Story Café
participatory video project, 2004–

Johanna Lecklin has set up her Story Café in different venues in several cities around Europe: Berlin (DE), London (GB), Limerick (IE), Liverpool (UK), Helsinki (FI), Tallinn (EE), Moscow (RU), Kuopio (FI), Brussels (BE), Fribourg (CH), Turku (FI) and Terni (IT).

In Johanna Lecklin’s art project Story Café the visitor gets a free coffee in exchange for a story. The stories are recorded on video. Visitors can also watch videos of earlier stories that are shown in the café. Some of the stories are dramatized into short films. The project started 2004 in Broadway Market in London during a residency at Artsadmin and has been arranged in several art festivals, biennials and group exhibitions in more than ten countries. Lecklin has recorded around 400 stories in her cafés around Europe between 2004 and 2011.

Visitors have been happy to share their stories in front of the camera and watch others’ stories. Lecklin has collected both very personal stories, anecdotes, traditional stories, travelogues and stories overheard on the bus or read on the internet.

Reality TV is today an everyday phenomenon, and it has changed people’s attitudes towards performing publicly. Performances acted out in front of a camera are no longer the privilege of a small minority. The seemingly undirected recording of stories on video is a method that has been used quite frequently in personal documentary films in the 1990s and 2000s, as well as in videos borrowing the narrative devices of the tradition of documentary films.