Laikku Studio 2.2.–24.2.2019
Tahmeaa Tietoa Zine. An interview with the artist in Finnish by Jonna Karanka. An English translation below.
An interview by artist Jonna Karanka, Jan Anderzén’s art school pal and colleague in experimental music. The dialogue took place in January 2019 and evolved around Sticky Knowledge.
What will we get to see in the Sticky Knowledge exhibition?
I’ll be presenting a series of new textile collages, drawings and three experiments with moving image. In addition to this, there will be some musical treats. I’m allowing a tad more tangling, fraying and interlacing of the common thread than usual. I have also braided some common thread.
How did the name of the exhibition come about? What is sticky knowledge?
Because my works rarely consist of verbal elements, naming them i.e. connecting them to language is an exciting game. According to my rules a piece can later be shown bearing a completely different title.
Some important tools in the naming process are my notebook and an anagram maker. The fact that I can’t remember how Sticky knowledge originally got into my notebook, is a pretty accurate description of the character of my art: the world is infinitely plentiful and me just a small child. Sticky knowledge has been the working title for this exhibition from the start, and I haven’t stumbled upon a more fitting one before the deadline. I think of it as having to do with sampling and procreation, but that’s as far as I’m willing to reveal my associations.
You are a multidisciplinarian: you work in music, painting, textile, print, collage and moving image. Do you ever hesitate between various techniques, or does inspiration usually come with a suitable technique attached?
My working process allows the dialogue between different art forms, sometimes in surprising ways. Musical expression is what hits closest to home on most days, although I approach it more from a visual artist’s angle than a composer’s or musician’s. In a way, music lays the wobbly foundation on which all my other work is built upon. One of the pieces in this show had a alternative motive to loosen up some of the knots I'm having with my music making.
The thought of working on issues within a media through another technique is really intriguing. Could you elaborate on these knots of yours with music making?
My musical practice has never been bound to a specific genre or just one way of operating, but the experimental approach to producing and organising sounds has been there from the start. Although I set new aims and imagine new worlds, I may still fall back on safe old methods and techniques too easily.
One habitual characteristic within my music is an abundance of sounds. That piece that I mentioned features one little video component for every single sound. Working in this manner made adding sounds much more time consuming and so the piece remained more spacious and open than usual, almost effortlessly.
My interest in visualising sounds has partly to do with being self-taught in the field of music. Musical notation is practically an unknown language to me, of which I know only the very basics. It’s mind boggling to think that people can make the music play in their head by only reading the notes!
This reminds me of a multi disciplinary art experience from my childhood, when we were made to listen to The Four Seasons and finger paint the colours and forms evoked by the music. The video in Sticky Knowledge is most likely a version of that same exercise.
What sort of things inspire you to make art?
Making art is how I participate in the ever-changing collective hive mind project of the humankind. My work is almost without fail born as the continuation of the warm vibrations of art created by others.
What is the mission of art?
It’s about opening up space for love. Through art one can try out positions in the chaos of chance and at the mercy of the unfathomable extent of opportunities. I knew another answer for this in the shower this morning… A kite’s duty is to make the wind visible!
What is your take on symmetry?
The symmetry in my work is often lacking and bent, bursting with anomaly. Symmetry in my art has to do with the drive to organise and classify. Symmetry is also about repetition and the enchantment of ornaments. Observing cycles is comforting, as yet again something new rises from the ashes. The spring and all that.
One possible answer to your question is the piece “Ei ole hyviä tai pahoja aaltoja”, with consists of eye brows I’ve harvested from Instagram, these halves of symmetrical pairs.
My relation to symmetry can also be described by this quote I keep returning to from The Nonexistent Knight by Italo Calvino:
“He found him under a pine tree, sitting on the ground, arranging fallen pine cones in a regular design: an isosceles triangle. At that hour of dawn Agilulf always needed to apply himself to some precise exercise: counting objects, arranging them in geometric patterns, resolving problems of arithmetic. It was the hour in which objects lose the consistency of shadow that accompanies them during the night and gradually reacquire colours, but seem to cross meanwhile an uncertain limbo, faintly touched, just breathed on by light; the hour in which one is least certain of the world’s existence.”
Any film, book, music or Youtube etc. recommendations concerning your upcoming exhibition?
The sounds that will be heard at the exhibition are based on the song Reach Out to the Universe by the Mystic Zephyrs 4. Highly recommended!
I recommend letting our day to day be truly shaken by poetry. I also recommend us to listen to wonderful music and not doing anything else at the same time.
Have you developed schedules and routines in how you work on a daily bases?
After finishing my porridge, I tend to emails and other paperwork. After this I head to the studio and…
I started thinking, this interview could be laid out as a A6 mini zine. I went through some pics and stuff I’ve been storing during the making of this exhibition. Those could be scattered there with the text. We’ll see what there is time for. I have a headache, even though I took a ibuprofen some hours ago.
You do drink enough of water, don’t you? It’s often the cause of a head ache.
I should keep an eye on that. H was ranting at me yesterday over not taking good enough care of myself. Perhaps I have spent too much time with the sewing machine and the computer in the last few weeks, not taking any days off. So there is some muscle tension in the neck and shoulder area. Every area, actually.
H has been ranting about important things! I’ve been slowly mending a busy years worth of physical discomforts, such as arrhythmia. (Nothing serious, said doctor, just stress!) I had a fitness test and a work out schedule drawn out. This type of external pressure is good for my exercise motivation. You should take time off once the exhibition is done, open up those tensions with exercise, rest and eat well and healthy to keep you going! We aren’t as young as we used to be, we have to remember to take care of our bodies and minds!
How do you feel about the constant competition over grants and exhibitions that is so intertwined with working in art? Have you ever had to consider other professions?
Often when I’m visiting bigger cities, I wonder how artists cope with that said competitive angle. In Tampere it feels like one ducks some of the negative aspects of that phenomenon. Of course I consider other type of work regularly, but then what else could I really do? This has nothing to do with my exhibition, but I’d still add to the recommendations the book Häviö by Antti Nylén. Among other things, it’s about art as a profession. The perspective is that of a writer, but undoubtedly will leave an impression on many kinds of readers.
Last week I dreamt of this insane studio deal. Some unrecognisable suburb near Tampere had a chanterelle shaped building, with just this one working space inside. The larger room had a fine sand floor, walls of clay and no corners. I thought in my dream that the effect was “African”. It was a light filled space and interesting in every way, I was instantly thinking of the types of work I would be creating there. Even the sand floor didn’t feel like a problem. But the price did: 10 000 € / month!
What plans for art in 2019?
In the spring the plan is to activate the 24 year old Kemialliset Ystävät as a performing group, I have a textile focused exhibition in Brighton and will be recording new music too. Feels liberating not to have too many that concrete plans. I’ll keep an eye on the muse’s smoke signals. Let’s see where they will lead.