The VAASA 20X0 project culminated on September 3rd 2015 with a public walk visiting eight art works specifically produced for Vaasa. The artworks along the way were presented to the public by the artists. The walk started with the first art work in the public library and the second stop was at the market square statue of freedom and the by the neighbouring Tourist info. From there the walk continued to a seaside spot in front of the Vaasa prison and the last stops were in the park next to the Kuntsi museum and at the silos in the Inner harbour. The walk ended with a film screening and discussion at the Platform studio.
The works have been conceived by artists visiting the Platform residency program during 2014 and 2015 under the working title VAASA 20X0, with the aim to create possible scenarios, visions of and for a Vaasa in the future. The chosen artists took part in a workshop together with artists involved in Platform and other local actors. In the workshop the artists’ practices and interests were discussed, as well as local issues and circumstances for projects. At a later stage the artists returned to Vaasa to have an individual residency and work on their projects that finally were presented on the walk on the 3rd of September.
For information on each project see below.
The walk included works by: Ola Ståhl (Sweden), Wouter Osterholt (The Nederland/Germany), Guillaume Aubry (France), Liliana Basarab (Romania) in collaboration with Tuomo Väänänen (Finland), Hermann Hiller (Germany), Nurri Kim (UK/ South Korea, residency 2013) and Patrik Qvist (Sweden).
Ola Ståhl’s project Eftersläckning shown at the public library in Vaasa consists of an artist book of thirty-nine volumes accompanied by short pieces of writing entitled “Footnotes for a Monument.” Taking as its point of departure, the Finnish civil war and, in particular, the so-called White Terror and the detention camps run by white guards across Finland during and after the Civil War, the thirty-nine volumes seek to address issues around historiography and commemoration. Each page in the volumes represent one victim of the white terror; that is, one person executed or murdered by white guards, or one person dead from starvation or disease in the detention camps.
The volumes are bound in such way that they cannot be opened without being destroyed.They are, in a sense, reduced to their material components: paper and glue. They remain a set of books, but they are also, and at the same time, something other than that; a material book, an abstract mass, or, perhaps, a kind of monument.
The accompanying Footnotes for a Monument take the form of journal entries, compiled by Ståhl during his residency period in Vaasa. The notes move between and weave together citations from newspaper articles, media reportage, philosophy and critical literature, fiction and poetry, personal reflections and biographical events, providing a context for the work and placing the atrocities of the time within the context of the historical foundation of the capitalist state as well as its contemporary increasing global development.
Wouter Osterholt’s work Freedom Temple placed on the market square in Vaasa is a proposal for the construction of a never realized memorial project from right after the Finnish civil war. In 1918 Mannerheim announced a large-scale commemoration project in the form of a Temple of Freedom in Vaasa. The purpose of this building was to glorify the heroic actions of the white army, thus amongst other things concealing the atrocities committed against the socialists. Due to financial reasons the temple was never built, instead the statue of freedom was erected on the market square in 1938. Thinking about the 100th anniversary of the civil war, which will take place in 2018, Osterholt decided to reconsider Mannerheim’s original proposal. A drawing made by Finnish artist Albert Gebhard in 1922 reminds us of how the temple was once envisioned. This drawing was used as the basis for designing the new temple. During a consultation session in 2014 people in Vaasa were asked how they would design this memorial site today. Osterholt then selected one of the proposals to work with, which considers both the history of the Whites and the Reds.
Guillaume Aubry’s project Sad as stones (Vaasa) shown at the Tourist info is an addition to the video “World Heritage Site High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago” screened within the permanent exhibition at the Terranova Kvarken Nature Centre in the Ostrobothnian Museum. It consists of a distorted illustration of the land rising phenomenon, using artefacts and objects found during his residency time in Vaasa.
Liliana Basarab’s and Tuomo Väänänen’s work Walls/The Unseen presented outside the Vaasa prison is an audio installation that is based on workshops made together with inmates of the prison in Vaasa. The aim was to move from particular stories heard in prison to more of a general experience and to give space to several voices through the collective narrative, going back and forth from realistic descriptions to more abstract and conceptual ideas of what prisonment means. The project goal is to talk about the prison not only as a physical space but as a mental projection.
Hermann Hiller’s work And the gull glides hard to hunger over the murky sea for Vaasa, projected on the facade of the Kuntsi museum, deals with the energy of the city. A MegaWindmill is imposed on the facade of the Academill building containing a proposal for the silo buildings. Floodlights illuminating public buildings of the city are used as projectors of shadows created by pre-hung hanger gulls.
Nurri Kim’s film Tender transports us to a sunlit morning in Vaasa, to quietly witness the almost ritualistic washing of a newborn infant and an elderly man — respectively the town’s youngest and oldest residents. Closely following the interaction between the carer and the cared-for, “Tender” reminds us how profoundly we depend on the concern and labor of others. In this short film, Nurri observes and contemplates the passage of time, both in the changes it brings to all of our bodies, and in our continuous reliance on the others around us. By reminding us that we wouldn’t have been here without someone’s care, and cannot in the end survive without it, “Tender” quietly asserts the value of empathy and affective labor. It asks us to imagine how every attentive touch remains with us throughout our lives, embedded, carrying us from our past into the future.