Taken Apart – objects and stories, 2005

Galleria Sculptor, Helsinki, 2005

Boy from the suburbs – that’s who I am. Kontula, a suburb in Eastern Helsinki, is the cherished landscape of my childhood That’s the soil I grew up in, the milieu that made me what I am. Sometimes it’s been suggested that a suburban past is nothing to boast about, not worth mentioning in the artist register and not much to build your artistic identity on. I belong nowhere, I come from nowhere. And still, the suburb is my landscape and plays an important role in how I grew up as a human being and as an artist.

Through the “Taken apart” theme, I depict the life I’ve lived, my memories and the fate of generations past. Through my own not so distant past in the suburb, I travel back to the lost land of my grandparents: to Vyborg – a city in Carelia we lost in the war – where they had to leave everything except grandma Irja’s needlepoint work. Vyborg, Viipuri – the city is my Eldorado, a goldmine to my imagination.

I know that the story of my family is interlaced with the tragic experiences they have gone through, and yet I can’t fully fathom everything it meant, and still means, to them. I’m blind to these issues – perhaps the experiences are so painful and encysted so deep inside us that it’s not even possible to express them in any explicit manner.

A child, my daughter, looks at a picture and only makes sense of what appears to the eye: some random objects and pieces of furniture. The place my mother lived in when she was in St. Petersburg. Everything left as it was when she went for the very last time: chewing gum on the table, clothes waiting to be ironed, glass jar in the kitchen waiting for to be filled…

Video still, 2004. A young woman’s voyage to New York in 1958 as an exchange student. The voyage on board an ocean cruiser, the insecure eyes of a young woman, the New York skyline, the Twin Towers not yet dominating it…