The previous day, after our workshop, we had left Lapinlahti for a meeting with artist and lecturer Owen Kelly. The three of us spent the early evening in Ruoholahti discussing ongoing projects and by the time we returned to the hospital to tidy up after the workshop, the organisers were closing the building for the day.
So Saturday began with a quick jaunt to hospital to gather up all the workshop leftovers and leave the space ready for another day of activity. After that we decided to visit Kiasma, Helsinki’s contemporary art museum, which was hosting two works as part of the festival; Channel Surfers and Tazebao.
We walked from the hospital to the museum, getting close we noticed a lot of people seemingly all going to the same place as us. A popular place for a Saturday visit we deduced, until we saw bundles of green balloons bobbing around the equestrian statue of Finnish leader and statesman Carl Mannerheim; we had forgotten the details of part of our discussions with Owen the day before, namely that the anti racism demonstration that was happening today would be grouping at Kiasma. We wove our way through the balloon bearing crowd that was gathering and entered the museum. On our exit, the demonstration was about to begin, marching from the sculpture garden at the back of Kiasma to the Senate square. We walked up onto the bridge that rises beside the sculpture garden and joined a mass of reporters with large lensed cameras and general passers by who, like us, had been attracted by the trilling whistles of some fifteen thousand protestors.
With food on the agenda again, it was time to return to the hospital for lunch, generously provided for contributors by the festival. Walking through the city that day I couldn’t help but notice an abundance of fruit on a variety of trees; apples, crab apples, swedish whitebeam, rosehips and others I am not familiar with. I wondered if anyone was running a project along the lines of Abundance in Sheffield and Jake noted we would later meet with Tuomo Tammenpää who might know more about whether anything like this is happening in Helsinki.
Continuing the focus on fruit, lunch was followed by our encounter with Bart Vandeput aka Bataku, who was presenting his work Berry Babe as a performative installation in the hospital building. We discussed the incidence and nature of the aronia berry and plant, which he has focused on in his practice for a few years.
The directors had asked us to contribute to the the festival’s evening conversation To be with Human as audience members; Jake had some questions regarding experiencing the contrast between wilderness and city environments for artist Antti Tenetz, who spends a lot of time in the northern lakes area of Finland. Before joining the seminar, we took a walk around the park to view the interventions comprising My Neighbour, the Squirrel, encountering some of the birds from our own workshop still in situ, albeit merging with the material of their immediate environments.
Image credits: Jake Harries and Monika Dutta