Raqs Media Collective's textual sculpture for the Baltic Sea reminds us of the taste of our tears and the strange pull of large water bodies. If global warning goes unchecked, someday, the Baltic Sea may become more saline, and its unique ecosystem will have all but died. But until that happens, there is more salt in our tears. With this work, the Raqs Media Collective hope that it stays that way.
While the collective visited Turku Archipelago in the Autumn 2010 their attention was drawn to the low salinity of the Baltic Sea. The marine biologists confirmed their doubts: the Baltic is not actually a sea at all but brackish water, like a large river estuary. This is where its problems and fragility as an ecosystem largely stem from.
'More Salt In Your Tears' can be encountered floating like a mirror of the sea's thoughts, along a busy sea fare route between Galtby (Korpo island) and Houtskär. It is visible from private boats, ferries, the boat to Kökar (Åland Islands), and the cruise ships to Stockholm.
In Spring 2010 Alfredo Jaar made a research trip to Finland. One early morning in the mist and silence of the archipelago he waited for a boat to take him on the four-hour journey back from Utö, the furthest of the islands where he was staying. Jaar wondered why the near-empty boat was leaving at 5.45am. He asked the captain and was deeply touched by his answer: a boy living on a small island along this route has to get to school on the main island.
This story became the starting point for Jaar's work, which consists of a series of bill boards that spread across the islands on the route to Utö from Pärnäs as well as a book that is available on the boat Eivor. A number of Finnish thinkers have contributed to the project, including Antti Nylén, Akuliina Saarikoski, Esko Valtaoja and Kjell Westö.
Environmental art project
Environmental artist and architect Arja Lehtimäki based in Helsinki studies in her new work the entwinement of ecology, economics and aesthetics in the archipelago. How do our diet and daily choices shape the landscape?
Lehtimäki's artwork addresses locally produced food. Her work was inspired by the growing concern and confusion about the fishing industry and the local fish stocks. The artist asks us, why are traditional fish stocks disappearing and others increasing explosively. Why are we not eating the fish that there is plenty of but making the situation worse by eating farmed fish? And why is organic farming still so rare although other methods are to blame for much of the nutrient overload, which is causing problems both under and above the surface? Whilst the seas are turning green with algae, many of the traditional farm landscapes on the islands are in desperate need of grazing farm animals. Industrialised meat production is not only a threat to our health but to the landscape, biodiversity and cultural heritage of the archipelago.
Lehtimäki works in collaboration with a number of restaurants on the islands. This summer contemporary art may even come to you on a plate.
How will Turku archipelago look like in one hundred years? Is it the most popular tourist destination of Europe? A restricted military zone? Or, perhaps a marine research centre owned by a wealthy scientist?
The artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen (from the archipelago of Helsinki) will produce a series of sci-fi movies in collaboration with the Swedish filmmaker Henrik Andersson. The islanders act out visions of the future archipelago in the films, which are based on the fears and dreams of the locals.
The short films can be seen in the Archipelago Centre Korpoström as well as on the Silja Europa cruise ship that travels daily through the archipelago area between Turku and Stockholm.
Architects and urbanists John Palmesino and Ann-Sofi Rönnskog form Territorial Agency, which has been commissioned by CAA to produce a new spatial mapping of the economic and cultural flows across the Baltic Sea, which pass by yet also shape the communities of Turku Archipelago. The sea forms a highway that carries daily considerable global traffic around the seemingly peripheral islands.
In their own words:
The complex geopolitical structures of cohabitation in the Archipelago are charted and mapped by Territorial Agency through the deployment of remote sensing technologies.
Today the archipelago presents itself as a complex space dominated by a singular image of quietness and remoteness, immaculate natural environments and distance from the metropolitan life. A space outside the major flows of global circulation. Yet, a more detailed look reveals a radical fragmentation of the relation between the spaces of operation of local polities and organisations, and their natural backdrop.
The archipelago is a spatial device for differentiation, separation and control of the flows and trajectories that cross it and pass through its meandering spaces: it separates languages, nationalities, routes, commerces, environments and individualities. The multiplication of these separations turns the archipelago into a space that is both mirrored into the extraterritorial operations of international peacekeeping operations across the globe, and then mirrors back the enclaves, compounds, resorts as well as the sectoral and expert knowledges that appear to be critical hallmarks of the 21st Century. The archipelago is transformed into a system of immunity from the local and global controversies and conflicts that operate across a scattered geography of its many seas and islands.
The new work by Territorial Agency can be found on board Eivor, the boat connecting the furthest island Utö to the inner archipelago. The research will be also presented in more detail on the CAA website and the symposium Archipelago Logic.
The work focuses on extinction, not only in terms of the disappearance of natural species but also as part of social and technological processes. The ecological changes of the Baltic Sea entwine with global shifts in the modes of communication, economy and social organisation. Cuevas invites the audience to make their own connections via an island's independent mobile network.
The work reminds us that the Baltic Sea region has always been connected with faraway lands. Journeying to St. John in the US Virgin Islands, it searches for the donkeys that the Danish brought over in the 18th Century. Now they roam the nature reserve as ghosts of the colonial times.
The collaboration between Kiiski, Isokoski and Palmu has produced a sound work based on the timeless classic Moby Dick (1851) by Herman Melville. One can come across the work on a shore where it creates an immaterial yet intimate space for a momentary pause and contemplation by the sea. The work was selected into the CAA exhibition out of proposals by the students of Turku Art Academy.
The sound work is located by the guest harbour at Sattmark, in Pargas.
Ceramic installation / public intervention
Anna Nyreen, an artist living on the island of Nagu, brings conceptual and socially engaged thought into dialogue with the materiality and tactility of ceramics. For the CAA exhibition she continues an ongoing project of hers, which investigates the embodied nature of the encounters with ceramic objects. She has previously encouraged people to touch and to hold the objects. Now she is particularly interested in the questions of the collective, public sphere and the urgency of care. Nyreen has chosen to create unexpected encounters on bus stops, the mundane sites of momentary pause and waiting, along the Archipelago Road. The theme of departure runs through her public intervention.
The installation by Nyreen can be found by chance in unspecified locations across the islands of Korpo and Nagu. Nyreen also contributes to the work of Elin Wikström at the Archipelago Centre Korpoström.
Public sculpture and exhibition
Wind power raises heated debates in the archipelago due to the area’s sensitive environment and deeply valued natural landscape. Would traditional wooden windmills, dotted across the islands, suit this landscape better than modern wind farms looming large in the horizon?
Artist Sussi Henrikson, who lives in Turku Archipelago, takes part in the discussion about the aesthetics of wind power by producing her own interpretation of a windmill that follows the forms associated with archipelago romanticism. She also offers islanders and visitors alike an opportunity to create their own ideal windmill models in her gallery on the island of Nagu. She aims to spark discussion not only about the pros and cons of wind power but also on the highly charged aesthetical values of the archipelago.
The sculpture can be found by the Archipelago Road close to the Nagu village and the Gallery Lanterna 15.7.-28.8.2011.
One of the greatest challenges for the local community is to find work that supports life all year round in the archipelago. Artist Sandra Nyberg, who lives in the biggest town of the Turku archipelago herself, addresses this question with a focus on the distance between home and work. Nyberg creates a mobile gallery and workspace, which she places in a remote part of the islands.
Every morning for a month she will travel to her gallery and spend the eight-hour working day in the middle of nature only to return in the evenings back to her home in Pargas at the urban edge of the archipelago. This process and whatever results it may yield will be presented to the audience in the mobile gallery during the summer.
Along Rumar Road, on the island of Korpo.
Sculpture, found materials
Kari Cavén lives in Helsinki yet spends his summers on the island of Korpo. Cavén is well known in particular for his use of found and recycled materials in his artworks. For CAA he is creating a new work, which turns a large stone into a natural lighthouse of a kind. A boulder left by the Ice Age on its place along the Archipelago Road will thus reflect its surroundings, the flows of people and the changing seasons.
The work follows the daily commute passing by it along the road on the island of Nagu.
Tea Mäkipää is producing a mobile art work for CAA, an updated version of Noah's Arch that could be described as a miniature natural history museum or a lifeboat for animals. Mäkipää's art work is inspired by the deep concern about erosion, climate change and the migration caused by population growth, all of which have a huge impact on both animals and humans.
The work will sail from harbour to harbour, from the city of Turku to the surrounding archipelago, during the Summer 2011.
Maps and postcards
Dinko Peračić and Miranda Veljačić from Platforma 9.81 have researched the rapid changes marked by global capital and tourism during the past decade on the Croatian coast. Their work offers critical yet humourous insights into the cultural and ecological differences and the potential futures of the archipelagos of Turku and Croatia.
Croatian islands have come into the Archipelago sea as guests. They have transformed existing natural conditions and the ways people orientate and navigate. The nautical map Guests: Archipelago Sea Visited shows a modified landscape after the foreign objects have been introduced. It talks about views, ideas and models that are being imported and transplanted from somewhere else and adopted to the local environment. It makes us think about what do we take from the global world and how do we plant it in our own neighbourhood.
Take a closer look at the notions on Landscape Modifications in this reworked map of the Turku Archipelago. Check what has happened to the places and routes that you are familiar with.
The work will be presented on the island of Seili. It is discussed in closer detail in the symposium Archipelago Logic.
Islands resonate intensely with the idea of detachment, the escape from the everyday, the break away from the networks of constant connectedness and of social expectations. Here one can be free, by oneself. As a rock on the shore, or a small boat sailing by. Or is it so? An archipelago is always more than an island after all.
By the sea shore, on the island of Purha.
The sculpture by Armi Nurminen functions simultaneously as an art work and an artificial reef at the bottom of the sea. Light plays around the shell-like shapes while they form shelters for small fish and other marine life. Gradually the sculture will find its place in this ecosystem and become part of the underwater landscape. Metsähallitus will follow and document these changes. The work was selected out of proposals produced in a workshop for the students of Turku Art Academy by CAA.
The sculpture is at the bottom of the sea by the island of Dalskär. It is a permanent feature in a new underwater nature trail planned by Metsähallitus in the Archipelago Sea National Park. The sculpture can be viewed by swimming, snorkeling or diving.
The images of the archipelago by the self-taught nature photographer and organic farmer, based in the island of Keistiö, have become hugely popular over the recent years. Gröning will produce a new installation of his photographs for the Gallery Lanterna in Nagu, creating a chapel for the idyllic landscape. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events that focus on the ecological urgencies of the area and discuss what can be done to preserve this landscape also for the future generations.
Gallery Lanterna, Nagu 15.6.-28.8.2011
Future Archipelago Sea?
Mon 18.7.2011 at 14.00 - 15.00
The photographer Janne Gröning in conversation with the marine biologist Ilppo Vuorinen (Director of the Archipelago Sea Research Institute of Turku University) and Taru Elfving (CAA).
Sat 6.8.2011 at 14.00 - 15.00
Janne Gröning talks about his work.
Discussions in Finnish and Swedish.
The animation filmmaker Antonia Ringbom from the island of Korpo produces for CAA a pilot sequence of her forthcoming feature length animation Arkipellina, which addresses life in the archipelago and the complex ecology of this environment – a theme that runs through her practice. She is also collaborating with the artists Kalleinen, Kochta-Kalleinen and Henriksson on their Archipelago Science Fiction films for the exhibition.
Ringbom’s new work will be screened alongside her earlier films, such as Isola, in the Archipelago Centre Korpoström. Her new animations that are part of the Archipelago Science Fiction films will be screened also at Korpoström and on Silja Europa cruise ship.
Environmental art work made of recycled glass
The artist Pia Rousku produces for the exhibition an extensive environmental artwork on a farmed field by her home in Korpo during the summer. Discarded old windows get a new life in the installation where they form a glistening web that captures the precarious nature of the balance between humans and the land.
The crop on the field will grow among and through the artwork, which reflects the changes in the surrounding nature, light and colours throughout the summer months. "The fragility of glass echoes the vulnerability of earth", the artist describes her inspiration. Glass as a simultaneously natural yet manmade material requires respect and care, like the environment.
The work by Rousku can be found in the village of Retais on the island of Korpo, by Hotel Nestor.
Renée Green is known for her films and installations that address issues such as migration and its affects on subjects in the cross-cultural encounters. In Turku archipelago Green continues her research into the myriad desires projected over the oceans and onto islands. In the new work she brings together these isles with other distant ones through memories, fictive narrative and documentary footage. The film shot during the summer of 2010 and winter 2011 in the archipelago weaves connections from Utö and Seili across the open sea that has always oriented the islanders out towards the wider world.
An earlier film by Green, Endless Dreams and Water Between, will be shown in Utö during the whole of the summer, while her new work will be presented at the Archipelago Centre Korpoström in August-September.
Environmental art project
Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas continue in Turku Archipelago their interest in the encounters between traditional and new technologies. Their new work focuses on the sheep that during the summers graze on the outer islands, literally opting out of the modern way of life as they often inhabit the small pockets of land that fall outside mobile and other wireless networks. More sheep are needed in the archipelago to take care of the landscape. What kind of potential do these animals carry as they grow on the natural meadows, beyond the reach of the networks? Do they provide some answers to those searching for a way out of the endless flows of data in the urban everyday?
Follow the project on the Uto-Pia blog: http://www.vilma.cc/uto-pia
Environmental art project & installation
The work of Elin Wikström reaches both under and over the surface of the Sea, examining the range of meanings attached to nature, both on the individual and collective realms. On the one hand, Wikström's work focuses on sea grass, an endangered species that plays an important role in the balance of the marine ecosystem. On the other hand, Wikström's work connects homes around the Archipelago Sea region through a plant collection project, which invites people to send indoor plant cuttings to CAA.
The exhibition in the Archipelago Centre Korpoström will present the project in its complexity, weaving together the domestic and collective spheres as well as the local and global dimensions of our investment in nature. For each new houseplant a patch of sea grass will be transplanted locally in a new site in collaboration with Christoffer Boström and other marine biologists of Åbo Akademi University. The artist and the researchers will document the progress of the new plants during the summer 2011 as well as for the next three years. A range of public events will also be organised at Korpoström in connection to the project.
Audiovisual installation and sound work
Renja Leino, an artist based on the island of Korpo as well as in Turku, makes tangible in her sound and moving image work the constant presence and significance of sea wind in the archipelago environment. Leino’s new work consists of a collection of stories from the islanders about their experiences of the wind. The stories flow smoothly between and across two languages, Swedish and Finnish, just like the daily life in the archipelago.
Natural phenomena, the changes in the weather and the climate, have a heightened affect on the everyday of the islanders compared to the urban communities. One of the stories Leino has recorded was by an elderly couple living in the outer archipelago: For decades they had collected driftwood washed to the shores of their near-barren island, and never had to buy firewood until last summer, when for the first time not enough of wood was to be found. Have the winds changed, they wonder.
The audiovisual installation is presented in Utö lighthouse. The sound work can also be listened to on the radio frequency 95.9Mhz as one enters the archipelago on the first ferry, connecting Pargas with Nagu, and on the surrounding area.