Revisiting the site of the Year of the Snake

Today, 4th of February, the coldest day in Helsinki this year, so far, I finally got a ride with Saara in her buster to get to the island, in order to record the last revisit to the sites of the video series Animal Years, performed weekly on the island during the years 2002-2014. The start was early, Saara would return to the island after taking her girls to school, at 8.45. and that time we were at the shore waiting for her, three older guys, craftsmen working on the island, and me. It was such an easy crossing with a good motorboat compared to my usual manner of rowing – well, usual, when did I row across the last time, several months ago, I guess. My small old boat Korento (a type of dragonfly) was already lying upside down on the cliffs expecting ice, hah! Anyway, it was great to get up early, even though I had to abandon my yoga practice etc. And I waited for the sun to start warming a little before getting out to the shore, closer to noon. The last of the Animal Years that I performed on Harakka was year of the snake (2013-2014), and the site was the aspen tree growing on the site of the old sauna, which later has become a place for making fire safely.
When I came to the island at the end of the 1990’s two aspen trees were growing near the shore and I could fasten my hammock between them. When I chose the place as the last site in my series of performances for camera on the island, only one of them was standing, the other one consisted of a few pieces of distorted trunk on the ground. So, I used a swing rather than a hammock. Now, when revisiting the site six years later, not a trace of the other tree was there any longer, but the first one was still going strong and had a lifebuoy ring hanging from it. I decided not to start playing with the small blue swing – which I still have in my studio – but to sit on the shore where the broken trunk parts used to be. I have a different camera today, with a different lens, so the framing would in any case not be exactly the same. And I did not sit there for long but left the camera to record the view on its own and returned only after twenty minutes to start it again, 21 minutes is the limit it can take at a time. I needed plenty of material, because the original installation version is 36 minutes long. See here.
I walked around the western shores and looked at all the small changes and tried to keep warm. This was the last revisit, and for our “Grande finale” with the HTDTWP (How to do things with performance) project I will make a compilation of them. This was the last visit in the sense of the last recording I have planned and decided to do, for now. I often think that my studio on Harakka is an unnecessary luxury for me these days, when I spend my time in Stockholm or travelling or anywhere else except there. But when I come back here, I always feel like changing my habits and begin to work here properly. And now that could be possible, actually. To add a real celebratory note to this glorious day of sunshine and cold (finally) I had an email bringing me the news that i had received a working grant for my upcoming project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees. I hardly dared believe my eyes, and when I walked on the cliffs, I slowly began to realise that it was true. So, now I could really devote myself to working here, except that the idea with the project is to go out and meet remarkable and unremarkable trees where they happen to grow, which is not necessarily on this island. Anyway, I am happy and grateful and still slightly overwhelmed…


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