus-tours, and a project about history writing.
Our conception of existence and idetity, as well as our visions for the future are lagely defined by our officially documented history. The information recorded here not only documents past events, but also creates and shapes those to come and is consequently an immensly powerful political tool.
As history writing can never be an objective documentation, it is necessarily selections of events based on the documenting individuals, institutions or nations subjective choise. This, in turn, depends upon factors like political and financial interests along with a specifik (traditionally male Western) point of view in terms of religious conviction, national and cultural background, social and educational status, race, gender etcetera…
From this perspective, the representation of the state of affairs in our history-writing cannot really be said to be less fictitious than any other individually conceived interpretation, presented by anyone, and at any given point in time.
P.E.T. – Biographical Tours
Public Educational Tours has presented three biographical guided tours so far. These tours are site-specific in the sense that they are created for a particular city, and are built around a main caracther, through whose life the history of the city in question is being (re-) interpreted.
The tours have a duration of approximately 90 minutes, during which the passengers (the audience) are taken around different relevant sites in and around the city, making frequent stops for refreshments and photo-opportunities. Thus basically following the pattern of the standard guided bustour, these tours differ only in the sense that the main caracthere of the story is fictious – a fact which is not initially announced, but which becomes gradually more obvious to the passengers as the tour and the level of absurdity of the story increases.
The tours are followed by a discussion about subjectivity, documentarism and history writing with those of the passengers who choose to stay behind and participate.
Ultimately, each project is concluded by the installation of a memory plaque over the main caracthere, thus inscribing her in the official history of the city in question.
Tickets and information about the tours are being distributed through the tourist information office of the city. Information can also be obtained through different art-institutions and -media, aiming to attract a mix between an art audience, tourists and local citizens.
P.E.T. – Other Tours
Having concluded the series of Scandinavian biographical tours, Public Educational Tours is currently moving on to discussing the concept of history-writing and representation from a number of different angles – still with the guided bus-tour as a tool and a framework.
Public Educational Tours’ very latest arrangement is Blind Tour which took place in Amsterdam in May 2005. Here, the focalpoint has shifted from the representation of historical events to the representation of contemporary events.
As the one is a consequence of the other – and the two are inseparably tied together, Blind Tour can be seen as an attempt to write – rather than re-write – history.