Cambridge oddity

A multilingual and multinational project in Cambridge.

Elke Papp, an austrian writer and performance artist, has recently launched the project.

Having arrived here in october 2008, heavily pregnant with her second son, she has been thinking all those two years – while pushing her pushchair, or being in one of the many toddler groups, (about) how to act out artistically being a partner of a fellow in Cambridge and how to make others act out their follower’s experiences.

Finally, she started sharing her ideas with other followers who are full of ideas themselves. And here we are: a small group of creative followers, getting to know each other and each other’s personal Cambridge through brainstorming our concerns and wishes about Cambridge, each one in her own style.

Every now and then we manage to leave our fellows and families and come together in a pub to discuss next steps.

Feel free to join us and share ideas with us!

The idea is to give a view of Cambridge through the eyes of the ones living there but not really belonging to the place : the ones who followed a husband/wife (very rare !) or a partner. Well educated and often with kids, they mainly stay at home, sometimes work at home or look for work. They are almost completely ignored by the university and know places their husbands/wives or parners often don’t know. They may not stay for ever in this town, but the ones who go are replaced by the same kind. Can their point of view, not only be heard, but also enrich a city, which value its multinational and multilingual identity ?


Are we a new race?

Or to say it more politely

a new ethnicity?

or just a random mass of individuals (mostly female) living here living there

pushing those who belong to us or pulling them behind us

waiting for the one we belong to come home from work (work we usually
don’t know a lot about in a place we usually don’t go a lot we usually get
invited to once a year to get a place at a long table next to the one we

like all the others all over the world do?

are we to be seen as a global phenomenon or as isolated individuals
spread all over the globe

are we a side effect of the big effect that those we came with have on the city

or are we just freaks like those who we followed who can’t live within
the frame their countries puts them into

a minority? (respected, cared for,….)

has anybody ever mentioned that we are the city!

that the streets would be empty if all of us had left at once!

we are legal alliens

most welcome!

to stay and to leave soon

are we a new globe trotting tribe

or are we just dancing the dna-dance we are destinated to

following the one who feeds us

it is outrageous to call us the new diaspora

as nobody and nothing chased us out of our countries

beside the fear of losing the one who then perhaps still didn’t have to
feed us if we didn’t follow him wherever to

being fed up having a long distance love for all of our lives and
deciding to follow, have a family and be fed instead

we are no political refugies

we haven’t been threatened there where we come from

we are looking for a shelter though


aren’t we just first class travelers?

do we and those we followed and are fed by belong to an own class?

looked up and down to…

some start to like us to stay here

some don’t care as long as we don’t leave earlier than they do

to a new place where all of us have to find new friends anyway

are we friends one to each other?

with some we make friends as if we’d stay together forever

some we only meet when they are already leaving

we learn their names and the name of the place they are moving to at once

some of them show us a place or tell us a phrase we will never forget

lots of them are from a place we have never been to

some want to leave and can’t

others don’t want to but have to

all depends on the one we depend on who depends on the ones who also depend on

lots of us change houses more than one time

our complaints are not ending

only the contracts

some came here just for a couple of years (just for the PhD come on!)
and are still here

now being one of those couples that came here just for a couple of years…

do we want to go back?

is the life we left waiting for us there where we left it?

or has it changed address anyway?

Elke Papp


About Genevieve Guetemme

art & research
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