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…
The first week of my one-month residency in Eckerö Post and Customs House on Åland Islands has been dominated by the Constellate event that replaces the PSi (Performance Studies international) conference this year, or rather the three day online symposium or workshop or gathering called Perform-Respond-Extend, organised by the Artistic Research Working Group. Exhausting and inspiring, and actually hard work, but, I am also very happy, because I managed to make two real videos as part of the assignments of the event. I made both of them together with the same ash tree near ”postbryggan”, the old pier.
The first video was made as a response to Danai Theodoridou’s work Languages of the Unheard, and is called On Vegetal Democracy. There I recycle parts of an old text published in Ruukku journal already in 2015, but otherwise the approach is new to me. The second video is using a familiar technique, writing a letter to the same ash tree, and was made as an extension of Göze Saner’s response to the presentation by Caitlin Main, dealing with trauma. That video is called The Ash Tree in Eckerö, and the text is written and spoken in Swedish, with English subtitles. Although both works were made as exercises or comments and as part of collaborative work, I am happy with them as independent works in their own right, especially after making an adjustment to the subtitles of the latter. And the brief mention of the material they are responding to does not prevent them from being seen independently. They are both available to watch online here. Because the two videos with the ash tree are ready to watch now, they feel much more like real accomplishments than my ongoing work. Time will show if they will feel relevant or not later on.
My main task on Eckerö, so far, are the two time lapse videos I am creating by posing daily with a maple tree in the yard and with an apple tree in front of the building. But those exercises will produce some results only at the end of my stay. These ongoing daily meetings are documented as still images, here. In any case I am enjoying my stay at the newly renovated residency and cherishing the spacious setting and the historical environment.
Returning to Kilpisjärvi for two weeks in June 2021, for an Ars Bioarctica residency, I did of course remember my first visit at the biological station in Kilpisjärvi in 2014, which was divided into two parts, one week in April and the other week in June. But I did not realize I would be here in the very same week. I noticed it because I had gathered material from that first visit as an appendix for an article called “Data, Material, Remains” on a page on the Research Catalogue, called Ars bioarctica residency 2014. There I found out the exact dates when I performed some of the works with Malla, the mountain at the western end of the lake. I also found links to the posts I wrote about my visit on this very same blog: Malla – Mountain in the North, describing the first visit in April, and Meeting Malla Again as well as Mountain Brooks Once More from my second visit in June.
Now I am here for other purposes, performing with the dawny birches or mountain birches in the area, as part of the project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees (see post on the project blog, here). I could not resist the temptation to revisit the site where I performed “Looking at Malla” on 5 june 2014 as well as “Day and Night with Malla” on 7-8 June 2014 and try to recreate the images, in order to see if something had visibly changed – besides my camera. Not that much, actually. Yes, there is less snow on the slopes of Malla, and perhaps slightly less ice on the lake, as could be expected due to global warming, but surprisingly much remains the same. Wearing a black pullover rather than the dark blue scarf that I originally used makes quite a difference, though. Recreating “Looking at Malla”, or rather one of the sessions of the day-long time-lapse video, was not as easy as I thought. Here is the first image of the original work:
I made several attempts before finding approximately the right spot in front of the camera in order to be visible, and cover only part of the view.
Recreating the first image of the time-lapse video “Day and Night with Malla” was easier.
The rock was there, although I could not place the tripod as far back as I did before, perhaps because there was no ice now, or perhaps there was some sort of wooden construction before, or then I had a different objective in my camera, a different camera, too, I suppose. The one I use now I got that same year, but probably did not have with me at the residency yet.
The session today was actually closer to the one-off session “Moment with Malla” recorded on 7 June 2014. There you can really see the importance of the scarf in repeating the form of the mountain and the rock:
The most interesting thing, the real reason why I thought the revisit was worthwhile, was the birch growing next to the rock, and barely visible in the original images. Turning the camera only slightly to the right brought the birches into full view, and I thought standing next to the birch and holding on to its trunk would make a perfect pair to the image of sitting on the rock.
I did not even bother to make a test, because I thought I could easily picture my position next to the small tree. I did not realize how big I am, and that my hand would be covered by the rest of my body, so the image is not at all what I imagined.
Well, of course not, I would like to add, but it seems like I never learn…
PS. I did a new attempt, later, which is documented here.
A week in Örö after a long break – I was here last time at the end of February – is the perfect way to celebrate May and mothers’ day and to get some work done with the pines. When arriving I suddenly remembered the Pasque flowers (Anemone pulsatilla) whose only known habitat in Finland is supposed to be Örö. At least that is what a sign next to some fenced spots claimed. And yes, they were in full bloom, although bending in the chilly wind. There is some controversy whether they are extinct or not in Finland and which species of pulsatilla or anemones, “kylmänkukat”, actually have grown or grow here now.
I heard from a local man interested in photography about another type, the small pasque flower (pulsatilla pratensis) which is even rarer, and grows on the island, too, but has no official signs, at least not yet. They looked really delicate and exotic, I have to admit. There were three spots where the plants were marked with a circle of rocks, and in one spot also protected by a sign “valuable vegetation” on a fence, which prevented one to get anywhere near.
The Tree Calendar.
Video works by Annette Arlander in the Telegraph on Harakka Island 19–30 May 2021.
Note the time (due to the timetable of the ferry boat): weekdays 2 pm to 6 pm, sat & sun noon to 6 pm.
Welcome to the opening and a “garden party” on Tuesday 18 May at 6 pm.
Annette Arlanderin videoteoksia Harakan lennättimessä 19–30.5.2021. Huom. aika (yhteysveneen aikataulujen vuoksi): arkisin klo 14–18, la & su 12-18.
Tervetuloa avajaisiin ja ”puutarhajuhliin” tiistaina 18.5. klo 18.
Videoarbeten av Annette Arlander i Telegrafen på Stora Räntan 19–30.5. 2021.
Notera tiden (på grund av båttidtabellen): vardagar klo 14–18, lö & sö 12-18.
Välkommen på vernissage och ”trädgårdsfest” tisdagen den 18.5. klo 18.
See also / katso myös / se även:
The Helsinki Tree Calendar (2018) 17 min 42 sec
and / ja / och: https://annettearlander.com/current-projects/the-tree-calendar/
The Tree Calendar is based on the following version of the Celtic Lunar Tree Calendar
And the working process was documented online here
At the end of my first week in Hailuoto, in a residency called daycare center, the sun finally decided to shine as beautifully as on the day when I arrived here last week. Most of the time there has been snowfall or rain, with more and more snow preventing the old snow from melting and the winter lingering on. Now the brilliant sunshine sparkled in the frost on the puddles on the muddy roads, at least hinting at a promise of spring. And today I finally visited my first Tarri pine, a special type of local pine with a thick trunk and a spread out crown. One of the most famous ones, the Askelin pine, probably named after the farm it is growing on, is known for enduring several wars, and they say it was damaged during the war 1742-43 and has also been hit by artillery. It is actually protected now, with reference to the nature protection law (luonnonsuojelulain nojalla), a sign next to it declares:
‘Rauhoitettu’ is a funny word, it means protected in this case, but it could also mean pacified, so both “made peaceful” or “to be left in peace”. My landlady explained how to find it, and when I walked on the road I saw several pines wondering whether they might be the right one. When I reached the old pine with the sign next to it, it was obvious that the other candidates where nothing near as big and old.
As part of my project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees, (see separate blog here) I am of course interested in encountering local celebrities. This time, however, it would be hypocrisy to speak of an encounter – I behaved like a really impolite tourist, tramping around the tree without even greeting it first, taking my pictures and then leaving without the slightest thank you. I thought I would have learned to behave myself with trees by now, but obviously not. No wonder if they think they are strange people, these humans…
The two first months of the year I have spent a moment daily with the pines on Skifferholmen or Liuskasaari, an island connected to Uunisaari with a jetty or breakwater, and thus accessible during the winter months. When I began I did not imagine there would be ice so I could actually have walked to Harakka Island. Well, today I would not like to walk across on the ice any longer, because there is so much water on the ice, but some people still do. Today is the last day of February, so I will finish this practice. And I have not visited the pines daily, strictly speaking, because I have spent one week in Örö in the beginning of January and another week now at the end of February. (See the blog posts “Pines on Örö Again” and “New Pines on Örö”) There I have another pine tree, the pine next door, which I visit and hold on to for a moment every day, while there. The first tree on Skifferholmen I was holding on to as well, as described in “The Pine on Skifferholmen” See the first image from January above, and the last image of January, below.
I soon discovered, however, that I missed the ‘becoming tree’ balancing exercise and switched to that with the second pine, in February. See the blog post “Another Pine on Skifferholmen” The image with the second pine from the 1 February below shows me posing next to the pine in a familiar manner,
And also in the last image of February, where the sun creates a fantastic colour display:
These visits are all part of my ongoing project Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees, which has a project blog of its own, and an archive on the Research Catalogue, called “Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees” as well. The visits to the pines on Skifferholmen are all documented with still-images on one page in that archive, called, unsurprisingly “The Pines on Skifferholmen” You are very welcome to follow or look at any or all of them…
Spending a week on Örö to begin my 65th year has been a pleasure, and to see the woods and the shores covered in snow. Like most of us I have great expectations for the new year and hope it would bring some exciting changes and developments. The idea that the new year is like an empty sheet is of course an illusion, most of what will happen is already planned, and the future is often a continuation of the past. It is not unwritten at all, but rather tightly scripted. Still, I always hope for some miraculous strokes of luck or the like…
The year 2020 has been a crazy year for many of us, for me as well, and has involved all kinds of transformations and restrictions. The picture above is a prohibition sign painted on a tree trunk, marking the border of a nature reserve. It reminds me of not being able to visit my apartment in Stockholm since January, and of not being accepted to any of the two professorships that I applied for, but at the same time also of being able to spend time not only on Harakka Island but in three great residencies, in Johannesburg in South Africa, in Mustarinda in Hyrynsalmi and on Örö in Kimito archipelago. And most importantly, I have begun a new project, Meetings with Remarkable and Unremarkable Trees. At the end of the year I usually summarise what I have done, and therefore I add here a list of almost everything I have accomplished this year, both small and bigger things:
Residency in Örö in November, Öres
Mustarinda residency during September see here
ARA (Arts Research Africa) residency in Johannesburg 10.2.- 23.3.(orig. 10.4.) 2020
Performing with Plants – Att uppträda/samarbeta med växter. More here and the living archive here
“Remembering the Year of the Tiger – Image, Memory, Site”, in Marja Silde, Outi Lahtinen & Tua Helve (eds.), Näyttämö & Tutkimus 8: Muisti, Arkisto ja Esitys [Stage & Research 8: Memory, Archive and Performance] 2020, 292-318. See here
“Miten tehdä asioita tutkimuspäivillä – Katsaus ‘Miten tehdä asioita esityksellä?’ -tutkimushankkeeseen” [How to Do Things with Research Days – Review of the research project How to do things with performance] by Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha, Pilvi Porkola, in Marja Silde, Outi Lahtinen & Tua Helve (eds.), Näyttämö & Tutkimus 8: Muisti, Arkisto ja Esitys [Stage & Research 8: Memory, Archive and Performance] 2020, 428-432. See here
“Dearest Pine”, in Jack Faber and Anna Shraer (eds.) Eco Noir: A Companion for Precarious Times. Academy of Fine Arts, Uniarts Helsinki Publishing 2020, 105-112. See here
“The Shadow of a Pine Tree. Authorship, Agency and Performing Beyond the Human”, in Ewa Bal & Mateusz Chaberski (eds.) Situated Knowing. Epistemic Perspectives on Performance London & New York: Routledge 2020, 157-170. See here
“HTDTWP presents: The Transformative Potential of Performance” by Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen, Tero Nauha and Pilvi Porkola, in Leena Rouhiainen (ed.) Proceedings of CARPA 6 Artistic Research Performs and Transforms: Bridging Practices, Contexts, Traditions & Futures Nivel 13 (2019) here
“Revisiting the Rock – Self-diffraction as a Strategy”, Global Performance Studies 3.2. (2020) here.
“Performing with Plants in the Ob-scene Anthropocene” in Nordic Theatre Studies< vol 32 2020, 121-142 https://tidsskrift.dk/nts/issue/view/8763
“Behind the Back of Linnaeus – Bakom ryggen på Linné.” Ruukku – Studies in Artistic Research, Issue #14 Ecologies of practice. Here.
ARA-Podcast – Performance as research: a discussion with Annette Arlander https://www.iono.fm/e/822054
“Revisiting the Rusty Ring – Ecofeminism Today?” PARtake Journal here
“The City Skyline Revisited – From networks to trans-corporeality”, Research in Art Education 1/2020, pp 37-55 here
Viisi vuodenaikaa – Harakan taiteilijayhteisön 30-vuotisjuhlajulkaisu (Harakka artist community 30 year celebration publication) small pdf:19 Harakan_julkaisupienversio
Performanssifilosofiaa – esitysten, esiintymisten ja performanssien filosofiasta performanssiajatteluun (eds.) Tero Nauha, Annette Arlander, Hanna Järvinen and Pilvi Porkola. Nivel 12. Teatterikorkeakoulu 2019.
online version https://nivel.teak.fi/performanssifilosofiaa/
downloadable pdf version https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/311478
Exhibitions, events and performances
Dear Firethorn Rhus (with text) shown at Muu Gaala in Helsinki 19-22.11.2020.
“With a Pine” as part of Be-coming Tree, a collective online performance 31 October 2020, see here
”With a Rowan”, as part of ABLE happening by Island Rehearsals on Harakka Island 20.8.2020 from 6 pm see here
Prforming with a pine in a collective performance Be-coming Tree via zoom on 1 August 11 am to 12 pm (UK time), see here
Mantereelta – Från Fastlandet – From the Mainland. Exhibition with video works in the Telegraph on Harakka Island 14-26 July 2020
Performance with an apple tree as part of SUSUKÄKE (Sumatrantien Suomalaisugrilainen käsitekesä) Fri 17. July 7 pm. See documentation here
Performing with my Juniper friend on Harakka Island as part of ISLAND REHEARSALS on Friday 5 June at 4 pm.
Visiting Nirox Arts 16-20 March https://www.niroxarts.com/
Day with a Juniper as part of the Video Weeks in gallery Sinne 21-26.2020. See here
Papers and presentations
Conversation about peer review in artistic research with Mika Elo, Maarit Mäkelä, Otso Huopaniemi and others at Kuva Research Days 9 December 2020.
Presentation of the outcomes of the project Performing with Plants at the autumn day of Society for Theatre Research 4.12.2020
Conversation with Antti Salminen to celebrate the publishing of the Finnish translation of Emanuele Coccia’s The Life of Plants by Tutkijaliitto, 29 October 2020 at 6 pm at Kääntöpöytä, see here
“Precarious Playground”, introductory walk and screening of “Returning to the Stairs” at NSU (Nordic Summer University) meeting 26-27.7.2020 see program
“Meetings with trees and the metaphysics of mixture”, at the event organised by Performance-as-Research Working Group / International Federation for Theatre Research CONTINUITIES in PRACTICE – a virtual exchange in order to continue the conversation Tuesday 14th July, 4pm-6pm (BST).
“Chronicles of Confinement: Europa”, conversation with performance artists 10 July 1 PM New York time, 8 pm Eastern European time, organised by Canongeproductions. See https://www.facebook.com/events/947715079006591/
“Principles of Artistic Research in Performance Doctorates”, in Visioning the Future: Artistic Doctorates in Ireland. Online Seminar Series 2020, 9 July 11 am to 12 pm. http://artisticdoctorateireland.com/events/. See details here
“Writing to Trees with Trees as Performance for Camera”, presentation at the PSI Artistic Research Working Group’s virtual summer meeting 7 July 2 pm UCT/GMT.
“Exposition and/ as Method”, lecture via zoom at SKH 22 June 2020 at 2 pm Stockholm time. https://www.uniarts.se/english/news/events/open-lectures
Presentation with HTDTWP at Tutke Spring Days 28-29 April, see here
Workshop with HTDTWP for doctoral candidates at University of the Arts Helsinki (online) 14-15 April 2020
ARA-seminar (online) 9 April 4-6 pm
ARA (Arts Research Africa) seminar 12 March 2020 1 pm to 4 pm Wits Theatre, Johannesburg.
Presentation via Skype at “Asking for Advice: Artistic Research in YouTube, Home videos and Conversation” 27.2. at Centre for Artistic Research, University of the Arts Helsinki, see here.
Seminar with artistic doctoral candidates organised by DIKU in Oslo 5-7.2.2020.
”Year of the Pig with a Tatarian Maple” presentation at the Research Week of Stockholm University of the Arts 24.1.2020. See programme here
The adventure begins with a bus from Helsinki to Salo and then Dalsbruk or Taalintehdas. I am going to spend the month of November in residency on Örö, or Öres. The day is grey, dark and gloomy as befits the first day of November. There will be heavy wind tonight; I hope we will get to Örö, the Ear Island, before nightfall. It is windy already, but at night it is even more scary. Luckily I don’t think there is big open water to cross before Örö, but I do not know for sure, I have never been anywhere near. My neighbor for the coming month is a Spanish guy who is on the same bus. It is good to know that I am not completely alone in the house or on the island. There are various caretakers and entrepeneurs living there, and the whole island is only approximately 2 km. I already see myself walking back snd forth on the paths several times a day.
The change of bus in Salo was easy, and in Dalsbruk we easily found the square and the shop where the taxi was to pick us up. He drove us to Kasnäs, down to the harbour, and reassured us that so far not a single case of covid has been discovered in the whole of Kimito. The boat ride was not as bumpy as I expected, the taxi boat was quite big and sturdy, and we arrived on Örö well before nightfall.
By the time we had walked with our carriages across the island and past the residency house to begin with, it was already dark. On the way I saw several interesting looking trees and there are some handsom pine trees right next to the house – something to look at tomorrow…