growing darkness

art, recent work

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All these photos are by Reino Koivula. Thanks a lot, Reiska!

Growing darkness in the yard of Åbo/Turku municipal library; “Pimeyden kodat” (“Cots of darkness”) exhibition can be seen during the library’s opening hours until August 31st.

On returning from Finland, I spent two weeks in the Land of Mir (temporarily located outside the exotic city of Södertälje) together with old and new friends. No photos, but for documentation from last year, see  Archives/July 2008.
And right now, I’m writing up the course in aesthetic-based qualitative research.

Daylight is shortening by minutes, a larger bell of darkness awaiting.

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working Darkness VI

art, recent work

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Today’s my last day at Titanik. The Darkness workshop will go on for another week, though, with Reiska, Timo, Simo Helenius and others. Finally it will end up with an exhibition in the yard of the public library, just across Aura river.

Thunder and rain reached Åbo/Turku yesterday – just after my last writing. I will not accomplish the felting of the large bell here and now, since it needs to be done outdoors and preferably in warm weather.
However, the smaller, experimental piece turned out quite well.
I start the day by giving it a nice shave, using a shepherd’s scissors.
Then I set to finish my things here, packing the car for going to the ferry.

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If I leave something behind, it means I’ll be back some day.

Pina Bausch 1940 – 2009

art, beauty, time-out

In Venice, a truly magnificent thunderstorm passed by during the night between Friday and Saturday; sounding like canonades, turning electricity off, and – lights out – pouring rain over the city for hours.

Saturday night – June 27th – at the dance biennale, the Compagnia dell’Accademia Nazionale di Danza di Roma performed a show at Teatro Piccolo Arsenale.
The first piece was announced beforehand as an homage by Pina Bausch to the company: a short solo, elaborated from Bausch’s choreography Nefes (‘Breath’), by Cristiana Morganti of Wupperthal Tanztheater;

sudden spotlights on; and a red-dressed woman dancing like a flame of joy, all alone in the large scene space, never a moment of hesitation or doubt until, too soon, conclusion; dance ending as abruptly as its beginning.

After a short pause, the second piece, Da ora in poi by Jacopo Godani;

the whole company on stage, men and women alike all dressed in dark, and again this softness and staccato, blending into hermaphroditic beauty; Hermes and Aphrodite; flow; transmission of movement taking priority over manifestation of individualities; and, at a certain moment, all sitting low on scene floor; some movement upwards, spotlights flashlighting the high-up ceiling and a hundred fingertips tapping like raindrops, then dark again; last night’s thunder and rain recreated within the Arsenale building; soon transforming to a movement like walking underwater; then transforming again…

On Thursday, June 25th, German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch was diagnosed with cancer. On Tuesday, June 30th, she passed away.

working Darkness V

art, recent work




Darkness workshop at Titanik; three photos by Reino Koivula

In Åbo/Turku, the Darkness workshop continues, and, returning from Venice, Reiska and I join in again.
One three-dimensional piece of felt is produced by using a smaller part of the bell-shaped textile form; the technique works out well, but the gutefår wool seems too coarse to make good felt. From now on, I will use only the wool from the värmlandsfår breed.

090701 9 Today is warm and sunny, so I move outside to work. People stop to look, and some share their experiences of wool, sheep and feltmaking. I hear stories about felt soles being made out in the Finnish archipelago and sold in the town’s fishmarket; about coalmining in Australia and its fatal consequences for sheep; I hear memories from travelling in Kyrgyzstan as well as arguments for vegan activism. Somebody remembers his childhood, when clothes weren’t bought but made by the mother from hand-spun and handwoven wool – that was northern Finland in the 1940’s.
All these stories go through me, down into the whirl of dark hair I’m working.

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Venice reflections


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Light installation by Spencer Finch
and Buddha’s hand sculptures by Huang Yong Ping
(Fare Mondi/Making Worlds at Arsenale)

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Latex sheet used for the cleaning of a wall at the Doge’s palace in Venice
by Jorge Otero-Pailos, theorist of architecture and contemporary preservation
(Fare Mondi/Making Worlds at Arsenale)

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Arsenale spaces

To perceive such a mass of artworks as in the Venice Biennale, one will have to do some coding – consciously or not. The simplest way is perceiving by like or dislike, and it’s not a bad one. However, I try adding some more categories, like: does this artwork express critique, or is it an act of celebration? Do I perceive it mainly as communication – horizontally – or does it open to the vertical dimension as well? Is it conceptional, or… what?
Much contemporary art springs from concept. Only a few works succeed in transcending it; like few sperms ever reach an egg.

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Tomas Saraceno’s Black Widow spider web
in the large, enlightened central space of the international pavillion;
Nathalie Djurberg’s inverted Garden of Eden in the dark room underneath
(Fare Mondi/Making Worlds at Giardini)

Good curating, though, can provide meaning also to what otherwise might appear abortive. At the Biennale’s international exhibition venues – Fare Mondi/Making Worlds – there is rhythm and lightness to the curating, bringing the works in tune.
I add rhythm as another coding category.

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outdoor stools, above;
sculptural installation by Richard Wentworth, below
(both at Arsenale)

How do these categories coincide, overlap or differ?
Do I, for instance, always like those pieces made in celebration of something which I can attach myself to – like humanistic values? No. Can I keep disliking a work when the curating connects it to some other in a meaningful way? No. Now, this is fun…

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Styrofoam sculpture by Carsten Höller at Arsenale, above;
two photos from Giardini, below

And then, suddenly, something seizes me and I leave all questions behind.
It’s art.

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Ttéia I; gold thread in square forms, by Brazilian artist Lygia Pape