Saturday, February 21, 2015

Kaisaleena Halinen

The autumn and spring have been busy around here, with many changes occurring and new opportunities appearing in sight, so I have a somewhat good reason to keep my silence for a few months. For those wondering, new adventures await this tea-addicted jack-of-all-trades and master-of-everything-and-nothing if all goes well.

But, beside those small news, this post is about a good friend and one of my rather unofficial mentors who I got to know when I started to work as the studio supervisor for the open university a couple of years back. Kaisaleena Halinen, a Finnish sculptor who graduated from Kuvataideakatemia (the present Art University of Helsinki) and who works in my university among a couple of other sculpting teachers for both the degree students and the open university students. Amidst the chaos of teaching the daytime and evening courses, this particular lady has expanded my knowledge on the possibilities of three-dimensional thinking in sculpting, as well as teaching me new skills like how to make proper silicon molds and so on. The elephant cube exhibited at 'The Red Elephant' is one result of those evenings spent over mixing blob A into gloob B and stirring like no tomorrow, and then patiently drilling the basics of casting mechanisms into this blonde head.

In any case, just so that this writing doesn't turn into random ramblings, I give you a small glimpse on what kind of artist are we actually discussing about by focusing on the exhibition that Kaisaleena is currently having in Gallery Ama here in Helsinki. First of all, she is an intriguing mixture of contemporary art philosophy and tradition of sculpting. The impression that is given is that she experiments, tests out her ideas relentlessly, masters materials with enviable perseverence and has a goal of not to invent the wheel for the second time but to make it even better than before. Using space and toying with both the feel and look of the material could be thought to be the main interests in her works, as well as the subtle communicating with the viewer, pushing the one looking taking on different viewing angles and coming up with different ideas instead of serving a menu where every ingredient is sorted out and blatantly exposed. She makes an effort both in thinking of her works as well as creating them, which shows the best in the smallest details.

As it goes for yours truly, some people have it bad for details. That's why the following photos are focusing on them instead of the space the works were put into or the whole art pieces, as I am hoping that perhaps these pictures tweak your curiosity enough to take a walk on a nice day and stop by in the gallery, feel for yourself how the 'Strange fruit' sends shivers down your spine accompanied with morbid curiosity tempting to touch, or step into the red-luminated circle of 'Sacrifice' and feel the weight of the world for a fleeting moment yet spot the light that may represent hope, or maybe the dimming light of sense in the era of senseless, contemplate over the fisting hands of 'Defiance' and 'Hold (self-portrait)' whether or not they pull or push, resist or play childish games, and how the smallest details make them matter.

How the texture of the used material does, indeed, make a difference.

Uhma / Defiance  2015
betoni, kangas / concrete, fabric

Ote (omakuva) / A Hold (self-portrait)   2015
silikoni, kipsi, kangas / silicone, plaster, fabric

Golden Cave   2015
tuohi, lyöntimetalli, balsapuu

Liputuspäivä / Flag day  2015
betoni, puu, tekohius / concrete, wood, artificial hair

Kaisaleena Halinen 7.2.-1.3.2015
Gallery Ama
Rikhardinkatu 1

Monday, September 15, 2014

William Dennisuk - Hidden Variables

As many have pondered and discovered, when it comes to growing up, the first source for information are the senses with which an individual observes and situates oneself into the surrounding world which does its best to overwhelm our thoughts and bodies with its remarkable diversity of beings and phenomena. Whether the said information is gathered by looking, tasting or touching, or merely by reading, the objective for the act is nearly always the desire to make sense to what it is that the individual is experiencing, satisfying the curiosity that gives the impulse for the aforementioned actions. For teachers, nurturing the innate drive for trying out how things work in the reality that is around us is one of the biggest challenge when it comes to children and teenagers, as the older an individual becomes, the more subdued the curiosity grows to be since the flow of the information narrows down into more accurate, more abstract and more defined by the demand of knowing what is considered important instead of having space for vague understanding, tolerance for blind areas and humility to admit that nothing is certain and invariable when it comes to the bizarre structures we call society, science and culture. For centuries, side by side with the thriving inventions of science, artists have strived to understand and communicate with the said uncertainty of certainty and its many hidden layers, as well as providing new ways to unveil them for the seeing eye..and the gentleman who has become the subject of this post serves a menu that tickles the taste for that.

Twofold, 2014

With his works, William Dennisuk approaches many questions of being and perceiving by creating a space which gives an impulse that ignites the spark of curiosity from the very first step taken over the gallery's threshold. As the artist himself explains, his goal is not to explain comprehensively what his thoughts are regarding the duality of the tactile and the visual experience, but to offer a viewpoint from which the viewers can construct their own connections to the works on display. The large forms that were brought into the gallery are based on objects that the artist had studied with the idea of vessels: objects within objects, layers that are hidden beneath multiple others and sometimes even on plain sight yet unseen in their nakedness and dynamic nature. It is notable that the idea of the vessel can be connected to the flesh of a body, as the terms and the forms soon enough interlace with each other and acquire new meanings, new reflections into which one can get immersed should they choose to. The size and the material of the forms encourages the bodily experience, as one gets drawn closer to see, to feel what it is that is shown and which seems to dodge the sharpness of the gaze, as well as the categorizing mind. Funnily enough, the artist was right in his guess that everyone will be poking and patting his works, as that was exactly what happened with our small band of curious minds, amidst the constant circling around and peeking both through and inside the works.

As for yours truly, the shifts between the blur and sharp visual focus, the momentary deception of the eye as well as the beautiful play of natural light and the living shadows it created were the essence of the experience that gave the understanding on what the artist refers to when he borrows the words of Niels Bohr on how in order to truly speak about atoms, the only choice would be to use the language as in poetry. Delightfully, Dennisuk has embraced the lyrical approach on both the tactile and abstract language, as not only do the works actively persuade the mind to discuss with them, but the titles of the pieces weave the final knots to the web that is left for the curious to unravel.

Dual, 2014

William Dennisuk - Hidden Variables
Gallery Sculptor
From 12th to 28th of September
Tue-Fri 11-17
Sat-Sun 12-16

Friday, September 12, 2014

View on what has been and is yet to be said

KIM SIMONSSON: 'The golden lying dear' (ceramics, glass, gold), 'The Invisible Hand' (photograph)

Along the Fall many things occur, such as the continuation of the thesis, starting the evening works and furthermore, most importantly, getting into situations and places that are popping up as the nights begin to darken again. This post gives a small view on the exhibitions yours truly bumped into, all of them sadly being in the past already when this text is typed, but what are still considered worthy of mentioning despite the unfortunate fact. First of all, the autumn season in the gallery Sculptor has begun and during the Helsinki Festival Weeks the audience was presented with an exhibition by Kim Simonsson, a renowned Finnish sculptor whose somewhat of a trademark are frail-looking, still figures of children, with defined gender or not. The materials he uses are ceramics, glass, metal and a plethora of different paints and glazes, only to mention a few, and the characteristics of said figures do remind the viewer of Asian pop culture, especially manga and the sleek, highly visualized images of industrialized celebrities. On the other hand, beneath the cold, white and polished surfaces, they do refer to the macabre absurdity of what is nowadays culture and society.

The next mentionable exhibition caught the eye by accident and turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Jussi Twoseven is an artist who's not overly familiar but who seems like worth knowing better, and who provided a good overview on what one can do with stencils when they have discovered their way of making a mark, and whose works made me yet again ponder on my own thoughts regarding the juxtaposition of public and private, legal and illegal, visual and tactile. Street art, as one could say as the definition of this certain genre, has always been somewhat puzzling to myself when seeing it used in a gallery, as the ones I've encountered are either photographs depicting and commenting certain things happening in the city, or massive paintings done with the same methods that are used on the streets, or, when lucky, works that are really commenting the provided space itself. In a sense I have never quite understood why the transformation of a graffiti suddenly into a painting that is available for purchase makes me unease, why the change of environment affects me so.

JUSSI TWOSEVEN: ROar27, spraypaint and acryl on mdf, 310X270 cm

It could be that being a rather site-specifically inclined person myself, seeing something surrounded by a clean and profit-inclined ambiance rather than spotting the thing amidst a place that is full of both visible and audible cacophony and sometimes takes a moment to see makes the whole object seem a bit out-of-place. This doesn't mean that the gallery space is ill-suited for graffiti and such, on the contrary the contradictions and such are always welcome to appear and happen. As it is, the art scene always takes the ideas in both ways, from the institutionalized art scenes to the borderline illegal works that happen in the public space that is more or less controlled and restricted in the sense of who it is designed for, so seeing graffiti in a gallery isn't really worth of wasting the breath on a superficial personal dilemma. For instance the gallery called Make your mark has a valuable place within the art scene, as they combine anarchy and creativity with the always delightful question of what is and isn't appropriate and legal by enhancing the gallery space in their use. In any case, the exhibition causing this tiny ramble did actually manage to erase some of the lurking scepticism concerning graffiti-turned-into-painting, and maybe even assure me that there's no danger of street art losing its edgy and sharp-minded character in the world of art markets, no matter how much only certain artists get the praise that all of them rightfully deserve. Plus the perhaps unintended reference towards Rorschach tests did make a smirk appear onto this lady's face.

The third party of this passed trio was, actually, the one that made my day. A spatial, tactile and prosaic experience was created as Ilona Valkonen, Tinttu Henttonen and Marjo Niemi combined their creative skills and took over Forum Box during the Helsinki Festival Weeks. I've always enjoyed seeing the exhibitions in Forum Box, as the space itself is just amazing to enter, the high walls and subtle light both expanding and enclosing around oneself, and I was more than happy to note that the said artists had indeed embraced the space with their works. Not to mention getting one's quota on ropes and knots was the best bit for yours truly, as it gave pleasure I didn't even know I had craved for for the past hectic months. The way the paintings were presented did also press all the right buttons within me, as the structures of the paintings were made visible and put to use, but also how they had put thought into the lumination of the works. The shifts between floating and being tightly tied down, almost as if both preventing and protecting, the ways how the gaze was directed from one point to another, one could find themselves immersing into their world and feeling reluctant to let go, not to touch the canvas, the subtle colors, the ropes, the words that poured from Marjo's pen as she stepped inside the lines, in between the lines and even throwing them to the reader with her poetic prose, walking right on the heels and making one see the unseeable.

ILONA VALKONEN: To Gabriele Basilico: Can I leave my bike in front of your Beirut?

Ropes by Tinttu Henttonen.


ILONA VALKONEN, TINTTU HENTTONEN: part of a larger installation.
ILONA VALKONEN, TINTTU HENTTONEN: parts of a larger installation.

But, as Monthy Python would put it, the next post is something completely different.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bands of Arms - Hamina Tattoo 2014

As the heatwave hit Helsinki and our apartment building decided that it was an appropriate time to turn into a greenhouse due to facade renovations done to it, this lady packed her bags, charged the camera, hoisted the laptop in its satchel and took the direction far, far, far the hell away from all the racket and splendid cacophony resembling dubstep gone horribly wrong that occurs when the drill hits concrete. Murder was becoming a justified option to placate my eardrums. Not that yours truly is all foreign to the infernal odes of men and machinery as working in construction sights is familiar, but when not working at the sight one rarely wants to have anything to do with it. Hence the swift escape away from Helsinki.

The grand tour went via the exhibition of William Kentridge that's currently happening in EMMA, Espoo Museum of Modern Art (a gorgeous experience to re-acquaint myself with at some point) to Turku. There, beside writing the thesis, I found myself seeing the past capital in a different light. Wandering through the nature preservation areas, by the sea-sides, and seeing the old architecture that I haven't even considered to exist in that city, made the heart grow fonder towards the place. Not to mention strolling down the well-known river-side of the river Aura and watching the swallows fly above our heads while enjoying tea on the balcony were the perfect little cherries turned into jam and eaten on a toast with some good Woojeon on the side. In any case, if you haven't visited the small city yet, I dare you to.

But, as the title of this post tells, this text isn't about the wonders of Western Finland, but the festivities that happen in a tiny town with circular city plan in Eastern Finland. Namely Hamina, the town where this lady grew up to be what the legends tell nowadays and where just last summer I had a co-exhibition with a dear friend. Growing up in a town where the constant presence of the Finnish Defence Forces is part of everyday life gives its own impact on, say, how one carries herself, how one likes to dress up remarkably like an officer (and has the presence of one to boot) and, as it goes for this post, grows to enjoy military music.

Hamina Tattoo, as some could think, has nothing to do with having some ink put on the skin for creating an image of a busty pin-up holding a flag with written hommage to anyone deserving having their name associated with scantily dressed women, but with bands of men and women playing the march music, symphonies and their most popular music pieces under their country's flag while wearing uniforms under the hot sun. The event was started in 1990, when a few active members of the military, music circles and travelling agencies decided to put their heads together and create something that would bring life to the sleepy harbor city and at the sime time honor the history of Hamina, which is a town that was founded on active army working there. The only things that I can remember from those early days of this festival that came to be, is that the first times were held in a huge hall in the harbor and seeing the Chinese military band, the sight of their fire red uniforms and yellow accent colors being etched in the memory of the little girl sitting and staring at the soldiers in the audience.

The Guards Band, Finland

In any case, despite the time passing and the society changing around us, the tradition still holds its ground and has now grown into a full week of festivities celebrated throughout the town. During the years, certain nations have established their role as the backbone of the festival, namely the American, British, Russian and German bands that visit Hamina Tattoo when they have the opportunity to do so, as well it has become a custom to have a few other bands from different countries each time, not to mention presenting the bands of the Finnish Defence Forces, such as the bands from the Navy, the Air Forces and so on. Beside the actual marching shows that present all of the bands visiting Hamina, there have always been concerts held in parks and market squares, so that the inhabitants and the occasional tourists can enjoy the music whenever possible without it being limited only to those willing to pay for the symphonic delights.

This time we had the pleasure to hear music from the spectacular and talented musicians of Heeresmusikkorps Koblenz from Germany, Western Military District Headquarters Band from Russia, The Combined Bands of the Lancashire Artillery and the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment serving the British menu, His Majesty The King's Guard from Norway (not only playing good music, these fellows know how to twirl a rifle while moving in formation), The Japan Ground Self-Defence Force Central Band which is the elite ensemble that usually accompanies the emperor and therefore this was their first time performing in Europe, and, of course, the Finnish bands which were the Guards Band, The Air Force Band, The Conscript Band of the Finnish Defence Forces, The Navy Band, The Lapland Military Band and The Dragoon Band.

Western Military District Headquarters Band, Russia

His Majesty The King's Guard, Norway

The Conscript Band of the Finnish Defence Forces, Finland

The Combined Bands of The Lancashire Artillery and the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, Great Britain

Heeresmusikkorps Koblenz, Germany

The taiko drums belonging to the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force Central Band

Furthermore, not only were there concerts in the park and the actual venue tent designed for the marching shows, this year the organizers surprised the public by managing to engage the old gardens of the old fortress town to the festival as well, giving an opportunity to both the bands to play in rather intimate atmospheres in different settings and the townspeople to visit and see the secret sides of the old houses that are part of the town's history. Like so many others, yours truly hopes that the experiment will continue to be developed further, as it was a splendid way to spend the day sitting in the gardens and listening to the music designed to make the sunlight and heat feel a bit more tolerable.

Also, to those doubting if they would like to spend a whole week dedicated to all kinds of marching music and stoic performances of mind-blowing accuracy with rifles and such without going slightly crazy and waking up with Karelia Suite III Alla Marcia ringing in their heads, it's a pleasure to assure that the music played in Hamina Tattoo is never restricted only to militarian aspects of notation and top notch drum solo. The bands are more than eager to show their skills with various ensembles diving into the diversity of both classical and popular music, as was seen and heard during the perfect performance of the japanese music corps conducted by colonel Akira Takeda and by some smaller ensembles of the said band. To the ones curious for what they played, search for the musician Taro Hakase and the song Jounetsu Tairiku. If an opportunity ever arises, do go and hear it for yourselves what it sounds like when eleven military bands are brought into one tiny town for a full week and then being told to go creative.

All being said, the escape tour from Helsinki continues when tomorrow morning in early dawn a certain little lady takes her route towards a certain little town that's located right between Germany and Denmark. But first off, the evening tea is in order.

Monday, May 19, 2014

May - wait, what?

Been a while to post anything here, not to mention even sharing any thoughts to this direction. The sole reason for this mishap is the beginning of the end of our Spring semester at the university, moreover (as my odd natural talents for ending up doing things have it) the more recent excuse being me using the last weeks of the said period as a lecturer's assistant here in our department.

Yet the said new albeit temporary position in the academical hierarchy system isn't, naturally, the only reason as to why I'm lacking in updates on several fields of my choices of interest, the biggest being the thesis. The studies have kept me quite closely tied to themselves in forms of the last pragmatic field periods about which I posted a brief mention in the earlier post, not to mention seeing that I indeed in just couple of weeks will have all the course credits that I need to get myself out from our grand institution lecture-wise as soon as I finally wrap up the Last Essay of Pedagogical Trivia. How I actually managed to find some time to get tied up in a full-body harness for taking photographs for the final work, or baking cookies for a hanami festival picnic for that matter is beyond my common comprehension for now, so I'll just let it pass as some strange loophole in the current warp of dimensions that I'm venturing in.

The springtime has been busy, I admit.

Nevertheless, being busy doesn't mean that it hasn't been fun to play around with, so with this post I'll give you guys a glimpse of what I've been up to the past months.




Saw some pretty neat artist's books the students had made, now my hands are itching to make a couple myself.

TREASURE FROM THE ARCHIVES: in January, a colleague of mine, Roel Meijs, and his friend had a rather secretive spatial sculpture exhibition in a storage warehouse here in Helsinki.

The idea was to send them a reply email to the invitation, after which the visitor received a message with several number series and door numbers, behind which the made works were found. They were all very different, and worked with the space in very intriguing manner, and all in all adventuring in total silence in a huge, dimly lit storage space did make the thoughts wander to an anime series Cowboy Bebop, which might ring a bell for those having seen it for what kind of nicely bizarre ambiance I experienced there. To bump into an old russian lady listening to a radio there was just a cherry on top of that.


It was a large, very beautiful swamp area, and we bumped into dozens of frogs croaking away through the silence.

RECEIVED A PARCEL FROM A FRIEND WHO LIVES IN ALBERSTLUND NEAR COPENHAGEN; we once had a discussion over what kinds of sweets we like, and she decided to send me some Danish delights. Not one to receive without giving, I sent her some quality white teas that had some jasmine in them.

ALSO RECEIVED A PARCEL FROM PATRICIA, only this time with the letter and treats she also sent us origami cranes that now decorate our kitchen wall. We'll be visiting her the coming August again, so be prepared to have yet another post about Flensburg..and perhaps from some other places.

All in all, the summer is near, the research books are waiting, and there's a pot of oolong that has been calling my name for a while now. Maybe next time I can tease you with some snapshots of the shibari sessions we've had regarding the final work that should be given to be evaluated in October. I'll see you guys around.