Taivaassa is Finnish for ‘in the sky’ or ‘in heaven’. Pipoca (Paola de Ramos) has curated a small exhibition of international artists at the artist house Hirvitalo, or elk house, in Pispala in West Tampere in central Finland, and the title chosen by the group ties together their disparate work, connecting them with thoughts of water, rain, falling, creatures of the sky, ducks, birds, creation myths.
One audio piece by Yoojin Lee hums constantly. Riitta Hakkarainen and myself are staying in the high attic room in the building and we hear it through the hours of 2pm-7pm when the exhibition is open to the public. Her piece echoes the motion of the earth. ‘Tell me how the world is falling’ she says, in a dull monotone as the notes of a synthesiser sound repeatedly in the background, the motif providing a background for scientific notes about gravity and artistic thoughts about grace. Yoojin has made a site specific piece in that she has used the times of sunrise and sunset to inform her piece. ‘You can fall out of things, you fall into things,’ she says. The theme is decline and decrease and was created in collaboration with artist/noisemaker Giuseppe Termine. I enjoy the deconstruction of words that stutter as she repeats consonants. I enjoy the scientific terminology among the descriptions.
In the adjoining room is a tongue of text falling from an embroidered mouth. A live performance is remembered in this audio and wall piece. Rosa Farber wrote the initial work which was curated by Julia Kothe and was performed in a flat in Glasgow’s West End in May 2019 and was titled Domestic Rhythms: In terms of Tentacles. Taking part were Rosa Farber, Jina Song, Clair Curtin, Martina Morger and Tara Marshall-Tierney. The lyrics of the song fall out of the mouth in a poem. It is a contribution to Extinction Rebellion to my eyes ‘extinction, extinction’ the tongue declaims. ‘CHILDREN we won’t expect them to dream’.
Downstairs are masks brought by artist Paola de Ramos. Based on three creatures of the air, two birds and one insect, they have been enhanced with sticks collected in the woods nearby and tied with rags to create three beings. Partly god, partly nature, partly comic, partly colourful they have a vibrant energy. Across the room there is a composite cut out on the wall, a black and white photograph made of multiple performers, a tower of three.crow figures. It is a dancing totem pole.
Darya Apakhonchich has created a series of prints with political intent. Using glitter words she obliquely comments on the rape of the land by industrialisation and mechanical process. She is a founding member of a group engaging in policial art and deals mainly with patriotic myths, language and power. She is a curator of the feminist space, ‘Eve’s Ribs’ in St Petersburg, Russia.
Riitta Hakkarainen is working on a Kalevala-based piece, reimagining rune singers in colourful wall characters. The figures hold hands after the style of photographs of the old singers. They sing to each other in mysterious squiggles. They are engaging composites of Kalevala characters. Beard and boobs and beak on one figure, Ilmatar pregnant with a chair. An antlered blue figure with a mouth full of teeth, sitting on a three-legged stool.
It is so hot that the series of videos are not able to be constantly played. Colour Music (2019) by Ana Maria Lima Dimitrijevic is loop of a digital film projection with piano music. The piece is an exercise in concentration and consciousness. The artist is exploring aspects of colour and sound and the relation between the two, evoking experiments in synaesthesia and moving image. It is the most abstract piece in the show. Feel the pleasures of raw materials (2019) by Rosa Farber uses recordings from a singing workshop held by Molly and Rosa Irwin-Clark of the song ‘Housewife’s Lament’ (circa 1850). This song is subtitled with updated or rescripted lyrics which together with images of a farm in West Sussex explores the concept of lament for the earth. The nostalgia for farm life, the mourning of changing countryside and precariousness of our agricultural habitat is explored in this sensitive film which uses avant-garde techniques of alienation. Ilmatar (2019) by Riitta Hakkarainen is an animation depicting the heavenly sky-maiden who breaks the eggs of a goldeneye duck to create the world.
The final film, Tracie, Rescue Bird (2019) by Jude Cowan Montague (myself) is a series of slide images from a zine which tells ‘a little story of my friend Tracie who is an animal rescue volunteer and runs a dress shop in Blackheath, London’. A few of the blue risoprint zines are included in their physical form three large scroll-like works, or wall hangings made here by myself, riffing on images and ideas from the Kalevala. Riitta Hakkarainen and myself have been investigating the stories but found the male-centred epic left us little to identify with as feminist women. The scrolls are one part of our joint exploration and reimagination of the nineteenth century work, compiled and constructed by Elias Lönnrot, the physician and philologist who put together the extended poem which occupies a central place in the story of Finnish national identity. The scrolls go into imaginary re-constructs with pink eggs falling from the sky, birthed by Ilmatar, falling past the moon and changing as they fall into humans.
Lining the stairs are sketches and short prose poems on mythology and observation. Alexei is going to St Petersburg but never gets there. His cat, riding on his shoulder, is philosophical. The goddess Lovitar is pregnant with nine sons and one daughter. She stands firm , decorated in bird tattoos. Tapio the tree god is represented by an ancient tree on the side of the lake. One man wants to hug him. A woman wonders if he wants to be hugged. Another man shouts, ‘hugging trees is boring, I’ve got my axe,’ and walks purposefully off with his instrument of destruction. A baby climbs upwards to the promised heaven of Lintukoto where little people live beneath the dome of the sky and all the birds go when they migrate.
All these pieces are displayed in Hirvitalo, Hirvikatu, Pispala, West Tampere, Finland.
Exhibition dates: 13 July – 1 August 2019
Artists: Darya Apakhonchich, Mariana Barros, Ana Maria Lima Dimitrijevic, Rosa Farber, Riitta Hakkarainen, Yoojin Lee, Jude Cowan Montague, Pipoca, Ania PsH, r-tiiika, Vishna Vardhani