All around the world we are dealing with, in our own way, COVID-19. For many of us, we are or have been homebound. This time has given us the opportunity to challenge what it means to be together and to find new ways of creating, figuring out, and learning. 2B, a class of second graders at Ressu Comprehensive School in Helsinki, Finland have reached out to kids living in the USA, Taiwan, New Zealand and South Africa to see what their experience has been like during March to May 2020.
2B: What kind of rules do you have to follow in your country? 在你的国家你有什麼的規則？Minkälaisia sääntöjä teidän täytyy noudattaa maassanne?
AO Helsinki: In Finland we cannot go to parties or anything like that.
MC NYC: We cannot visit friends. We have social distance. We can’t play team sports. We have to wear a mask when we are going to be near others. We can’t go to school. It’s really boring.
NC NYC: We have to social distance and stay away from others. We can’t go to school or visit our friends, and we have to wear a mask or face covering when we are going to be in close proximity with others.
CS Helsinki: In Finland we have to stay away from other people. For example, we can't go to parks or birthday parties.
JT Cape Town: We have to stay at home all the freaking time!!!!!!
SS Helsinki: We are trying not to go much outside, stay home and stay safe. Whenever we are going out , we are wearing a mouth mask , we are not going that close to people, we are not touching anything outside and we are washing our hand very good.
K&C Xinyin: 戴口罩，勤洗手，外出活動時，須保持室內1.5公尺，室外1公尺以上的社交距離。(Wear a mask, wash hands frequently, and keep a social distance of 1.5 meters indoors and more than 1 meter outdoors when we go out.)
Hunter Christchurch: social distancing and not going out when you dont need to
2B: How many times do you go to the shop in a week? Are you allowed to go to the shop? 您每週有幾次去超市？你有允許去商店购买嗎？Kuinka monta kertaa viikossa käyt kaupassa? Saatko käydä kaupassa?
AL Helsinki: We go about 2-3 times a week. Usually my mom doesn’t let my sister or me go to the shop.
MC NYC: Only one person from the household. Someone in our family goes once a week.
NC NYC: We go about once a week. Only one person from each household is allowed to go, so I don’t go.
CS Helsinki : My dad goes to the shop once or twice a week.
LH Helsinki: Well about 1-2 a week. Helsinki
LS Helsinki In Finland we can go to the shop but I dont go to the shop. I order food.
MD Helsinki: I don’t often but sometimes, for example yesterday, me and my mum went to
buy a football and a skateboard for me.
JT Cape Town: I am not allowed to go just one of my parents go to the shop once a week and only for food.
K&C Xinyin: 隨時都可以去超市，我們每週至少會去一次。(You can go to the supermarket at any time, we will go at least once a week.)
Hunter Christchurch: about 3 times a week
2B: How often do you go outside? 你几次可以出门？Kuinka usein käyt ulkona?
MC NYC: Almost every day. We go rollerblading, scooting and skateboarding at the park.
NC NYC: We go outside almost every day. We go to the park, and we rollerblade, scooter, skateboard, and play soccer there.
CS Helsinki: We go out mostly just to go biking, scooting and skateboarding.
JT Cape Town: We can only go outside in our yard we slack line and jog around the house.
SS Helsinki: We are going outside for walk and only for 20 or 30 minutes.
K&C Xinyin: 我們每天都能上學，生活一切正常。(We can go to school every day and everything is normal.)
Hunter Christchurch: everyday, we have a large section
2B: Do you feel trapped in your home? 你有被困在家裡的感覺嗎？Tuntuuko sinusta siltä, että olet kuin vankilassa kun olet kotona?
MC NYC: Yes.
NC NYC: No, because we have a big house and we have a backyard and basement.
CS Helsinki: No because we go out quite often but we wear masks for safety.
LH Helsinki: Sometimes.
ET Helsinki: Yes, sometimes even though we have a back yard and a forest nearby.
LS Helsinki No I do not feel trapped in my house.
JT Cape Town:Yes i feel kind of trapped but we do have a big property.
K&C Xinyin: 沒有喔!我們可以正常出門。(Nope, we can go as usual.)
Hunter Christchurch: no
2B: Do you get homework and if you do how much? 你的学校有没有给你功课做? 是不是很多? Saatko kotitehtäviä ja jos kyllä, niin kuinka paljon?
MC NYC: Sometimes we get a little. Sometimes a lot.
NC NYC: I get homework almost every day, and sometimes it’s a lot, sometimes, it’s a little.
Yes, but a good amount.
CS Helsinki: Yes, but a good amount.
SJ Helsinki: Yes, enough.
JT Cape Town: Yes, enough.
SS Helsinki: Yes,I am getting lots of homework and I am completing all the homework on the same day.
K&C Xinyin: 每天都有功課。(There’s homework every day.)
Hunter Christchurch: yes and i get normal amount
2B: What do you do when you are bored at home? What do you do for fun? 你在家会觉无聊嗎？你有没有好玩的事情可以做嗎？Mitä teet kun sinulla on tulsa kotona? Mitä teet kun haluat pitää hauskaa?
MC NYC: Video games, reading, legos, and drawing.
CS Helsinki: Legos, Video games, unfinished handicrafts and reading
NC NYC: When I am bored, I normally read, play legos, or work on a school project. For fun, I read, play board games, watch TV, play legos, draw, and work on projects.
ET Helsinki: I call my friends, go outside to play with my sister and Mum, bake with my Mum and siblings, draw & paint, play inside.
SJ Helsinki: Play legos and board games.
JT Cape town: I play video games, watch tv and do backflips.
SS Helsinki : I play with my toys,watch tablet and also doing lot of planting.
K&C Xinyin: 不會，我們喜歡在家，可以做自己喜歡的事情。(No, we like to be at home because we can do what we like.)
KD Helsinki: I read, play on my tablet, do scratch on my computer, and play lego, cricket, football
Hunter Christchurch: play playstation, or with the cats or on roblox
2B: Even though you are at home, can you get food from school? 即使您在家，你可以从学校拿午餐回来吗? Kuitenkin kun olet kotona, voitko saada koulusta ruoat?
MC NYC: Yes. Families can pick up food from the school.
NC NYC: Yes, people are able to pick up food from school to eat.
CS Helsinki : Yes but we don't do it.
SJ Helsinki: Yes. but we don't go get it.
JT Cape Town: Not in our area, but other areas.
KD Helsinki: Yeah but I don’t go to get it. I like my home’s food most.
SS Helsinki: Yes, but we are not going to the school to get the food.
K&C Xinyin: 也許不可以。(Maybe not.)
Hunter Christchurch: no
2B: How do you feel when you’re at home? 你在家感觉如何? Miltä tuntuu kun olet kotona?
MC NYC: Happy and bored.
NC NYC: When I am home, I feel bored, happy, and energetic.
CS Helsinki: Bored, Cheerful, and restless.
SJ Helsinki: Bored. Happy.
JT Cape Town: I am happy.
SS Helsinki : I am having mixed feeling , sometimes I feel happy to play on my tablet and sometimes I feel sad because i can’t go out to play.
K&C Xinyin: 我很喜歡在家，但是每天都要上學。(I really like to be at home, but I have to go to school every day.)
KD Helsinki: I feel weird and far from my friends
Hunter Christchurch: the same as how i feel usually
2B: Do you have distance learning? If so, how do you feel about homeschooling? 你有没有长王陆学习? 假如这样你觉得怎么样? Onko sinulla etäopetusta? Jos kyllä, miltä tuntuu sinusta etäopetus?
MC NYC: We are home schooling and it is okay. What I like about it is I still get to my friends on Zoom.
NC NYC: We still have distance learning. I like it because the school work is easier and school takes less time. Also, I get to stay home, sleep in, take breaks when I feel like it, and watch TV every night.
CS Helsinki: We have home schooling and I like it because you can do everything at your own pace and you can see your friends even if you're at home.
SJ Helsinki: Good. I like when I can see my friends on Google Meet.
JT Cape Town: I don't really like home schooling.
SS Helsinki : Yes , We have distance learning and I am ok with it.
K&C Xinyin: 目前沒有，不過學校有讓我們在家練習過! (Not right now, but the school has let us practice at home!)
KD Helsinki: Yes I have distance learning going on. It is good as far as studies are concerned, however I feel really bad when I don’t get a chance to meet my teachers, friends. I miss playing football at school in the afternoon club.
Hunter Christchurch: yes and i feel ok with it. its a bit harder without a teacher
2B: What do you do to protect yourself from Corona / Covid-19? 您如何保護自己免受Corona / Covid-19的侵害? Miten suojaudut koronalta?
MC NYC: We wear masks and stay at home, and wash our hands.
NC NYC: We wear masks, social distance, minimize going outside, and wash our hands.
CS Helsinki: We wear masks, wash our food deliveries, social distancing and wash our hands.
SJ Helsinki: I don’t go to the store or see my friends. I was my hands. My mom washes our grocery deliveries.
JT Cape Town: Stay home. Wash hands.
SS Helsinki : I keep myself at home and not go outside too much. I am washing my hands regularly.
K&C Xinyin: 常常洗手，外出 戴口罩。 (Wash your hands often, when you go out wear a mask.)
KD Helsinki: To protect myself wear a turtleneck to protect myself because I don’t have a proper mask.
Hunter Christchurch: i stay home
2B: Can you leave your home? If so, can you use public transportation like we can in Finland? 你可以離開家嗎？你可以公共交通跟我们在芬兰一样嗎？Voitko päästä ulos kotoa? Jos niin, voitko käyttää julkista liikennettä kuten voimme Suomessa?
MC NYC: Yes we can leave our home. Yes but mostly only essential workers take public transportation now.
NC NYC: We can still leave our home, and public transportation is still available, but it is mostly only used by essential workers.
CS Helsinki : We can go outside but our family doesn't use public transportation.
JT Cape Town: We can not leave our home.
SS Helsinki : We are going out for short walk but we are not using any public transportation.
K&C Xinyin: 我們可以離開家，但是盡量避免搭大眾運輸工具。(We can leave home, but try to avoid taking public transportation.)
Hunter Christchurch: yes and yes
2B: Are you scared of the Coronavirus? 你害怕吗? Pelkäätkö Koronavirusta?
MC NYC: No I’m not scared.
NC NYC: No I’m not scared.
KH Helsinki: I am not scared of the coronavirus.
CS Helsinki: Nope, I am not scared of COVID 19.
MD Helsinki: I am not scared of CORONA/COVID-19 at all.
JT Cape Town: no
SS Helsinki : I am not scared.
K&C Xinyin: 不害怕。(Not afraid.)
KD Helsinki: I am not scared of corona but I feel worried about the people with corona.
Hunter Christchurch: no because it hasn’t affected me
2B: In your country, when did the lockdown start? 在你的国家什么时候开始近足处们? Sinun maassasi, milloin sisälle suojautuminen alkoi?
MC NYC: 5 weeks in NY of staying at home.
NC NYC: In NY, it has been five weeks since the lockdown started.
CS Helsinki: End of march but our family started the lockdown in mid march.
JT Cape Town: 26th of March
SS Helsinki : Mid of march.
K&C Xinyin: 沒有。(We don’t have.)
KD Helsinki: It started in mid March. When it was my friend Aarne’s birthday.
Hunter Christchurch: 25th March
2B: Do you know when you can go back to school? 你知道什麼時候可以回學校嗎？Tiedätkö milloin voit mennä takaisin kouluun?
MC NYC: No, but maybe next year.
KH Helsinki: I don’t know but maybe in the middle of May.
CS Helsinki: maybe mid may.
NC NYC: No, but it will probably next year in September.
JT Cape Town: Do not know, but maybe June.
SS Helsinki: I don’t know , maybe next year.
K&C Xinyin: 我們正常上學。(We go to school normally.)
KD Helsinki: Well maybe in August
AT Helsinki: We just found out that we will go back to school on May 14th.
Hunter Christchurch: no, not yet
2B: Is toilet paper where you live expensive? 你们那里的卫生纸很贵吗? Onko vessapaperi kallista missä asut?
MC NYC: Not really but sometimes there is none, or some at the store.
NC NYC: Not really, but sometimes there is none at the store, or only a little bit.
CS Helsinki : We usually order two packets of toilet paper from the store but sometimes there comes only one.
JT Cape Town: No.
SS Helsinki : It is not expensive.
K&C Xinyin: 不會。(No.)
KD Helsinki: It is not expensive in Finland.
Hunter Christchurch: no, NZ$9 for 18 rolls of 4ply
Thank you for everybody's openness and willingness to share. We are in this together!
I am very honoured to have been asked to write an article for Ottiya Empathy Issue. I focused on my Dear You art project, which brings together children, artists, and educators from around the world through mail art exchange. Pigeon carriers to the rescue! Click here to read the whole article, Me + You = Us.
Allie Pasquier picked my brain regarding empathy. You can read the interview here.
Thank you for all the support and encouragement!
The second graders at Ressu comprehensive school have been investigating How does food change? Where does our food come from? and What kind of communities and what kind of relationships are found within and between food? Every student chose a food to research these aspects. Along with traditional methods of researching, we also used art as a medium to explore our findings and fuel our curiosity. Naturally, one question led to another.
It was serendipity that one of the works on display at Kiasma, as part of the Coexistence exhibition, fit perfectly with our topic. Kalle Hamm & Dzamil Kamanger's Immigrant Garden / Emigranttitarha / Emigrantgården "consists of four parts: a collection of plant illustrations, a map, a book, and audio works. The watercolour studies portray various ornamental and edible plants that are commonly found in Finland, but which are all originally non-native" (Kiasma).
I was lucky enough to meet Kalle and Dzamil last spring so felt the comfort to reach out to them. Here, again, as lucky art goers, we bumped into each other at Kiasma the other day when we were taking a tour of the exhibition. Kalle and Dzamil agreed to make an interview with us as their artwork is so relevant to us, in every way possible. They said yes!
Arlene: I asked one of my students what part of the trip he liked and he said ”meeting Kalle”. : )
Kalle: :-D Say my greetings to him!
2B: Why did you start making this project?
K&D: Dzamil noticed that here in Finland grow the same plants than in his home country Iran, but they are smaller and grow in pots and greenhouses, not in wild nature like in Iran. We wondered how these plants had found their way to Finland, and this is how we started to track the travelling routes of the plants, and this was the beginning of making the whole piece.
2B: What made you choose the plants to research?
K&D: We chose that kind of plants, which should be known by most of the Finns, and had been cultivated here already hundreds of years (for example potato and onion), but none of them are originally from Finland, either Europe, but imported here form other continents.
2B: How did it feel when you were making the artwork?
K&D: When everything went well it felt hilarious and fun, but when we had obstacles it felt extremely stressful and we just wanted to start to do something else.
2B: How did you make this art?
K&D: We read lots of books to study how the plants travelled from their home area here. We bought lots of seeds and planted them and grew the plants by ourselves (not in Kiasma, but when we made the artwork first time). We practiced drawing flowers and made many plant drawings. We also recorded many plants and made sound pieces based on that material.
2B: How did you know how to draw plants? Was it fun drawing the plants?
K&D: I studied drawing in the art school, but you can also learn drawing plants without going to art school. You just have to see the plants very carefully and draw exactly what you see. Drawing plants is fun. They don't change their position, move or run away. They stay nicely still. But you have to water them or otherwise they will wilt.
2B: When did you start this project?
K&D: We started to make this art work 14 years ago and it took two years to make it ready.
2B: How long did it take for you to finish this project? Is it finished?
K&D: It is finished in such way, that we don’t add more new plants to the artwork, but every time when we install the whole artwork, we have to think about how everything should be set up: what kind of pots, what kind of chairs and etc...
2B: Which plant sound do you think is the most relaxing?
K&D: Of course potato!!!
2B: Out of all the plants you researched, which one is the oldest?
2B: What was your favourite plant?
K&D: Persian yellow rose
2B: What surprised you about that plant?
K&D: Plants sound totally different comparing to what they look like!
2B: Which one was the hardest to find information on?
K&D: Garden mignonette
2B: Which one was the weirdest?
K&D: Artichoke had the weirdest sound, even thou I love the taste and look of artichoke
2B: What was the first plant you researched?
K&D: Persian hogweed, but it is not part of this artwork :-(
2B: Did you first sketch your drawing or draw them straight away onto the paper?
Kalle: I first sketched them very lightly on very same paper I used for the final drawing. I made quite many mistakes, and I had to redraw atleast 5-6 drawings.
2B: How old are you now? When were you born? Where were you born?
Kalle: 50 years, born in Rauma (Finland) in 1969
Dzamil: 72 years, born in Mariwan (Iran) in 1948
2B: How old were you when you made your first piece of art? What was it?
Kalle: I think I was age of 16. I had then my first exhibition. It was a drawing a man holding a woman in a desert.
Dzamil said he cannot remember exactly, but he made his first embroideries in age of 30-32. It was a birthday present to his friend.
2B: Was your dream to become an artist? How did you get the idea of becoming an artist?
Kalle: Yes it was, but I didn’t know what kind of artists. I wrote poems, played flute and acted in children’s theatre group. And of course drew a lot.
2B: Where do you live?
Kalle: We both live in Oulunkylä, Helsinki.
2B: How many artworks have you made? What kind of art?
K&D: You can count them on our website www.beelsebub.org. and see what kind of artworks we have made.
2B: Do you have kids?
Kalle: I don’t have kids, but Dzamil has a son. He is living in Stockholm.
2B: Have you ever had a different profession, other than being an artist?
Kalle: Yes, I was working as a principle of the art school for children and young people. I was also working in Kiasma as an educational curator. Dzamil worked as a forester in Iran.
2B: Do you have a pet? If so, what is it?
Kalle: Not any more. Dzamil had a dog, but he passed away many years ago. Dzamil had also canary birds, and lots of them, about 70-80 all together. They had they own room. They sang very loudly.
2B: Do you like your art?
Kalle: Yes, we both like art!!! …and we hope you like art, too!
The list would go on, but here are some comments from the students about Kalle and Hamm's work:
"I think it's really good artwork"
"I love your art. It was interesting"
"I felt amazing when I saw your art"
"I liked the potato sound because it sounded like it was playing rock n roll"
"I felt excited about learning about the plants"
"I felt great!"
"The drawings were beautiful"
"The drawings look very real"
Thank you very much for taking the time to share with us!
XOXO Arlene & 2B
Arlene Tucker is an artist and educator currently based in Helsinki, Finland.