20190925

Vladivostok was the capital of pirates and brand cannibals. People looked stylish and the city center felt energetic. There was a pedestrian boulevard for tourists with Asian food novelties and gift shops. Visitors were from South-Korea and there was a lot of them. The city revealed itself as the South-Korean equivalent of what 2001 Tallinn was for Finns. Dolce, Supreme, weird Japanise sneakers with self illuminating laces. Referencing construction work and nuclear power. All straight from Chinese factories across the bay. All the goods in open street markets were tainted with a light layer of oil, it was meant to give the vinyl a shine but collected dust.

The cities makings were visible a stroll away from the boulevard. Away from the Kawaii shops, trams raddled like wheelbarrows, the pedestrian paths faded away and broken city heating pipes busted boiled trash fumes across the hilly skyline. Blockhouses like snakes, wrapped around hills as morbid rims. Solidified polyurethane dripping eternally from building seams. Cars moved furiously, using intuitive mutant patterns as lanes, in a choreography which echoed a collective death wish or lust for life. I loved it.

The city made me understand contemporary Russian infrastructure as the decaying corpus of the ex-soviet, presently habituated by a thin layer of privatization. The streets are rubble but people had pretty cars and clean albeit faintly oily Italian shoes.

Our one night show in Zarya felt really nice. The exhibition was more coherent and I enjoyed the videos in the screening more. Total atmospheric mean (2010) by Maija Timonen felt very fitting to the trip. Her analysis of a Shakira music video provided a ground to read styles which women are exhibited in Russian popular medias (that I’ve seen along our route). It has something to do with violent self-objectification and how this renders bodies non-penetrable and non-cavityish. I had some technical difficulties but apparently the audience didn’t notice any. My statue-stretch-poses were perfectly vague and I used my grandfathers voice as an underground cavern. It was porous and missing limbs. A line of men cued to have a taste of the water I prepared.

We are now on route to Moscow. Elina is working with a canvas for a text, photo, etc. piece. She’ll use the train and it’s movement trough the continent as a display. What I know of the work so far makes me think of our group as an Alkovi gallery in motion. Katja managed to aquire her more canvas material. The canvases will be delivered to a station stop on the way! Iona is working on her notes and Miina is reading. I’ll boot up my eurorack after Khabarovsk and attempt to link it to the train using piezos. I’ll also record noises and ambients of the trip.

20190528

Participated on my second Russian excursion with the Alkovi “In Various Stages of Ruins” -group (2018-19): Elina Vainio, Matti Kunttu, Iona Rosin, Jussi Kivi and Katja Kalinainen. The project and the trip are organized by Arttu Merimaa & Miina Hujala. This is a raw list of events.

Wednesday (22.5)

  • We visited Lappeenranta South Karelia Museum and South Karelia Art Museum: Saw a really cool looking hoody by the Hanti-Mansia folk, a painting of a Saimaa canal fell off the wall
  • Jussi took us to chalk quarries, there was an emergency rescue personnel fire training facility on site
  • Swam in Saimaa and tasted the water of Huhtiniemi spring (no taste, cold)

Thursday

  • We headed to Vyborg with MS Carelia
  • Spotted underwater “putin-face-altars” on canal wall with Elina
  • We walked across a train-track bridge and identified semiotic-deconstruction: Some columns of an old bridge were dismantled and others left standing – To signify that work to dismantle the bridge is on its way
  • Vyborg suburbs are pretty and full of fences which guard vacant stripes of land. Some fences also guard fences
  • Visited Monrepos-park: Picturesque wooden faux-temple on a hill, endless reconstruction work, a caste on a hill (felt jealous about others discovering graves on a sea shore hill)
  • Our groups organization resembled fermented milk (viili): We stretched into a thin line, individuals swapped between lumps (also unintentionally, when a shoelace came undone etc.) and bounced back together
  • Stayed in Hotel Druzhba

Friday

  • We visited Vyborg castle, the tower renovation was complete and we got a tour to the top: Dropped a 1000 rubles bill between the tower ceiling structures, the group came to my aid and we build a variety of tools to retrieve the money (Elina: This is a team building exercise! Maybe art is)
  • We spotted a mineral water display in the castle exhibition
  • We roamed around the old fortifications around the Avangard-Stadion: Visited a toxic cave and a gunpowder storage
  • Jussi announced the concept of Non-View (designating views that are difficult to describe trough present aesthetic standards) and prompted us to make a publication around the concept (before leaving to Helsinki)
  • A chauffeur drove us to Kurkijoki: We stayed at the Lars Sonck House Museum (we got really good introduction to the place by Nikita), at sunset we headed to a hill in the town center (felt like 3000 bc)

Saturday

  • We identified semiotic-reconstruction: A plastered wall in the Lars Sonck house was spay painted with wild ornaments (asemic writing), so that it would align with the wall with the ornaments found in the rooms wallpapers and window curtains
  • Spotted Finnish travelers in town: “This is the place I feel most at home. Cuckoo sings”. They detailed.
  • We visited a local-culture museum in Kurkijoki: Some exhibition displays and cabinets were filled with objects from different eras (they were organized by their shapes and sizes), touched a mammoth bone
  • The museum guide gave us a tip to visit a local spring, she described the it as a “silver spring” and drew us a beautiful map
  • The spring is located on a hill behind the library, Arttu spotted a path which took us to a humble spring-well: Water tasted great, I carbonated a batch too
  • Flag of the Republic of Karelia next at a town monument was bigger in size then the Russian flag
  • We took a buss to Käkisalmi: Stayed at the Park Hotel Kapitan Morgan (sauna was not working properly), took a dip in Laatokka

Sunday

  • Made various electronic experiments with the water: 3,3v square wave signal was passed trough and a diy electroslush (LOM) used to listen to water, the returning signal was amplified with a lm386 and played trough a bone conduction speaker. The conductivity of different waters was similar.
  • A chauffeur drove us to spring close to Kluchevaya. I had spotted the site from the mineralwaters.geo.uu.nl service (link)
  • Finding the spring was challenging: We drove for three hours and then headed deep into the woods (saw a grave and house ruins), after a 20 min walk, a path was discovered which led us the spring origins, water tasted great. The chauffeur smiled for the first time when he was offered a taste.
  • We spotted Ludvig Nobels well and took a taste of it too: The terms “Wild Waters” and “Untapped Waters” were coined
  • We headed back to Vyborg (stayed at Hotel Vyborg): Iona showed a video she has been working on related to Monrepos-park, Karelia-nostalgia and geohistorical estrangement (my interpretation)
  • We had dinner close to the hotel. Castle tour guide Vital was in the bar with a friend Misha and we banded to watch sports. Vital provided a thorough lecture on the history of the castle

Monday

  • Elina took us to ruins close to the railroad bridge and installed a sentence she had been working on during the trip on tree branches
  • We left for Helsinki on the train. On route we had a blind-water tasting: Kurkijoki spring water was rated the best

Vyborg water-voyages, spring and well water tasting etiquette (draft): The person who has called for the quest of the spring will taste the water first, so that its quality and drinkability can be assessed. Group members should not be pressured to taste the water but everyone should be offered a sip from a clean cup.

20190409

Participated in the first Performing the Fringe -event or un-conference in Stockholm last weekend. The research project is organized by curators Inga Lace & Jussi Koitela and the process will continue till 2020. The project feels very similar to the Alkovi Gallery Russian-focus program and activities I’m participating in (which is convenient). We walked and talked for two days around the Hökarängen district. Our group was introduced to the area by researcher Moa Tunström and other activist/artists. We visited Kulturhuset Cyklopen, local allotment gardens which were introduced to us by Janna Holmstedt, an old (still active) graffitiwall which was introduced to us by Lina Eriksson and a horse stable where we met Svarten (horse). Activities were centered around Konsthall C, which managing director Erik Annerborn hosted us warmly. The group participating in Performing the Fringe consists of artists from the Baltic-Nordic region. I had the pleasure to meet Andrej Polukord (he also is the director of Galerie Uberall, we coined the term Easternational in a chat), Asbjørn Skou (we talked about kettlebells!), Flo Kasearu (who gave a great presentation of her house museum), Jon Benjamin Tallerås (we talked about carpentry. Tallerås shared his view that urban structures which are designed to guide our movements work because they have a “semiotic quality to them”. We could easily bypass a fence but it is intended to be read read as like a language. The fence speaks to us and says: “Don’t move from here.”) and Valentina Karga (whom I know from her work in Maunula). The group will head to Pori during the summer and my next engagement with the project will be in Vilnius.

Will Brexit break up the UK? (2019) An Other Europe Podcast. A very tight analysis of the ideological backgrounds of Brexit. Offers many useful concepts such as “structural emotion” which explains the process when politicians work to justify their feelings using rational arguments.

201190111

Alkovi gallery (Miina Hujala & Arttu Merimaa) is organizing a research-art-process which will take place partially in Vyborg and deal with ruins, tourism & knowledge. It’s called In Various Stages of Ruins. I’ll meet with the group of artist invited to join the process next week (our first meeting was in Vyborg last spring). Hujala send us a text to contemplate, in which she poses various questions on what art can enable and how it differs from other modes of thought. This got me thinking about moods.

Edit: Strikethroughs and ?-marks made after the second Vyborg trip.

Art can establish a mood

  • Mood is knowledge that lasts for a moment (?)
  • A mood is the best aid for exploring the potential of a site, idea or event
  • Moods swing and maintaining a mood is a challenge, as a mood is not action (?)
  • Mood might be the essence (or performativity) of solidarity
  • Processes which try to deliver a mood are scary
  • Art is more like a mood then mood is art

What is the minimal effort for setting a mood?

  • A mood requires a comfortable setting (no hunger)
  • Moods require that they are identified (possibly known in advance)
  • Too much talking spoils the mood
  • Setting a mood requires preparation and self-confidence (trust)
  • Only stopping an action makes changes in moods noticeable
  • Moods catch on trough subtle hints

What can moods do?

  • Change the appearance of things and events
  • Provide access to new horizons
  • Things make more sense in a good mood
  • A set of different moods is required to establish a baseline for good judgement
  • Shared moods require mutual consent (no tricks)
  • Mood can be picked up and possibly stored in art

Is there archeology for moods?

I’ve been trying to frame moods as public art recently… Trans-Horse (as an example) is as an artwork, best understood as a mood because that’s how it effected it’s audiences and what it is leaving behind (there is no monument). I started to think about this after reading a review by Maaria Ylikangas Hevosen avulla tutkitaan tilaa ja aikaa (2014). In the text she accounts her experience of the artwork and explains that even if she didn’t see the work, she got to know what it is like to move in the landscape with a horse. This happened by learning about what we were doing (trough twitter, radio broadcasts, articles) and combining this with with her personal experiences with horses (and other critical texts). I’ll use her case as an example were an artwork set a mood (and that was all the artwork did).