Category Archives: English

Visible and invisible sea

The small exhibition called Näkyvä ja näkymätön meri (Visible and invisible sea) in the former Telegraph and one of the former ammunition cellars celebrates the 30th anniversary of artists (and the Helsinki Centre for Environment) on Harakka Island. It is open until 20 June, only. The outdoor part of my contribution, Windrail II, will remain active for the whole summer. It consist of a simple QR code, on the wall in the Telegraph and on site, attached to the actual rail on the Western shore. The QR code links to a video work recorded by that rail in 2002. I usually prefer to show new works, because I have many that have not been shown anywhere yet. This time I thought this particular video work and especially its voice-over text would be suitable for reminiscing and making the passing of time palpable, too. And it is not available anywhere else.





The QR code leads to a page on this blog, and you can reach it here. The voice over text on the video is in Finnish, the English translation can be read further down on the page.

Meetings with Remarkable Trees – Old Tjikko

As a result of many coincidences I spent a day with Old Tjikko on Fulufjället, the first remarkable tree in a series with the working title ”Meeting with Remarkable Trees” I have planned as a continuation of ”Performing with Plants”. Or perhaps you could call this a pilot study of sorts. But there have been others, like the tree I spent a day with in the rocky cove on Koh Lanta, which became The Tide in Kan Tiang, or the small downy birch on Lofoten, which turned into Rainy Day in Rekdal and Grey Day in Rekdal (with a downy birch) as well as Sunday with a Pine in Nida on the Curonian spit. Compared to them, however, Old Tjikko is a celebrity, and not chosen by me to begin with, but suggested by Camilla Johansson Bäcklund. She contacted me about another work and asked if we could do some ”fieldwork” together, related to her MFA project. I replied that we could perhaps spend a day together with an interesting tree, and she came up with Old Tjikko. I was excited, and also a little scared when she suggested that we sleep in a tent on the mountain, because I have no experience of hiking in the mountains and do not like walking with lots to carry. To my relief she found a place to stay in the nearby village Mörkret (Darkness!), and we could sleep there, get up early and go up to the mountain, find Old Tjikko, spend the day together with it, and return down to the village for the night.
Fulufjället is an amazing place and the walk around the Njupeskär waterfall, the highest in Sweden, is really spectacular. The only trouble was, that we were there off-season. Well, that sounds nice, not too many people, peace and quiet. Yes, but off-season is that for a reason; there was a lot of snow still, melting, so skis or snow-shoes would not work. The paths were hard to find and follow because many of the signs on rocks were covered in snow, or if not, the paths had turned into mountain brooks. This meant that our day had a funny structure. First stress, struggle and hardship to get up to the mountain and find the tree. Then a day of sunshine hanging around recording repeated images with the tree, resting on the spots without snow, covered with lichen, almost blinded and burned by the strong light. And then stress, struggle and hardship to get down again, because we chose the other route around the waterfall. By the time we walked down the hill on the road with midnight approaching. we were so exhausted we could hardly speak. But, it was a great day! The video material recorded is very simple, static, ascetic, a total contrast to the drama before and after its creation. But that is often the case, at least for me. Finding the place is the problem or the hard part. The rest is easy.
Luckily there is quite a lot of video material, and not only experiences, even if they are important, too. I proposed a two-stage process for the editing. First both of us make one channel of a two-channel video out of the material each of us has recorded. Then we invite the other to create the second channel as a response to that work out of her own material. That way we would get two different two-channel videos instead of one collaborative compromise. It remains to be seen if that works and what else can be done. In any case I am grateful for having done this, and happy to have begun my new project almost by accident. To sum up, here is the same story in a few images:










Hanging in a pine tree or appearing with plants

Participating in the performance philosophy biennial Intervention – Intoxication in Amsterdam inspires me to write a brief note about my presentation, titled Hanging in a pine tree or appearing with plants. Most of my blog posts these days are written on my Stockholm blog, and in Swedish, related to the project ”Performing with Plants” at Stockholm University of the Arts. And actually my presentation, performance lecture or video essay in Amsterdam today was directly linked to that project as well. But perhaps because I have not participated in any performance philosophy events since the one in Helsinki related to citizenship many years ago, this occasion seems somehow relevant, inspiring and challenging at the same time. And probably partly because I had and article published in the latest issue of Performance Philosophy Journal, Resting with Pines in Nida – attempts at performing with plants, which I am quite proud of, after all. Other reasons for being excited enough to write this, are the inspiring presentations I have witnessed today, and some of them directly linked to my interests, such as Ingrid Vranken’s performance lecture Rooted Hauntology Coworking lab – being with plants/ infiltration and especially Laura Cull’s paper in the panel Thinking with Non-Human Animals & Autistic People: Intervening in Anthropocentrism and Neuronormativity.
Originally I proposed a performance lecture, and really tried to device one, based on the video Hanging in a Pine, the longer version (19 min 31 sec), which has the perfect duration to fit the 20 minute slot. But I ended up recording all the spoken parts as a voice over, and leaving the mini-projector, which I planned to use to show a distorted image of the swinging version with, as well as the main performative prop, the rather large pine branch, at home. That was probably the right decision; trying to create a performance would have been clumsy and difficult, because of my lack of experience and the setting too – not even the lights could be shifted between the three parts of the session to make the video more visible, so what with an extra cable for electricity for the projector, huh? Thus, showing a mere video essay was OK. But of course that excludes all possibility of including comments to previous contributions or other adjustments to the context. The two other presentations in the same panel were interesting in their own way, particularly the last one, discussing the use of Latour’s idea of the parliament of things as inspiration for a local theatre project involving the North Sea, although the idea of theatricality and representation where not my main concerns. I would have been more interested in discussing the possibility of and difference between performing and appearing. – The video essay form is somehow fascinating and challenging, something to explore further. I still think that the artwork, the videos, like the actual performances that produce the material for them, must be nonverbal, but the possibilities of the video essay, such as including a text that is not only academic, but contains poetic and imaginative parts, are worth exploring further in the future.

Performing with Plants in 2018 – a Summary

Last year about this time I made of summary of my first year with plants, so it seems reasonable to try the same exercise after my second year with plants. If 2017 was sort of a preliminary year, beginning my project at Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, in 2018 my real project at Stockholm University of the arts began. The artistic research project called Att uppträda/samarbeta med växter or Performing with plants is financed by the Swedish Research Council and lasts only two years, so 2019 will be the time to sum up the project. When I look at what I have done during the year 2018, there are not that many publications or events related to performing with plants. One reason is the fact that I am also the PI of the research project How to do things with performance, which is funded by Academy of Finland, and which has taken quite a lot of my time. In many instances I have been able to combine my interests in these two projects, but I nevertheless try to keep them separate. And besides these two research projects I have had quite a few other commitments. Some of them are now finished, so I have more time to concentrate on my main work.
If I think of special events during the year, one surprise at the end of the year, that I really could not anticipate, was the Finnish state prize for multidisciplinary art 2018 info in Finnish and in Swedish, with photo, here
In the following I list some of the things I have done during the year, both ongoing commitments and ones that ended this year. Then I list publications and performances or events, as well as discussions I have participated in, grouped according to project.
Research and other projects in progress
Performing with Plants – Att uppträda/samarbeta med växter. More here and the living archive here
How to do things with performance? – Miten tehdä asioita esityksellä?, a four-year research project funded by the Academy of Finland, with Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha and Pilvi Porkola. More info on the website of HTDTWP with links to blog and living archive on the RC.
Professor of performance, art and theory at Stockholm University of the Arts Research Centre (2018-2019), with presentation here and a blog about my activities in Stockholm called, artisticresearchinstockholm
Visiting researcher at Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts Helsinki.
Member of the Committee for Artistic Research at the Swedish Research Council.
Member of the editorial team of JAR (Journal for Artistic Research),  and of the editorial board of Ruukku – Studies in artistic research.
Commitments that ended this year:
Member of the board of the Norwegian Artistic Research Program (2015-2018)
Member of the Committee for Public Information in Finland (TJNK) 2015-2018.
Member of the Board for Public Display Grants for Visual Artists 2016-2018.
Publications and presentations on performing with plants:
— “Artistic Research as Situated Practice – Performing with Lichen” in José Quaresma (ed.) Investigação em Artes – A necessidade das ideias artísticas / Research in the Arts – The need for artistic ideas, Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa 2018, pp 27-42.
— “Performing with Plants” in Leena Rouhiainen (ed.) Perilous Experience CARPA 5 Colloquium Proceedings, Nivel 09 2018 here
Working With the Vegetal II, seminar at Stockholm University of the Arts, Linnégatan 87 on 29.11.2018
“Artistic Research as Situated Practice – Performing with Lichen”, video lecture at the conference and book release Research in the Arts – the need for artistic ideas,  at Museo Arceologico de Carmo, Lissabon 27. 11.2018
“Performing with plants” in the series Frank Professors, Academy of Fine Arts Exhibition Laboratory, 9.10.2018.
Rainy Day in Rekdal, installation and presentation at the symposium Tanz Der Dinge / Things that dance at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, 5-7.10.2018.
Trees in Victoria. Summer exhibition in the old Telegraph on Harakka Island 3.-12.8.2018.
Working with the Vegetal – seminar at Stockholm University of the Arts , see program  23.5 2018
“Puiden kanssa Helsingin puistoissa” [With Trees in the Parks of Helsinki], presentation at the Finnish Urban Studies Conference, Tieteiden talo [House of Sciences], Helsinki 3-4.5.2018
Video and presentation at Radical Relevances conference, Aalto University 25-27.4. 2018.
Installation of “Rainy Day in Rekdal” and “Grey Day in Rekdal” at the Learning Center of Aalto University during the conference Radical Relevances 25-27.4.2018
Presentation at the open seminar of Research in Arts and Experience at Aalto University 26 .3.2018.
Publications and presentations with the project How to do things with performance:
— Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha and Pilvi Porkola “Miten tehdä asioita esityksellä – tutkimushanke Sao Paulossa” [How to do Things with Performance – the research project in Sao Paulo] in Anna Thuring, Anu Koskinen and Tuija Kokkonen (eds.) Esitys ja Toiseus, Näyttämö ja Tutkimus 7, Teats Teatterintutkimuksen seura 2018, pp 204-214. See here
— Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha and Pilvi Porkola “Regurgitated Perspectives – Performance”. In Geoff Cox, Hannah Drayson, Azadeh Fatehrad, Allister Gall, Laura Hopes, Anya Lewin, Andrew Prior, (eds.) Proceedings of the 9th SAR International Conference on Artistic Research, University of Plymouth, April 11th-13th, 2018, pp. 299-311. See here
— Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha & Pilvi Porkola “How to do things with performance in relation to what is given?”. In Ruukku Journal issue 8 (voices) 2018. See here
— Arlander, A. (2018). The Shore Revisited. Journal of Embodied Research, 1(1), 4 (30:34). DOI:
“Let’s talk about performance! IV” Conversations on performance art with professors Gavin Butt and Tero Nauha at Huuto gallery, see information, on 17.11. 2018.
“Revisiting the Rock”, presentation at Research Day III: Performance Pedagogy  at University of the Arts Theatre Academy, see cfp and programme here, on 16.11. 2018.
“How to do things with performance in alliance with things, concepts, bodies or plants?”, performance with HTDTWP (How to Do Things With Performance) at the conference Alliances and Commonalities,  Stockholm University of the Arts, see here, 25-27.10. 2018.
“Let’s talk about performance! III” Conversation on performance art with Tomasz Szrama at Muu gallery, see here, 1.10.2018.
Presentation in the panel “Migrating concepts in performance” with How to do things with performance? at IFTR (International Federation for Theatre Research) conference Theatre and Migration in Belgrad  (see program) 19-23.7 2018.
”Revisiting the City Skyline”, presentation in the panel “Networking Finland, Malta, Korea” – a performative panel across time and space with How to do things with performance? at PSi (Performance Studies International) #24 in Daegu, Chorea 3-6.7. 2018.
“Authorship, Agency and Performing – in Finnish” in the panel “What is Performativity in Finnish?” with How to Do Things With Performance -project at Cultural Mobility of Performance and Performativity Studies International Conference, Kraków 28-30.5. 2018.
“Regurgitated perspectives – an excerpt” with HTDTWP at The Spring Research Day at Kiasma, 25.4. 2018.
”Puhetta performanssista” – Conversations on performance art II, with Essi Kausalainen and Sara Pathirane at Muu gallery, see here , 23.4.2018.
Performance “Regurgitated Perspectives” together with How to do things with performance? at the 9th SAR conference – International Conference on Artistic Research Artistic Research will Eat Itself at University of Plymouth 11-13.4. 2018.
Presentation at the research day organised by How to do things with performance? -project at University of the Arts Helsinki Theatre Academy, here, 2.3. 2018.
“Puhetta performanssista” – Conversations on Performance art at Muu gallery, hosted by Annette Arlander. First Guest: artist and curator Leena Kela, and her project One Year Performance, see here, on 26.2.2018.
Other publications and presentations:
— “Process as Performance or Variations of Swinging”. In Hetty Blades & Emma Meehan (eds.) Performing Process: Sharing Dance and Choreographic Practice. Intellect Books. 2018, 99-118.
— “Day and Night with Malla” In Screenworks 8.2 On Digital Ecologies and the Anthropocene
— “Dune Dream – Self-imaging, Trans-corporeality and the Environment”. Body, Space & Technology. 17(1), 2018,3–21.
— “Performing with the Weather” in Global Performance Studies Issue 1.2. Performance Climates
— “Agential Cuts and Performance as Research”. In Annette Arlander, Bruce Barton, Melanie Dreyer-Lude, Ben Spatz (eds.) Performance as Research: Knowledge, Methods, Impact. London and New York: Routledge 2018, 133-151.
— “Introduction to Future Concerns. The Multiple Futures of Performance as Research.” In Annette Arlander, Bruce Barton, Melanie Dreyer-Lude, Ben Spatz (eds.) Performance as Research: Knowledge, Methods, Impact. London And New York: Routledge 2018, 333-349.
Participating in a panel at the seminar Music in Disorder – Counterplay, Complexity and Collective Improvisation at Royal College of Music in Stockholm, see 30.11.2018.
Participating in the panel discussion ”Artistic research as basic research” at the Symposium organised by the Committee for Artistic Research at the Swedish Research Council in Piteå 15.11.2018
Member of the examining committee for PhD Tindra Thor Painting the City: Performative Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Space and Art. Stockholm University, Department of Media Studies 8.6.2018
Library talk with Stacey Sacks at SADA Library, Stockholm University of the Arts 24.4.2018.
“Generations of Artistic Research”, discussion at University of the Arts Helsinki Centre for Artistic Research, see here 1.3.2018.
Opponent at Marja Silde’s doctoral dissertation in theatre- and performance studies Poseeraamisia ja itsensä ylittämisiä. Habituksen esteettinen muokkaaminen 1980-luvun Helsingin kaupunkikulttuurin murroksessa [Posings and overcomings of the self. The aesthetic preparation of the habitus in the changing urban culture of 1980’s Helsinki] at Helsinki University 27.1.2018.
Moderating the Norwegian Artistic Research Program Fellowship seminar #2 ”Unfold and articulate” at University of Bergen, Faculty of Art and Design, see programme 10-11.1.2018.


With a Ficus Tree to End the Year

During my Christmas Holiday I usually try to spend some time with local trees or shrubs. This year I would have liked to perform with the controversial Vinagrera plant (Rumex lunaria) that is invading the bare volcanic slopes with its sparkling lime colors. But to return to the volcano slopes with a camera was too much of a dazzle, at least for now. Instead I made two small sketches with my phone, in places that I simply happened to feel like recording. One was a concrete cube on the path along the shore between Puerto del Carmen and Puerto Calero. It reminded me of a work I did in 2003-2004 on Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. The only version available anywhere is an installation called Crystal Ball, the other ones exist as DVD copies in my bookshelf. Anyway, later I found many others of these concrete blocks on the shores, but sat down only on this first one I noticed:


On an afternoon in Playa Blanca, another beach resort, I walked over the slopes and had the impulse to sit on a rock with some small grasses in the desert in the evening sun:


But these were only notes, or souvenirs, even though I edited them and uploaded on the RC, here. I wanted to sit in a tree, and decided to choose a small crooked tree growing between the roads on my daily morning walk route, if I could not find anything else. But then I saw some huge Ficus trees at the outskirts of Puerto caller from the bus window, and decided to visit them. And yes, I found a lovely tree partner to sit with, on or in. The day was very windy, so the images look rather funny, especially with the sound of the passing cars, as if I was traveling at high-speed. Besides this “racing-version” I edited one called testing, and another one called looking, where I tried to move the camera along the beautiful branches, as a try out. The video are uploaded on the RC here.


The real question remains: what next? I want to spend time with trees, yes, but how to make it more interesting to look at and somehow relevant intellectually?


Helsinki Tree Calendar

Finally, at the end of year 2018 I managed to edit a final screening version of the Helsinki tree calendar performed and recorded in 2017, partly spurred by my wish to finish the Stockholm Tree Calendar by the end of the year, summarized in Swedish here. The Helsinki Tree Calendar was something I began on impuls, trying to connect my old (still on-going) project of talking trees with the then new project Performing with Plants. I made several versions of some of the trees, and had serious trouble in finding some of the so-called trees in the Celtic tree calendar, like the ivy, in Helsinki, so I made some adaptations. Here comes a list of the versions I chose for the screening compilation and the installation version, as they are actually meant to be shown as a calendar, one at a time, with duration and day of recording added:
The birch 24 December – 20 January:
Birch in January 4 min 41 sek. (Munkkiniemenranta 21.1.2017)
The rowan 21 January – 17 February:
Rowan in February 4 min 43 sek. (Särkiniemi 11.2.2017)
The ash 18 February – 17 March:
Ash in February 5 min 48 sek. (Kaivopuisto 18.3.2017)
The alder 18 March – 14 April:
Alder in April 12 min 40 sek. (Mellstenin ranta 11.4.2017)
The willow 15 April – 12 May:
Willow in May 9 min 44 sek. (Harakka Island 6.5.2017)
The hawthorn 13 May – 9 June:
Hawthorn in June 18 min 6 sek. (Observatory Park 7.6.2017)
The oak 10 June – 7 July:
Oak in June 8 min 10 sek. (Eugen Schauman’s Park 26.6.2017)
The holly 8 July – 4 August:
Holly in July 9 min 22 sek. (Kaisaniemi Botanical Garden 30.7.2017)
The hazel 5 August – 1 September:
Hazel in August 9 min 35 sek. (Herttoniemi Manor Park 20.8.2017)
The vine 2 September – 29 September:
Vine in September 5 min 15 sek. (yard in Ullanlinna 16.9.2017)
The ivy 30 September – 27 October:
Ivy in October 8 min 23 sek. (at home 1.11.2017)
The reed 28 October – 23 November:
Reed in November 8 min 22 sek. (Arabianranta 22.11.2017)
The elder 24 November – 23 December:
Elder in December 13 min 38 sek. (Kaivopuisto 2.12.2017)
The screening version is a compilation of 1 min.20 sec. of the beginning of each chosen tree, Helsinki Tree Calendar 17 min.42 sec. in all. The installation version, Helsinki Tree Calendar – Installation, consists of 4 min. 40 sec. of the beginning of each chosen tree, ideally to be shown in thirteen monitors, all synchronized.

Revisiting the Rusty Ring

While heading to Harakka Island last Thursday with Marika and Pira to take the boat up for the winter, I decided to try to revisit the next site of Animal Years, to have some material to work with for the next research day to be organized by the HTDTWP (How to do things with performance) project. I brought my camera and tripod and planned to sit on the rusty buoy on the hill, because that was the main image of the Year of the Ox, I thought. But then I realized that the day and night of the ox was actually recorded circling the rusty ring on the cliff in the southeastern part of the island, so I had better choose that spot for my revisit.
The full-length version Year of the Ox – Walking in Circles is 1 hour 30 minutes, while Year of the Ox – Walking in Circles (short) is 19 min 16 sec and Day and Night of the Ox is only 14 min 15 sec. That year I visited several places each week, so there are other works (and sites) I could have chosen, such as Year of the Ox – Riding a Buoy, Year of the Ox – Sitting in the Wall or Year of the Ox – In a Yoke.
After finally succeeding in getting the boat up – Marika and Pira were incredibly strong, in willpower, I would say – I looked for the rusty iron chain that I used to attach to the rusty ring on the cliff, but could not find it. There was no time to lose, we would get a lift back to the mainland with Saara in an hour, so I grabbed the rope that I had just removed from the boat and decided that would have to do. The site was easy to find, and the approximate spot for the tripod as well; unfortunately I did not take the time to make a test image, but jumped right into action. And that meant the framing was slightly off, or perhaps the rope was a little bit too long (and I did not have a belt to tie it to). In any case, the circle I drew by walking around the rusty ring was too big, so I disappeared outside the frame on both sides. This I noticed only later, at home. I knew about 25 minutes of material would be needed to be able to insert the 20 minute year and the almost 15 minute day and night into the new image, so I left the camera on to record the view and moved further a way to keep warm. When I returned I noticed the camera had stopped at 21 minutes (I remembered the limit was 29 minutes) and I had to restart it. But of course the clouds had moved, and the light had changed; I should have been there standing next to the camera to restart it immediately in order to minimize the ‘jump’.
My plan was to edit the material during the Christmas holiday, but when I began to do that I noticed, to my chagrin, that I had forgotten to bring with me the original videos of the Year of the Ox (2009-2010). Technically this image is not actually needed as a background, because year of the ox was the first year that I used 16:9 format and HD (or HD ready) quality. But the point of revisiting the site and the action had to be recorded, of course. So I only edited the basic image, and the compilation, inserting the old works into this new background, remains to be done later this winter. After all, the research day is only on the 20th of March.





The City as Stage 1 and 2

On my last day in Palermo, visiting Manifesta 12 a few weeks ago, I walked all the way to see one work from a bridge by the sea, at the outskirts of the city. And there I also made a short video, inspired by the title of the series City on Stage, which I misread ”city as stage”. I though that could be developed into a once-a-week type of series, made with my iPhone, and my little tripod, of handbag size, which I did not have with me in Palermo, of course. The rough sketch made with the iPhone leaning on my handbag shows a blurry shadow in the lower part of the image. I liked, however, the idea of simple and quick sketches made at the outskirts of cities or in places that I happen to visit. I edited three versionS of the small work: one where my movement into and out of the image is included (1a) one with the still pose only (1b) and one with a slow crossfade between the image with the human figure and the one without, a slow disappearance (1c). Here are stills from a and b:


Today in Bergen, Norway, I made another attempt, a quick sketch while waiting for the bus to the airport, placing my phone with the tripod on top of a rubbish bin and simply walking into the image, inspired by the presentations and discussions at the Artistic Research Forum I had enjoyed. And this time the city really served as a stage, because there were some passers-by performing with me. While waiting for the plane at the airport I edited two versions of the work, one with my movement included (2a) and one without (2 b). Here are stills from both of them:


Now, when I have made two sketches, in two cities, and when I know that with the right equipment it is rather easy, I can confirm that this is something I can try to keep up as a practice, at least while visiting various cities. The first video clips are available on the RC, here. This is not at all related to my project performing with plants, but rather linked to my previous attempts at performing landscape. There is something unpretentious in this way of making improvisatory notes that I like, anyway…

The Planetary Garden

The title of this years’ Manifesta, the European Nomadic Biennial, which changes host city every time, Manifesta 12 Palermo, is The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence. That is so directly connected to my research topic, performing with plants, that I simply had to go and see it, especially when I noticed that the garden was not only understood on a metaphoric level. One of the main venues, L’Orto Botanico, is the Botanical Garden founded in 1789. And of course the city of Palermo was seducing as well. I visited the place during Christmas 1975 and have very few memories of it, being stranded there, on my way to Tunis. I was very yong, trying to get away from Christmas celebrations and landing in the midst of the very Catholic city. I remember marveling at the amount nativity displays, which I had not seen before, and the huge bundles of Poinsettia branches, the red flowers that we had in pots and called Christmas stars. I spent Christmas Eve alone in a class z pension, burning a candle and eating dried figs, that is about all I can remember. It was about time to make acquaintance with the city, so now I spent three full days there, running around in all the rundown or abandoned palazzi that served as the venues for Manifesta, and really enjoyed the city.
The curatorial concept was divided into three strands: Garden of Flows, which “explores toxicity, plant life and culture of gardening in relation to the global commons”, Out of Control Room, which sees Palermo as “the ideal stage on which to test what space is now left for individual or collective, human or non-human political agencies”, and City on Stage, with Teatro Garibaldi as a place “to come together, start conversations, explore exhibitions and participate in live events open to the public”. Well, I did not have the chance to see any live events, only videos documenting some of them, nor did I make trips to the sites in the suburbs where some collaborations had taken place. There was plenty to see within walking distance. Many works hinted at the theme of garden, by including or referring to plants in some manner. Two works, however, I would like especially to remember.
First of all the disturbing installation by Lungiswa Gqunta “Lituation – The Gardner’s Revenge”, a mixture of litter, glass bottles, petrol, papaya trees and more, a creepy replica of what many urban gardens actually look like. According the program, in the words of the artist, I suppose: “This garden is a contested landscape, one we water with liquid that will ignite the masses because the revolution is lit”.


Another work that was disturbing in a different way, trying to be useful, experimenting with the idea of cultivation in collaboration with scientists and local food establishments, was called “What is Above is What is Below”, by Cooking Sections, a group founded in London 2013 consisting of Alon Schwabe and Daniel Fernández Pascual. I bumped into one part of the work in the form of citrus trees in the small Giardino Dei Gusti covered with yellow gauze, in an experiment to “water without water”. By the ruined Chiesa di S. Maria Dello Spasimo there was a related experiment with citrus trees enclosed by circular brick walls, a contemporary interpretation of the traditional mode of planting a tree in an enclosed yard.




More about the program and these works can be found at the manifesta 12 website.

Revisiting the Spruce and the Rock

There is only one spruce tree growing on Harakka Island, so it makes sense to speak of revisiting the spruce. There are more rocks than one, however, so revisiting the rock sounds slightly strange. These visits are linked to my work with Animal Years, a series of yearly projects, weekly performances for camera on the island during the years 2002-2014. And they could take place now because of my sitting as a gallery guard on the island for more than a week, taking care of the small exhibition Trees in Victoria in the old Telegraph (3-12.8.2018) The specific rock in question is the one I was sitting on in 2008 while posing as something resembling the little mermaid, or her sculpture in Copenhagen, and later edited the material into the work Year of the Rat – Mermaid 1-2 as well as Day and Night of the Rat – Mermaid. That year there was no proper ice, no more than what is shown in these images:

The “re-enactment” happened on a windy day, and I sat and hold on to the tripod after it almost tumbled over on the rocks. Although I managed to recreate the image fairly well, despite the water level being quite low, I forgot that the new proportions would leave my head out of the image. Well, the feet were the important part, anyway:


The spruce has also figured in a work, Under the Spruce I-III, made in the year of the pig, 2007, and edited into a three-channel installation. There my performing for camera is really invisible; the human figure sitting under the spruce is not discernible in most of the images. The spruce is video recorded from three different perspectives.

The idea was to insert all three images into one larger image of the spruce in full size. I made one version first, but the following day, while walking around, I noticed that a full portrait of the spruce might be easier from another angle.


Besides the rock and the spruce I also recorded a long take of the cliff on the northwestern shore in order to create a base image to insert the videos of the installation Year of the Pig – Installation or perhaps rather the two parts of shorter version Year of the Pig – Sitting on a Cliff I-II (short).

The cliff is steep, and it was difficult to frame a recognizable image; I might as well have recorded only the sea, or then tried from a boat, but a moving image would be something completely different, of course. A simple and rather steep shoreline is all I got:

I am not sure if I will make all these compilations, but at least it is worth trying. Year of the rat (2008) was the last year I used a DV camera and recorded images in TV-format. The quality is fairly poor, and inserting the images in a “proper” base image makes for a clear upgrade. And perhaps my little exercise on the rock has some value, mainly due to my funny bright yellow outfit…