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‘Letters from the Past’ at Platform

“I don’t think it should matter whether you are family or not, if you like someone you like someone”

A grandfather, 2009

When a man becomes an abuser his story changes, but does that negate the rest of what the man is, or other stories from his past? Does the act make him what he is, or is he something despite it?

These are two of the key questions I wrestled with during my artist-in-residency at Platform, in Vaasa, Finland, in February-March 2018. During my stay I continued working on the multimedia project ‘Letters from the Past’, which I had started the previous year. I developed a visual concept for an installation and a structure for a linear video, and produced new photographic work. In addition, I held a workshop for art students in Vaasa, during which they produced ‘projection portraits’, a technique I apply in my project.

In Hollywood there is a clear line between good guys and bad guys, and it is easy to know whose side you are on. Life, however, is less black and white, and as more nuances of grey appear it becomes harder to position oneself. ‘Letters from the Past’ focuses on a story of sexual abuse within the family, and the complex feelings and relationships that emerge when the perpetrator is a family member. How do you write off a grandparent, a husband, a father? It is often easier to sweep the conversation under the carpet than to tackle the elephant in the living room.

In my project we meet the elephant in the living room, but we also meet a gentleman, a funny grandfather, faithful children, vulnerable grandchildren, broken hearts, forgotten feelings, menacing but also hopeful letters and thoughts. The protagonist is portrayed in a variety of roles: he is both someone’s ideal man and another’s offender. Various memories and conversations dating through half a century, captured in letters and on tape, are braided together in an installation and linear video. My aim is to present the viewer with the same dilemma that victims of family violence are confronted with – an unexpected course of events and clashing realities to which the viewer has to relate and somehow work out how to assimilate.

The ongoing #metoo discussion and Finnish equivalents #dammenbrister and #memyös show that sexual harassment is common. This is supported by studies indicating that an estimated 83-102 million women in the EU have experienced sexual harassment; 12% of them say that they experienced sexual violence before the age of 15, from an adult perpetrator.¹ Last year, 1,170  sexual crimes against children were reported in Finland² – yet most instances are never reported. It is estimated that 90% of the sexual abuse of children is never reported to the authorities.³ Fear, guilt and shame frequently stand in the way, and children often are and remain loyal to the one who has abused them.

Through my multimedia project ‘Letters from the Past’, I hope to open some doors for a wider and more nuanced discussion on sexual harassment, by not only pointing at the abuser, but also looking at how we relate to the complexity of the situation. The broader context addresses questions about how our identity is formed through family history and how trauma can be passed down through generations.

Rebecca Simons, www.rebeccasimons.com

 

“Despite all it was still important for me that he could meet my son. I put my feelings aside and I took many nice photos where my son is sitting on his lap. It was a beautiful moment despite all.”

Sister of a victim of sexual harassment by their grandfather, 2015

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¹“Violence against women: an EU-wide survey” conducted by FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights), 2014

²‘Development of certain types of offences in 2013 to 2017 (preliminary data)’ Corrected on 13 April 2018 by Statistics Finland

³ “Detta borde alla veta om sexuella övergrepp mot barn”, Rädda Barnen, 2016

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RE:SET – Artistic research project by Donia Jourabchi and Dewi De Vree

‘Re: set’ is an artistic research project focussing on sound in relation to atmospheric phenomena by Donia Jourabchi (BE) and Dewi de Vree (NL) in the context of the Platform Residency in Vaasa, Finland 2017/2018.

‘Reset’ stands for ‘adjust’, ‘starting anew’, ‘restoring to zero’. In the context of this project it stands for the reduction of stimuli from the senses. ‘Resetting the senses’, which is conducive to meditative state and lets us become aware of the slightest details and changes of the sensory input we receive from the environment. This ‘nothingness’ is the starting point from which we let this project emerge.

During a period of a Month in November 2017 and February 2018 we have been immersing ourselves into the minimal and quiet landscapes of Ostrobothnia, at the West-coast of Finland. Being invited by the artist residency Platform in Vaasa, we received the time and space to start up a new site specific project in the Old Soap Factory.

The first working period in November 2017 our focus was on geological features of the area. Very inspiring fact for us was to learn that the land of Finland is growing a centimeter each year; “When the ice retreated from Fennoscandia more than 10,000 years ago, the Earth’s crust was depressed half a kilometer due to the weight of the ice which was 2 kilometers thick. When the ice melted, the crust began to rise, and the recovery still continues.” We visited various geologically interesting places in the area of Vaasa and collected visual and audio material for our to be made work.

The second period took place in February 2018. When we arrived, the landscape had totally changed and was covered with snow and lakes and bays were covered with a thick layer of ice. The land had expanded and new areas are reachable for us to explore. The sky and the white land became a canvas for beautiful color palettes, continuously changing gradients throughout the day. This time our focus was more on atmospheric phenomena, the interaction between light and the different physical states of water during different times of the day.

During our stay we have been experimenting and recreating the phenomena that we experienced outdoors in a miniature lab-setup in the former Soap Factory. Light reflections on ephemeral substances like mist and melting ice, trying out different wave guides on smoke and vapor and making interference patterns by combining different layers of wave projections.

More information about de Vree’s and Jourabchi’s research can be found on the project webpage.

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Residency program 2018/19

 

Thank you to everyone who took their time to apply for the 2018/19 residency program. Out of 140 applications 5 artists are going to join our program.

We look forward to work and spend time with:

Meredith Degyansky (USA)

Paloma Sanchez-Palencia (Brazil)

Lena Skrabs (Germany)

Johan Lundin (Sweden)

Roberto Santaguida (Canada)

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QWERTY Salvation

QWERTY, the artist group from Denmark, is coming to Vaasa, Finland in December to save souls.

Opening Thursday 14.12.2017  18:00-21:00 at Kirkkopuistikko 20 / Kyrkoesplanaden 20, Vaasa.
Open Friday-Saturday 15.12. – 16.12. 11:00-18:00

Both our guests, and our own soul need salvation.

It is soon Christmas, and in the spirit of love, we invite everyone to come and be a part of our investigation, into the depths of our soul.

People hurt and seek meaning of life, with art QWERTY is looking for an escape.

The Virgin Mary/Art mother, with her children, invite guests into her veil. Here you are offered a pill symbolizing the baby Jesus and art.
Elvis, ‘the King’ is alive, and he will greet you with healing and personal drawings, if you can find him in a mirror.
The woman in yellow, will give you intimate erotic stories, while looking at the passing of life outdoors.
The man dressed in white, will invite you to enter his white space, and meet yourself.

The art piece is relational, and created together with the public, as a live performance.

As ‘therapists’ in New York 2016, and also as ‘undertakers’, discussing death at Art Fair Suomi 2017 and Sluice_ Art Fair 2015, QWERTY members experience that difficult topics are meaningful to investigate when the core is art.

QWERTY is looking forward to check out the problems people from Vaasa, Finland are dealing with, and SALVE with art.

 

QWERTY is an initiative run by 7 visual artist from Denmark who have worked together for 10 years.. The mix of members has occurred mainly, by a common interest in pursuing new knowledge and practices.

QWERTY members in Vaasa: Camilla Gaugler, Anders Qvist Nielsen, John Krogh and Indigo Richards.

Represented with ideas and soul: Jens Andersen, Mikkel Larris and Morten Tilltz.

 

Homepage: http://tifinger.dk/

Instagram: Qwerty_artdk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tifinger.dk/

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Artist in residence: Diana Dulgheru

Although imperceptible at first, the cultural differences appear in a subtle way in one’s mind creating an off-balance feeling. I discovered Finland in a gradual way, finding the differences in all the details, starting with food, the organization of the space and ending with people’s attitude, introverted, focused, firm. I perceived them as being warm.

The whole experience seemed shorter than I thought it would be and proved to be life-changing and inspiring even if I already was interested in the minimalist way of expression.

During the residence I focused on finding a connection between my artistic statement in general and the things that impressed me the most, a common ground.

Being the result of this one-month Platform residence in Vaasa, Finland, the audiovisual project solid grey seeks to find a direct, abstract translation of the specific minimalist and functional Finnish architecture of the blocks of flats into sound and visual forms. The relation between space and form which is as important as the volumetric shape, the basic building volume, the compact forms and city plans were sources of fascination and served as a foundation for this audiovisual reflection.’

minim | Diana Dulgheru is an artist whose main interest is to work with sounds reduced to their purest form. Through her projects she explores the relation between sound and visual form, focusing on the visualization of sound and the aesthetic possibilities of the digital errors.

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Solid Grey / minim (Diana Dulgheru, RO)

The result of a one month Platform residency in Vaasa, Finland, the audiovisual project Solid Grey focuses on finding a direct, abstract translation of the specific Finnish architecture of the blocks of flats into sound and visual forms. The relation between space and form which is as important as the volumetric shape, the basic building volume, the compact forms and plans were sources of fascination and served as a foundation for this audiovisual reflection.

Audiovisual performance in the former teater Casa, Kasarmintori, Artellikuja 4, 65100, Vaasa.
September 16 at 19:00

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Platform Live: Night of the arts – Roll don’t Ride

The Platform Live-events have contained a vast array of experimental performative art during the past years, on later days the events have focused on performance-art and sound. On the Night of the arts Platform will be engaging and rethinking the public space by occupying a piece of Kirjastonkatu. Instead of cars riding down the street we will have people on 8 wheels rolling to the sweet tunes of disco.

DJ Mesa-Vatti is taking his freshly collected Disco vinyl’s out for a spin so interesting vibes are sure to ensue. Quad-skates and protective gear can be borrowed at the site. You can also bring your own rollerblades!

 

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Artist in residence: Sarah Nawotka

Sarah Nawotka is an American artist whose practice focuses primarily on sound and improvisational collaboration with other artists working in sound, video, painting, and movement. Using vocal improvisations, field recordings, and effect processing, she conjures a spontaneous sentimentality that, at the same time, resists and disavows sentimentality’s concretizing and immortalizing tendencies. Salient features of her improvisations include asynchronous melodies echoing the multiplicity of voices within the self and the inconsistent nature of temporality. She uses loop-based soundscaping as an immediate form of capturing an organic moment, layering it to evolve into something indistinguishable and transforming it into a tangible, topographical substance, while immortalizing the original ephemera with the hope of eventual decay.

The work during her residency at Platform during June and July 2017 was primarily inspired by the embodiment of emotional reprocessing of trauma and how it allows the body to transgress spatiality and temporality. The symbolic language developed in this chapter of her practice is characterized by her techniques of affecting the voice and the space and exploring multi-loop based composition. The recordings from this period will be released in 2018 under the moniker, Dråsa. She participated in several performances and collaborations with Vaasa-based multidisciplinary artists.

Nawotkas activities during the residency

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Ether: Water

Ether: Water is the ninth event in an internationally collaborative art series with an emphasis on experimental sound performance.
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Performances from:

–Arvid van der Rijt–

–Dråsa (US)–

“Water is uncapturable, but also contained and commodified. At its stillest, it can be stagnant, reflective, serene. Yet, if you try to immortalize the peace, it is disturbed. The glass shifts to fluid and the tranquil clarity is transforms into murky, obscured depths of terror. As we create, we simultaneously destroy, disrupt, and displace. We sink in and drown. Our waterlogged bodies are carried by the currents and we assimilate into the tumultuous force.”

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