20180221

Call for Action: Key Moments in Estonian Performance seminar at Kiasma by Anu Allas (Kumu) and Maria Arusoo (Center for Cont. Art Estonia) was a tad unbalanced. The presentation felt like a marketing event and suffered from technical difficulties.

Allas opened the event by explaining that Estonia was “The West of the Soviet Union” and that artists generally enjoyed the protection of the state and their experimentations (influenced by John Cage and the Fluxus-movement) were condoned and encouraged. She presented Pirita beach as an important venue and explained how the artists of the 70ies were influenced by Western art: “They just heard what artists in the West had done and tried to do something similar”.

The humorous nature of early performance art was underlined but unfortunately the political nature of this humourness was not identified as a method for organizing soviet underground art (Crusaders’ School of Pure Humour Without Joke in Prague is one example, Natalia Lach-Lachowicz from Poland an other). Allas claimed that there was no underground arts in Estonia. She mentioned artists Jüri Okas (Water Man, 1971), Siim-Tanel Annus and Raoul Kurvitz. The last two were presented as key figures of the post-soviet performance scene: “The Western art world expected that after the collapse of the soviet union these kinds of physical artist, manifesting raw creativity would emerge. They thought that this kind of expression had been suppressed by the soviet regime and wanted to witness it being liberated”.

Jaan Toomik (my guru from 2007) was mentioned as a god-father figure of Estonian contemporary art. He was framed as an “export artist”, a male hero of his time. We saw extracts from “Dancing Home” (1995) and “Dancing with Dad” (2003). I like both works (A lot of Estonian classic performance art can be found online). His work was presented as “responsive”, in comparison to feminist artist of today whos practice was presented as “reflective”. Valie Export Society was referred to but unfortunately the presentation didn’t cover their work in detail.

It occurred to me that “location sensitive art” made in post-soviet / peripheral-west countries is a perverse form of nationalism. Artist utilize western proven styles to exhibit their personal freedoms (which is often framed as creative violence against status quo). In this process their audiences can identify how these styles differ from the local culture and values and feel different (from the west) but the same (as the westerners). Post-soviet artists are celebrate for their creative independence but their value is judged based on how they received by western audiences.

Note: “Location sensitive art” came about as a concept in a discussion with Kristian. He told me about his trip to Ahmedabad and explained that locals navigate the city (and their lives) following a contextual map. Their caste, profession and religious prophecies determine what is possible for them, where, how and at what time of the day they can move. Kristian explained that westerners are “not location sensitive”, they believe that they have the responsibility to test the world.

The rest of the presentation was off balanced. Arusoo referred to Ene-Liis Semper, Flo Kasearu, Kris Lamsalu and Maria Metsalu but their work were presented in a form of a sales pitch: “She has refused to perform this work many times […] you at Kiasma are very lucky to have her here…” etc.

The history of Estonian performance art came off as a narrative on how a fringe ex-soviet society became an incubator for generic western aesthetics and styles: “Now we are equal to every other european country, many artists who work locally feel left out.. This is why there is now interest to developing collaborations with other ex-soviet countries”. Non Grata was not mentioned (as a member of the Estonian performance art family) and for some reason events between 1970-1990 were not discussed.

20180214

We are working to get a modular synthesiser system for public use at the new Center Library Ode. The idea that the library should have a modular came about in an easygoing chat with Mikko. After the talk I wrote an email to the Ode staff and for the past four months I’ve worked with musicians and serious hobbyist in an effort to design a modular system which would suit needs of library audiences (the sound requirements of professionals, artists and hobbyist). The library was excited about our first draft and asked for a more developed proposal. Last night our working group made plans for a complex system and we will present this idea for the library next month. If everything goes as planned there will be synths to borrow too!

Successfully build a Kastle 1.5 and a dip switch controllable splitter/mixer of my own design.

20180215

– We saw a Morris Mini at our after school club parking yard. It had a bumper sticker which read: “When I grow up I’m going to be a BMW”. I thought it was funny because BMW manufactures minis.

– Did you explain him that? That he need not worry. That he’s already the car of his dreams.

– No dad. I didn’t have time. The sticker also read that the name of the car was: “Bob”.

– Next time you see it you can tell him that “Bob” is the name his slave master gave him and that his true name is know only to himself.

– Ok.

Dark Kitchen: Making friends with microbes (2018) Mark Watson interviews Eva Bakkeslett about fermented foods.

20180209

Jesse was selling his art at the Senaatintori open-air market during the summer. A tourist from USA asked if he could pay for an item with dollars. “People laugh at Americans who believe that they can pay for stuff using dollars in Europe. But Americans are right. I accepted his dollars with out hesitation!” He told me (Bitterness and revenge = Class awarenesses and success). He gave me the dollars so that I can use them in New York but I’m thinking about framing them.

20180208

At first I thought that museums in Finland were interested in graffiti because it provides a simplified approach to postructuralism and the performativity of the public space: Everything is text. Top-down design of public spaces enforce normative behaviour. Artists are no longer geniuses, everybody must be granted the right to author public space etc.

But unfortunately it seems that museums are interested in graffiti-artist for very different reasons. They fit the role museums have reserved for artists of the past. Museums present them as avantgarde underdogs fighting for our right to express ourselves. Justice warriors without economical interests, emitting pure creativity. The first approach was oversimplified but the latter is offensive.

How Facebook Is Killing Comedy (2018) Sarah Aswell.

The other solution, which seems crazy, is for there to be a meta organizing campaign, where media companies band together and refuse to post on Facebook, essentially going on strike and withholding their labor until they are compensated. These media companies need leverage against this massive entity that is eating their lunch. That’s the labor problem.

There’s a reason that Mad magazine looks different from Vanity Fair. They need to convey a different aesthetic and a different tone for their content to really pop. Facebook is the great de-contextualizer.

20180207

My biggest concern about the normalization of sex-robots is that capitalist will use them to provide the labor-force with ad-hoc emotional and sexual companionship, at the same time they’re advancing working conditions which make long-term human-to-human relationships difficult to arrange and maintain. A dystopia where AI’s serve capitalist interests is portrayed in the Blade Runner 2049 film. The protagonist K condones humiliating working conditions thanks to the loving support of his AI hologram girlfriend Joi. K is motivated to work so that he can afford to upgrade her with a piece of tech that will allow her to move outside their house. Joi’s character can be read as criticism of processes which seek to commodify feminist movements. The device she uses to move outside (or project herself outside) looks like a futuristic ipod nano. It’s not freedom if you need to buy something to achieve it #ॐ

20180202

Autogynephilia (2018) ContraPoints.

KANYE WEST STYLE (2017) Mark Angel Comedy / Episode 133

Kanye West has killed me ooooh..

A very heavy text looking back at a curatorial project Jussi Koitela organized: Politics as Art against the Art of Economics; Reflections on the Skills of Economy Sessions (2018) Georgios Papadopoulos. It’s great that Jussi got a detailed conclusion for the project but the text feels like a monument. It says nice things in a very complicated way.

Art is not constrained by the limits of theory or language in its efforts to account for the unrepresented elements of reality through aesthetic interventions, so artistic critique can create frictions in the circulation of ideology and ruptures in the layer of meaning that is superimposed on the world by it.

Contrary to most mainstream curatorial activity, which, whether intentionally or not, tends to produce the artist as a commodity, the Skills of Economy Sessions attempted, and partly succeeded, in highlighting the grip of economic ideology on artistic practice, challenging the shared perception of the curator as a collaborator or even an apologist for the market.

20180201

Counter bodyweight training session I guided for HULLABALOO Club at NPTurku Festival.

Data is the new lifeblood of capitalism – don’t hand corporate America control (2018) Ben Tarnoff.

Letting capital run wild across the globe hasn’t exactly produced the best of all possible worlds. It’s strange to think that letting data do the same would yield a different result.

20180129

“Craft as class warfare”: Against craft (2018) Cennydd Bowles

Calling yourself a craftsperson affords status. Craft bespeaks skill and autonomy. In the face of creeping automation, a craftsperson is sovereign and irreplaceable. No mere production worker, labour to be organised – she chooses how the work should be done, which of course helps to justify her fees.

Deb Chachra’s piece Why I Am Not a Maker nails the negative connotations that surround making, craft’s central activity: its implied gendering, its conviction that the only valuable human activity is the production of capitalist goods. A shot of undiluted Californian Ideology.

Craft underpins how we dress and even behave. It’s easy to see where this leads: these identity performances become acts of gatekeeping.

Craftspeople generally aren’t renowned multidisciplinarians: sadly, some believe their expertise separates them from less capable people.

Why I Am Not a Maker (2015) Deb Chachra.

Describing oneself as a maker—regardless of what one actually or mostly does—is a way of accruing to oneself the gendered, capitalist benefits of being a person who makes products.

A quote often attributed to Gloria Steinem says: “We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” Maker culture, with its goal to get everyone access to the traditionally male domain of making, has focused on the first.

20180128

I’m serving as an presidential election officer and vote counter. Unfortunately the Nazis won.

Ismism (1979). An early example on how discussions concerning public space as a medium for artistic creativity is dominated by infrastructure made, used and controlled by capitalist.