Day 19, Helsinki, January 28th 2012

Tea 19: Green Opuncia, Wayne’s Coffee, Helsinki.

Today was another bright sunny day, though without cloud for a day or two it has become considerably colder, the thermometer is currently hovering around -16’C……

Eeero and myself headed into town at around 12 to go and see a few exhibitions and to hang out in the city together, as this, unfortunately, hasn’t really happened so far, due to his work and baby commitments. We had a few exhibitions in mind that I had purposely avoided for when we could both go and see the shows as I knew Eeero wanted to go and see them.

The first show was at the Taidehalli Museum, just west of the train station.  The Finnish artist, Elina Merenmies has something of a retrospective on there at the minute.  Certainly a large collection of her works all in one spot anyway.  There is a mix of ink drawings on paper (often handmade) as well as numerous oil and tempera on canvas pieces.  The space is quite beautiful, especially the main and largest space.  High ceilings and windows make the space feel airy and expansive.  Eeero said that he has never been to a show there where the height of the spaces has been utilised, and this seems like somewhat of a shame, maybe one day someone will realise that potential.  Elina’s work is interesting and, often, well produced.  Intricate line drawings and highly detailed paintings are abundant, what I feel let the work down the most though is her titling.  Maybe one or two of the titles were good, sometimes brilliant, but in general I felt her titling to be annoyingly obvious, or opaque, showing that really the artist could see nothing more in her own work than what is staring you in the face.  It was a shame as I felt it really brought the work down a peg for me, it made me enjoy it much less and as I went around I found myself pleading for something at least a little more refreshing and vibrant.  I don’t wish to end on a negative note, the work is certainly good, revealing and intriguing.  I just wish there were no titles stuck next to every piece, and as for the red sticker dots……

After that show we headed to the Amos Anderson Museum where the artist Anssi Kasitonni currently has a show.  This show was really good fun.  The pieces Anssi has created are brilliant.  Funny, witty, and full of life.  The kind of art possibly most artists want to make, but, from my own experience and knowing that of others, is really, really, really hard to do.  A full size, highly detailed golden horse stands resplendent as you enter the first space.  Again, a full size, detailed American Muscle Car takes centre stage in another. Darth Vader stands poised with a flaccid light saber. Whilst the video ‘Planet of Sexes’, is hilarious, lo-fi genius.  We spent quite a long time in this show, there is plenty to see and do, an arcade machine of Anssi’s other animation and video pieces, buttons to push here and there, and if I was complaining about the terrible titles of the Merenmies show, then this had the opposite effect.  Brilliant.

After that we had a quick buzz around the rest of the gallery / museum, various things were on, an architectural design competition, a collection of  African artifacts and a rather good show of Finnish work from the 60’s – 80’s.  We then headed towards our final planned stop.  The show, or piece was at a space called Sinne, the piece by artist Tanja Koponen is called The Inside Is The Outside.  Unfortunately it would seem that this piece wasn’t working perfectly.  The space should have, in theory, been lit up with orange fluorescent lighting, but when we arrived this didn’t seem to be the working.  The idea is / was that the space would be lit up, therefore attracting people into the space, and then when they enter the lights should turn off and the viewer realises that they are in a kind of nothing space.  Litter covers the floor and sides, a slight hint of smoke, through sight a smell, fills the space and the windows are smeared and blurred.  The space worked very well in this instance, but we both came out wishing we could of had a full experience, and both wondering how effective it really would be should it have been working properly….. I guess it was just one of those things.

We then headed back towards the station, stopping off, of course, for some tea.  Today I had a very unusual tea, Green Opuncia, or in layman’s terms, Green tea with Cactus!  It was quite bitter, but definitely tasted of Cactus, slightly acidic and, for want of a better term, ‘spiky’, giving a strange sensation along the sides of the tongue, kind of cool but with a definite tone of….. well… cactus I suppose!

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