We had arrived in Helsinki the previous afternoon but spent our time checking in to our apartment and getting very dazed and confused in the extremely large supermarket we found a few minutes up the road; I never thought butter would be so hard find, or that I could spend so long looking at sausages. By coincidence, accident, or some elusive force we might call intuition, I ended up unwittingly picking out sausages which Jake later discovered to be made of elk meat, rye and barley for our first dinner. Comparable to venison and other game, ordinarily our preferred meat of choice, the rukiinen riistaryynäri went down very well.
The next morning we headed straight to Pixelache2016 festival’s main venue, Lapinlahti Hospital; no longer the psychiatric institution it once was, now undergoing a transformation into a cultural hub for Helsinki citizens and visitors, the grand building nestles in a peaceful wooded park, backed by the northernmost bay of Helsinki’s West Harbour. I found berries before we got to the main entrance.
Inside we soon encountered Petri Ruikka, this years co-director, who furnished us with our welcome packs and invited us to meet co-director Mari Keski-Korsu later at the opening of INSITU : Sonic Greenhouse at the Winter Garden.
Sitting down first to coffee and cake from the Lapinlahti cafe, we were joined by Andrew Gryf Paterson and he and Jake caught up on not so old times. He suggested we visit another of the Pixelache cohort, John Fail, in his new venture Temporary.
First, we walked through the city, via the long strip of water and park that runs through the centre, to the Winter Garden, where we encountered the sonic intervention INSITU. The glasshouse is over a hundred years old and houses an amazing array of exotics, amongst which the speakers constructed of glass sheets sent out an ambient sonic scape which perfectly complemented the contemplative nature of the space.
Heading off to Temporary, we walked the other side of the water and crossed the swathe of railway lines that reach from the north into the centre of the city.
Our visit to Temporary constituted us taking part in one of their Open Day experiments, in which we were each logged as ‘Anonymous person’ and awarded a credit note for 10Temps, Temporary’s new crypto-currency.
The space was also hosting Marc Dusseiller’s Empathetic Taxidermia Lab as part of Pixelache2016. Jake took some pictures.
Perversely, it was time to find lunch, and Andrew had also directed us to Helsinki’s covered market, which he told us was ‘full of food’. It was only round the corner, and on the way back to Lapinlahti, perfect stop for a traditional Karelian pasty and some smoked pork for later.
Back at the hospital it was time for the official festival opening and address from Petri Ruikka and Mari Keski-Korsu, followed by a very interesting presentation from Katri Saarikivi on the Science of Empathy, and Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo presenting Messengers Between Worlds reflecting on her novel Blood of Angels.
Image credit: Jake Harries and Monika Dutta