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Edition #01 - Hidden Stories – University of Copenhagen

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Hidden Stories by Sandra Abegglen

Small pieces of paper, text and thoughts left in places we all need to visit.

This video investigates the hidden stories that can be found in places we all need to visit. Stories about lost love, sex and the last night out. Hate, boredom and joy. Stories whose authors we will never know - the gentleman in the business suit, the old lady with the huge handbag or the teenage girl with the pink hair.

These messages - scribbles, stickers and art works - are private messages left in public spaces. There is neither a sender who makes himself or herself known nor an addressee who officially deciphers or decodes the message. Nevertheless, people communicate with each other through these messages. They write, draw, read and re-write. Sometimes, there are whole conversations. Other times, there is only a sign.

This way of communication could be seen as a physical micro blogging in the manner of Twitter. On one side, there are the tweeters, the ones leaving the messages on the walls. On the other side, there are the followers who have obviously not subscribed to the feed, but to the place. This means that the public toilet functions as a sharing platform that provides a certain amount of anonymity, but also publicity. In this location, messages are like bottles thrown into the ocean in the hope that they are washed ashore and found by someone.

As such, the left messages connect people who have missed meeting, actors visiting the same place at different times. As a consequence, the stories construct a collective memory beyond individual time. As Ritchie (1994:vii) states, 'each telling of the story becomes a rehearsal for the next telling, embedding it all the firmer in one's mind'. This means that the stories become a shared identity carried by the people visiting the same location. As such, these messages feel strange and nevertheless so well known. They represent the extraordinary in our everyday life.


Ritchie, D.A., 1994. Foreword. In Memory and History: Essays on Recalling and Interpreting Experience. Lanham: University Press of America, pp. v-ix.

Music by The Eternity Ward, Bippy

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