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!
We are happy to announce that Mechanics of Conformity (MOC) will bring a "dialogue-based piece" to Mänttä Art Festival this year.
”TO ERR IS HUMAN”
We have worked over the last three years to thoroughly investigate our personal and collective relations to hair and its inevitable sociopolitical inter-relational contexts. We also focused on facilitating conversations through "hair and art making" and here we go!! We are super thankful to everyone who participated, shared and listened to us with openness, trust and interest.
The festival is open from June 14 to August 31, 2020.
Thank you Anna Ruth, the curator of the exhibition, for the inclusion. And thank you Suomen Kulttuurirahasto for their support.
To read more about Mänttä Art Festival, please click here. MOC got a mention in Aamulehti. We are honoured to share this experience with so many talented artists.
Everybody is warmly welcome. See you at Mänttä!
Rosamaría, Edwina, Sepideh and Arlene
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!
Can we communicate science to a broader audience using art? Is science lost in translation?
A team of scientists from INAR (Institute of Atmosphere and Earth System Research of University of Helsinki) and Finnish Meteorological Institute and artists from Helsinki Urban Art worked together to bring climate science to the streets using urban art.
They co-designed a public wall that joins climate research, art and literary symbols of Alice in Wonderland. The finished Climate Wall is painted in Alppila (Kotkankatu 5), and includes the twitter address of the research institute so you can ask scientists questions anytime!
We welcome you to the public inauguration of the Climate Wall! The team of artists and scientists will discuss the trans-disciplinary work to go from graphs to mural, and open the discussion on merging science and art projects.
Welcome to join our discussion! We speak English and Finnish.
Sunday, December 8, 2019 from 13:00-15:00
Töölönlahdenkatu 4, 00100 Helsinki
13:00 - 14:00 -- Public presentation the Climate Wall and open discussion on the importance of science-art projects.
13:30-15:00 -- Children's art workshop: "The Art of Asking Questions", led by art educator Arlene Tucker.
-----About the Art Workshop------
‘The Art of Asking Questions’ gives people of all ages to make art out of the unknown, to combine art with science, and to open dialogue about our personal questions regarding the environment and climate change. Your questions will fuel the artistic process and in turn, a scientist will answer your question. The workshop will use elements of graphic design and the creation of fonts as a means to make art, make your voice heard and feed your curiosity.
The main topic of Art and Immigration: Looking for Identity public talk is the existence of an artist and an artwork outside of their familiar cultural and lingual context. How does an art, its topics, artistic techniques and the artist’s perception changes in immigration? What happens to the artist’s personal and art identity?
Anastasia Trizna. Freelance Actress
Roxana Crisologo Correa. Poetess
Márton Jelinkó. Filmmaker
Moe Mustafa. Visual artist and theatre director
Moderator: Arlene Tucker. Artist and educator
Art and Immigration: looking for identity. Public Talk
November 11, 17:00
Musiikkitalo. Mannerheimintie 13 A
Language: English, Russian
JUST AS SOCIETY BECOMES A CONCENTRATION OF DIVERSE CULTURES, THE POINT WHERE THEY INTERSECT, SO TOO IS A CROSSROAD, A PLACE WHERE ROADS COME TOGETHER.
Very excited to announce that our article, Process as the medium for socially engaged art, has been published in IMAG#7! Big thanks to InSEA and the editorial team- Ângela Saldanha, Bernadette Thomas and Teresa Torres de Eça.
"IMAG number 7 presents a collage of different essays created by InSEA members. When we initiated this issue we wanted to make visible the diverse range of art education practices in formal and non-formal settings and to invite the readers to engage in a visual journey; a process of ‘encountering others’. There is no filter on what should or should not constitute art education. Rather, here we have a mosaic of approaches; of ways of making and ways of understanding the role of art education in the schools, museums; universities and communities. We travel according to the last InSEA roads through the encounters generated during InSEA seminars and congresses. The journal opens with a story told by Steve Willis, current Vice President of InSEA, where he shares impressions, feelings and thoughts about his experience during the InSEA seminar in Walvis Bay, Namibia (Encounters with Otherness to achieve Knowingness).
As our journey continues, the reader meets Korinna Korsström Maggatröm-Magga (North Calling); Anastasia Artemeva and Arlene Tucker (Process as the medium for socially engaged art); Phivi Antoniou (Cyprus) and Dina Adel Hassan (Egypt). The northern authors reveal community art practices and social engaged intercultural projects in Finland and Russia. In the same section a different encounter invites the reader to learn about other socially engaged art education experiments in Alexandria, Egypt, with Dina Adel Hassan who describes using images, an experience conducted with Children at Risk in Egypt."
Download The full ISSUE ( PDF 17,9 MB) or individual chapters.
Otherness as a Form of Knowingness
Process as the medium for socially engaged art
Anastasia Artemeva and Arlene Tucker
Field Experiments in Visual Arts: Children at Risk, Homeless Children
Dina Adel Hassan
People, Stories and Histories of Strovolos III – Public art, social engagement and situational practices
The past in the present
Educating through design | Eduquer par le design: Naissance d’un club de design
Maktab Gammarth Toursom
Myriam Errais Borges
Elisavet Konstantinidou & Eva Pavlidou
Exploring artistic and cultural identity through an
art curriculum unit
Pensar, espacio, piel. Un ensayo visual desde nuestra experiencia como a/r/tógrafas. | To think,
space, skin.A visual essay from our experience as a/r/tographers.
María Martínez Morales; María Isabel Moreno
Montoro and Nuria López Pérez
“Art Lab x Kids: art as an instrument for discovery
and knowledge”: a visual literacy Project
Onko elämässäsi solmuja? Miten niin? Haluatko tulla keskustelemaan solmuista ja tekemään taidetta niiden avaamiseksi? Teemme taidetta solmuista, mutta puhumme myös niistä. Käytämme erilaisia taidetekniikoita. Täällä saat olla luova! Tavoitteena on tehdä näyttely tuotoksista.
Solmu sarja on henkilöille, joita kiinnostaa keskustella omasta elämästä ja keskustelun ohessa myös tehdä taidetta solmuista. Solmu-sarja on avoin kaikille. Tapaamisissa puhutaan suomea ja englantia. Vapaa pääsy.
Milloin: Torstaisin klo 17.00-19.00
Päivämäärät: 7.11, 21.11, 28.11. 19.12
Missä: Caisa, Kaikukatu 4, 00530 Helsinki
Osallistumista joka kerralle toivotaan. Ilmoittautuminen Amjadille email@example.com
Arlene Tucker on taiteilija ja kasvattaja. Hänen kiinnostuksenaan on lisätä taiteensa kautta leikkisiä elementtejä jokapäiväiseen elämään. Semiotiikan opinnot, eläimet ja luonto inspiroivat häntä luomaan merkityksellisiä hetkiä jaetussa ympäristössämme. Hänen taideteoksensa luovat usein tiloja avoimelle keskustelulle ja yhdessäololle jättäen erilaisille tulkinnoille ja yllätyksille tilaa. Hänen tekstinsä “Translation is Dialogue: Language in Transit” on ollut osana julkaisua “Translating across Sensory and Linguistic Borders: Intersemiotic Journeys between Media (toimittanut: Campbell, Madeleine, Vidal, Ricarda, 2019)”. Tucker on perustanut projektin Translation is Dialogue (2010) ja on vuodesta 2017 asti tehnyt yhteistyötä Prison Outside -projektin kanssa. http://www.arlenetucker.net/
Solmu-sarjan takana on MIITTI, MIOS-hanke ja MIELI Suomen Mielenterveys ry
Is your life like a knot? How so? Would you like to come talk about knots and make art that could help open these up? We will use different art techniques to help express ourselves. It’s ok to be experimental here! At the end of the workshop series a collective exhibition amongst the participants is also possible.
Knot series is for people who are interested in sharing life stories, listening to other perspectives and making art from our time together. Knot series is open to everybody. The workshop will be held in both Finnish and in English. Participation is free of charge.
When: Thursdays from 17.00-19.00
Dates: 7.11, 21.11, 28.11. 19.12
Where: Caisa, Kaikukatu 4, 00530 Helsinki
Participation of each session is recommended. Register by emailing Amjad at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am an artist and educator, and my work focuses on adding play elements to daily life through my art. Inspired by translation studies, animals and nature, I find ways to connect and make meaning in our shared environments. My artistic work is often process-based and it creates spaces and situations for exchange, dialogue, and transformations to occur and surprise all players. I am interested in creating projects that open up ideas and that engage the viewer; that invite the viewer to be a part of the narrative or art creation process. In translation, your participation continues to propel the story. https://www.arlenetucker.net/
Knot series is made in collaboration with MIITTI, MIOS and MIELI Mental Health Finland
Mechanics of Conformity (MOC Collective)
Rosamaría Bolom, Edwina Goldstone, Sepideh Raha, Arlene Tucker
Video screening and discussion in and around the topic of hair
Hosted by Äkkigalleria, Väinönkatu 32, Jyväskylä
October 5, 2019 from 13:30-16:00
Welcome to participate in an intimate conversation with MOC, where we can listen, share and learn about each other’s experiences related to hair. Your thoughts contribute to a deeper understanding of our collective and individual histories. Only through dialogue can discoveries be made.
How do we look at ourselves?
How do they look at us?
How do others look at each other?
MOC investigates the excess, absence, cutting, covering, growing, coloring and grooming of hair as both the materialization of individuality and of conformity. As an artistic medium and mediator of meaning, hair can communicate a sense of self relating to the internal and the external others. From this perspective, it can either uphold or upset conventional distinctions between divisions of gender, race, region and religion. These issues around hair can epitomize a global yet subjective social and personal significance.
MOC Collective consists of Rosamaría Bolom, Edwina Goldstone, Sepideh Raha, and Arlene Tucker. We explore concepts of identity, relationships, perceptions, liberation and otherness through hair. Ask a person about their hair, and they just might tell you the story of their life. MOC has been working around the subject of hair since 2017.
This event is organised in collaboration with Anna Ruth and Äkkigalleria, also is supported by Taiteen Edistämiskeskus. The discussion and screening is open to everybody and to all ages. The main language of the event will be conducted in English. There is the possibility for Finnish translation and, of course, freedom to express oneself in Finnish is encouraged.
The Story of Hair Tree & Intertwined
By Arlene Tucker 2019
The Story of Hair Tree & Intertwined shows the process of how these two projects were developed and created. Intertwined looks at how family members relate to each other despite their shared DNA. Here, the concept of family also extends to individuals welcomed by choice. This piece is a continuation of Arlene Tucker’s Hair Tree (2017), which gathered family members scattered over four continents by collecting cuttings of their hair. Moving back in time, she attempts to comb through memories to understand where and how knots are formed. Tucker hopes this will further open dialogue about family and with family.
Watching Me, Watching You, Watching Me
By Edwina Goldstone 2018
Watching Me, Watching You, Watching Me, follows the metamorphosis of an image through many stages as it follows the twists and turns of the artist’s decision-making and memory process as she recalls and connects past & present conversations about ‘Hair’, with all the ambivalent, contradictory ideas and mixed feelings that are attached to it. Added together as an animated sequence the drawings form a peculiar imaginative narrative that never remains constant but grows and morphs with thought and time.
Me recuerdo a mi misma // I remember my self // Muistan itseni
By Rosamaría Bolom 2019
Year 2017, Mechanics of Conformity Collaboration lead me to a deeper reflection about how norms and values are introjected into our behavior since our childhood. A series of images came to me. I could remember three efficient rituals whose normative beliefs affect behavior. Me recuerdo a mi misma // I remember my self // Muistan itseni, is a “mask and a ritual for a society that judges us and teaches us how to behave ourselves from childhood to old age not to be punished, excluded accepted”.
Entangled – ME & HAIR
By Sepideh Rahaa 2018
Entangled – ME & HAIR is an ongoing project where I address my memories and experiences in relation to hair, where hair plays a meaningful role in my daily life interactions with people in society. It brings up questions such as how do we connect and disconnect from each other in relation to our looking, and how one can overcome the mechanism of conformity in everyday life. I used a series of life memories and experiences conveying the core concept through performing art, poetry and video.
When Vishnu Vardhani invited me to carry out the interviews for Pixelache's 2019 Breaking The Fifth Wall, I was very intrigued by what the concept of the 5th wall is and how we could challenge it through a flat screen. I wanted to try to get to know the participating artists through conversation. Letting thoughts flow and investigate what rises. These conversations lasted one to three months through open discourse on an open google document.
Read the interviews here:
When will patriarchy end? When will there be a day when we don’t need to use a passport to travel?
On smells and the senses
Sawing, dimensioning, shaping
Incomplete manual for our living
Circle in a park
Vishnu and I took some time to reflect on my process of conversing with the artists and through that, we learned a lot about each other and where we are in the moment. Below are snippets of our dialogue:
VV: Arlene, thank you for bringing alive the conversations with the artists. It was a pleasure to read the interviews. Talking about end, For me personally, end is when we take our final breath. Until then the great collective consciousness connects us in numerous ways… Like Knots. Knots :D Amazing.I love Knots myself. I feel so empowered since I started to tie. Breaking norms I have internalised. Having courage to express, and to formulate the boundaries, as well as asking for support and to attend to my needs. It was a huge preparation process.Now I discern conflict without losing my agency. The workings of rope metaphorically and factually, inspire me to work with what need to be changed or developed in order to accommodate norm criticism. You understand ?
AT: Yes! I completely understand. It’s also a way to hold on and have grounding, but at the same time let one arm go, let one arm free and let the head dangle.
Do you think it makes a huge difference whether you initially meet somebody online or face to face?
VV: Does it make a difference ? For me, YES. I have a tendency to walk straight into the narrative that is carefully spun. Some people have exceptional online personas. I still don’t have tools to decipher these personas. In person I remark If the two individuals have the capacity and orientation to hear and see each other. Stay open to understand one another.
I am split on the question of difference.
I am inspired by an artist, who does comic books and who does a lot of political work. I followed him for years on Instagram, he always responded to my messages on insta, when I met him in person, my fantasy burst, I wish I didn’t meet him. As his ‘art’ wasn’t reflecting his ‘art-work’. That said, I am working at this year’s festival with the millennials. I am impressed, with simple online interactions. Yesterday, this person, was looking for our office, when I proposed to go find him, he counter-proposed to ‘just the share location- easy for all’. As I had walked a few times to fetch people that morning, I took note of this person’s exceptional screen interaction. That exceptionality also reflected in the hands on tasks. Also I thank the world wide web to have caught me this incredible being ‘Alaa Satir’. I follow her ‘art-work’. Recently I had the opportunity to talk to Alaa on Skype. This was a turning point for me in my life.
I have taken a lot of space with this response. Do you still follow me ? I can elaborate on the talk with Alaa, before, I want to ask you a question. You mentioned earlier about ‘bubble’ , do you feel the bubble can exists across realms ? Mediums ? Do you think it’s possible to build communities where people meet maybe only annually ?
AT: In my mind, bubbles are boundaries and borders that we create as individuals and as a society. So, yes, they exist in any possible dimension, but it’s dependant on perspective and context. I look at borders also as comfort and uncomfortable zones. Getting to know ourselves and stretching that boundary or breaking it, or just knowing we really cannot cross it. Awareness of our relationship to it.
Us talking about boundary, life and death triggered writings from one of my most inspirational figures, the Estonian Russian leader of semiotics and literature studies, Juri Lotman (1922–1993). Wilma Clark, the translator of Lotman’s book Culture and Explosion comments on his chapter ‘The end! How sonorous is this word!‘ by saying, “the notion of the ‘end’ and the principles of continuity and discontinuity are reflected in the stark boundary between life and death. Death is marked out as both the beginning and the end. Lotman speaks of the ‘special semantic role of death in the life of man’. It is the boundary which frames all meaningful activity and which, simultaneously, marks the contradiction between life in the general sense and the ‘finite life of human existence’. And yet, what is finite, is continued in the memory of the ‘son’ so that even the boundary of ‘death’, as it were, is permeable and filtered” (Lotman 1992, xiv).
One thing I noticed when I was having these conversations with the artists and something I was trying to develop these past few months was feeling their borders, being sensitive to their boundaries and timing through the computer. With all of them except the conversations with Laura, Vidha, and Samir, I did exclusively online through a Google Doc, like the one we are having now. With some people it clicked immediately and we were off talking about very deep and personal topics whilst with others, I could sense that they needed more time understanding my proposed process of opening dialogue, the point of meandering, and the importance of setting a pace in which we can safely and naturally delve into different topics. I could not have done this without everybody’s full participation. Most of the conversations lasted a good two months. Sometimes it stretched longer than that from the first initial contact as “life happens”.
With every artist, we would write to each other every few days or with some every day. It largely depended on their personality and what was happening in their life at that moment, but I tried to be sensitive to their response and how they responded. I really got to know every artist in an intimate way, which was very unexpected. I could see which times of day they were most active and how the changing of the seasons had or didn’t have an affect on them. From this, I also got to get to know myself in a different way too. Very grateful for that!
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.