Autumn efforts

Time passes quickly, faster and faster the older you get, they say. Suddenly I noticed I have not recorded anything here in August and September, nothing since my time in Eckerö residency in July. Yes, I have written something about the events and exhibitions related to the project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees on the project blog, but what about everything else? Well, the most spectacular change this autumn has been the possibility to spend some time in Stockholm again, and I have decided to keep my small flat at least for one more year. If I spend two weeks a month in Stockholm, it makes sense. And yes, I have learned to travel to Stockholm the hard and relatively more climate friendly way, taking an early morning train to Turku harbour and then the day boat over to Stockholm, and vice versa. It takes a lot of time, and it is rather horrible to be mainly stationary on the ship for a whole day, but it is doable. From Stockholm I participated in CARPA 7 – elastic writing in artistic research and even held a small workshop next to a beautiful plane tree outside the Royal Library, right next to where I live. And it worked rather well, despite the rain. Speaking of conferences, I had the exciting experience of visiting Grenoble, in person or should I say in body, for a conference organised by the ResCam (Research Creation) network on the theme of temporality in artistic research. To travel again after the long Covid break seemed almost surreal, as was listening to a conference in French, where I could understand only single words, occasionally, and the references if people had Powerpoints to support their talks. The trip was nevertheless inspiring in many ways. I do hope to be able to visit Grenoble again. Besides these conferences, and an online talk in the context of the exhibition New Nature in St Petersburg, I have been teaching again, a little bit, for instance a lecture on performativity for students in photography. The two courses I am teaching, a doctoral seminar with Mika Elo at Uniarts Helsinki and a research preparatory online course with Synne Berndtson at SKH, Stockholm University of the Arts, have both begun in September and will continue all autumn. It is truly refreshing to engage in some conversations about “basics”, the things one tends to forget or take for granted after a while.
What prompts me to write an update right now, is the ending of the two summer exhibitions I have participated in. First the Artists’ Island on Harakka, which was easy to take down, because I had only to bring the TV and player from the library back to my studio downstairs. The video stills printed on aluminium shown in the Öres exhibition on Örö Island will be slightly more cumbersome to transport home. The real work, however, in terms of carrying, that I finished yesterday, was emptying the attic on Harakka (see image above). This has to be done before the end of October, and I realised I might not be in town in time before the ferry boat stops running on 24 October so better to do it now. I did it a little bit at a time, on three consecutive days, and now my whole theatrical past is back in my studio in the form of bags and suitcases filled with directing manuscripts, uhuh. I have labeled the bags so I can see which productions are where, but that does not help very much in deciding what to do with all the material. As always, the question is, should it go to the archive (for example the theatre museum) or to the dump? Right now the suitcases and bags are in a sort of limbo, waiting for their final destiny. But at least they are not abandoned and automatically destroyed when the attic is cleaned. The only thing I threw away, were synthetic textile materials that have served as some kind of curtains or the like, and I could not see why anybody would want to use them for anything, and then the wooden support structures that were built to keep the four small monitors in place under the glass table for the installation Rock Triangles 1 twenty years ago. Unfortunately the old Harakka artists webpages are gone, replaced with new and fancy ones, so the images of the old work ar gone, too. Luckily something remains on the research catalogue, here.
One more reason to write a note is my experience of joining a demonstration to support the Finnish extinction rebellion movement Elokapina, as part of a group of researchers. I ended standing in the front line with a banderol saying Researchers Rebel for Life and the same in Finnish for 90 minutes or so. When the police called for the gathering to disperse, we grown-ups quickly stepped aside, and tucked away the banderols. I was almost grateful that the police finally interrupted us, tired of standing and hurried home. The youth sitting on the street stayed to be arrested and transported away in two busses. I am still overwhelmed by the experience, how easy and natural it felt to be standing there, and how it was not at all as scary nd embarrassing as I had imagined. It seemed quite possible to contribute to the event and support the demands of the young activists without crossing the line, without breaking the law myself. Of course you could see that as a cowardice of sorts, but I prefer to congratulate myself for the courage to take the first step and to show up. Although I do not personally know what actually should be done, I trust the many environmental researchers and climate activists who say that the tools and solutions are there, they only need to be implemented by political decisions.
Now I am leaving these considerations for a week, returning to Örö to take down my images, and possibly to make new ones, as well as to visit my old pine friends on the island, the pine next door, which is not next door to the residency house but close to the house I lived in last January, and then the pine on the shore that I speak with in Swedish. All my encounters with both of them are documented as still images here. I also hope to meet some new pines for the series Wind Pines, which I began during my last visit. But that is already another story…

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