September 29, 2010
Wild West Drive
Preparations of short film trilogy took me again to many attractive parts of the world. Since March I have visited Tunisia, Italy, China, Ukraine and now four states of United State of America.
I´m one of those who has dreamed a long time to rent a car and drive through the mountains of Utah, Arizona canyons and deserts of Nevada. Now it was time to realize this dream – as a part of my new film work. I was accompanied with cinematographer Joona, who red the map. I started the drive from Las Vegas. It was a decade ago I drove automatic – therefore the most difficult thing was simply to start the car… merde! After I understood to start by pressing the brake I pressed the gas the following 12 hours. That was not very wise – just after 20 hours flight and jet lag. But it was so exiting to drive...at least in the daytime. During the night we observed 20 deers but luckily they kept off the road. During the next day we counted dead deers on the side of the road.
Photo: Joona Pettersson
We had several destinations to visit: Navajo city called Page in Arizona and especially Antelope Canyon there. Then towards great views of Utah: Bryce Canyon and Pink Sand Dunes near Hurricane. On top we wanted to drift around in the most postmodern place on earth: Las Vegas. There we saw also excellent KA by Cirque de Soleil. I noticed they seem to rule the show biz of Las Vegas by running six massive spectacles simultaneously. Those include KA, Mystere, O, Zumanity, and surprise, surprise: Viva Elvis, The Beatles: Love and soon Michael Jackson. Hmm…
Perry Lodge sign in Kanab “The Hollywood of Utah”
The cowboy poets were over 80 but in great trim!
The good old Wild West seems to be pretty tame these days. Both Indians and cowboys are kind and round. I have never seen so overweight folks than in Nevada. But the nature is wild and surprising. Driving through the land is exiting since the scenery chance rapidly and one never knows what ´s behind the next curve. Also vegetation and temperature has rapid changes.
Navajo Marita in Page (photo: Joona Pettersson)
Our days are rather tough and programmed. After waking up early we work outside all day carrying heavy cameras and tripods in rough terrain. After a drive to the next place and a quick dinner we have to download and check the filmed and photographed materials. Equipment must be cleaned from dust and sand and next day ´s program must be arranged. It ´s no wonder I sleep like a bear but don ´t dream. The days are the dreams.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona, photos: Marita
(Photoshopping is not needed…it´s all made by natural light!)
Posted by marita at 05:29 AM
March 23, 2010
CMR & Tarot Tour - five museums in one year.
CMR started in February 2009 from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Kiasma in Helsinki. The last exhibition in Finland was at Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art in Vaasa in 2010. I suppose this is the most intensive museum tour of my life.
I have got imposing amount of feedback from the audience (well over 60 000 visitors). Thank you so much!
Special thanks to all the professionals we have worked with. I really enjoy to work with technicians!
Henry starts the work by painting walls with burgundy red at Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Hemmo Hytönen
I got the idea for a tour especially in Finland when I was in St. Petersburg with Tero Saarinen Company in 2006 for St. Petersburg 300th anniversary party. Our Minister of Cultural Affairs arrived to give a speech before our performance. The minister was a tall, charming young blonde (former Miss Finland - and constantly in the teeth of press). She arrived to the stage of Alexander Theatre followed by Russian interpreter who happened to be a very old and very tiny nun. What an unforgettable duetto.
After the performance the minister arrived to the back stage. She seemed to be very touched by the performance. She spoke Finnish with Tero but when I arrived she hesitated a moment and switched into English. I answered in Finnish, actually Ostrobothnian dialect - with a big smile. I had a good reason for that since previous day she has signed a five-years state artist grant to me and Tero. She was very sorry because she did not know if I speak Finnish or...well, I don´t look like a Finnish person, I know. Then I decided to have a proper tour in my dear home country (and get back my Finnish identity). That night we had a great party with he minister and later on she kindly opened the Tarot exhibition in Amos Anderson Art Museum in Helsinki...
But let´s go back from Russian memoirs to Kuntsi opening in 2010!
After the opening even the staff has time to read the holy books.
Photo: Harry Wester
In March 2010 the tour is over. During one year I exhibited in five Finnish museums and now everybody seem to speak Finnish to me. The last stop was not least but the most sophisticated and charming: city of Vaasa and Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art. I have never exhibited or performed this close to Perho (Butterfly) the place I was born 50 years ago. Suddenly in the opening I saw lots of people who seem to have similar genes with me! That was touching and peculiar.
Tuomari Nurmio, Anne-Maj Salin and Marita in opening night at Kuntsi.
Photo: Hemmo Hytönen
The spirit of Kuntsi Museum is unusual in Finland. The 3-years old museum is impeccably stylish, everything is high quality from the art collection to the restaurant. There is also certain playfulness and joy of work and being together in the air. Behind the welcoming spirit we found the director herself: Anne-Maj Salin. She is truly the queen of the house. The opening night was packed and Tuomari Nurmio played for the house full of different kind of folks from mayor of the city to young arty students.
Tuomari gives Marita “One more lesson” (This masterpiece of Finnish rock lyric was written on the wall in the CMR exhibition)
The Kunsti exhibition combined Choosing My Religion downstairs and Tarot upstairs. The former customs house shared the human scale of my works. Installation was perfect. After the opening we decided to start collaboration in order to distribute the exhibition. First step will be in Norway and other Nordic countries in 2011.
A couple reading their personal card text in Tarot exhibition. “Are you really a Lover!!” Yaa, watch out dear: you seem to be the Devil herself!”
Posted by marita at 10:13 PM
January 24, 2010
BAD & GOD in Stockholm
There were so many excellent exhibitions going on in Stockholm I just had to see them all. Aah. Rare Russian Ballet costumes in Dansmuseet, new Shirin Neshat video in Kulturhuset, Caspar David Friedrich in Nationalmuseet and contemporary Japanesekimono variations in Östasiatiska ... Off we go!
After a hectic week we started the weekend in Finnish way, from airport we went to sauna. Friday habit!
In Swedish sauna is BAD which was not very tempting as a sign but once we were inside Centralbadet next to Hötorget, we felt GOD (good in Swedish). The food was excellent, interior (1920´s) was charming and the last surprise, mysterious big pool with dim lighting was like a strange dream. David Lynch could film there…
The next day we met dancer-choreographer Virpi Pahkinen at the opening at Art Academy. The people and building itself were more interesting than the art. Outside we enjoyed the sun
and cold (-17) and chatted about our forthcoming work plans. In the evening we had a nice supper in celebrity packed Sturehovet.
Marita and Virpi, photo by Pia Pho, (other photos by Marita).
Every time I meet Virpi, she says something, which stays in my mind for days. In Sturehovet she dropped a sentence: “one has to have confidence in subconscious”, with glint in her eyes, followed with a grin. Those who are able to read Finnish, check her fresh book Käärmeensyöjä, The Snake Eater. Virpi is truly talented storyteller, contemporary for our common favorite, adventurer-author Isabelle Eberhardt. Virpi´s site: www.pahkinen.com
Next day we got happily stuck in Dansmuseet because the exhibition was really well made and there were lots of original dance pieces on video - next to the original costumes. Fabulous Nijinsky choreography for Stravinsky´s The Rite of Spring…I saw the costumes first time. Male dancers seemed to be around my size in 1920´s, which is 160 cm! From the small but full packed bookshop I found some rare ballet videos I have been looking for. The stylish café offers one of the best views to Stockholm.What a treat for all senses!
Posted by marita at 10:10 PM
June 27, 2009
VENICE BIENNALE 2009
I seem to have become a frequent visitor of Venice. Elemental part of the charm of this overly touristic group of islands is a room with a view in Arsenale. I ”inherited” this view from an Italian friend long ago and keep on coming back. From the room number 2 I can see, hear and smell the Lagoon. The parade of the guests of the Biennale opening, who endlessly walk up and down the waterfront, is kind of a spectacle in itself. The Art World passes by and I forget the time.
Last time I visited Venice 2007 I saw an exceptional installation in Palazzo Fortuny, former home of a versatile artist and designer Marino Fortuny. The exhibition was titled ARTEMPO – Where Time Becomes Art. The old rustic palace offered an extraordinary back round to a superb collection of art and objects from ancient to contemporary time. The collector behind the project is Axel Vervoordt from Belgium.
The motto of the exhibition was from Albert Einstein:
”The most beautiful experience we can have is the Mysterious.
It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and science. ”
In 2009 I went back to the mysterious Palazzo and spent several meditative hours in the IN-FINITY exhibition. This year more floors were opened but the magic of time was still there.
In Giardini I found the national pavilions of Netherlands and Poland excellent and somehow related to Fortuny´s human time perspective. Fiona Tan´s stunning video installation Disoriented is based on stories of Marco Polo. The voice of the story teller reaches us from year 1295 but the rough and dreamy videos are from the silk roads of today. How little human life has changed during 700 years!
After days of walking and seeing more art than one can digest I decided to take a boat and spend one slow day with Italian friend in the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Just to calibrate the senses. In a huge Benedictine abbey Peter Greenaway brings Paolo Veronese´s painting ”The Wedding of Cana” back to life. With a little help of digital technology the painting turned theater.
How strange was to step out from the chapel and see San Marco on front. Doge´s palace is under renovation and now half covered with Sisley´s enormous advertisement. Three modern beauties approach the skies of Venice through golden frames. The merchants of Venice are working hard.
Posted by marita at 01:06 PM
March 16, 2009
Dancers in the dark
Some photos from Ubud area, the cultural heart of Bali.
Very young but electrifying Baris dancer in Peliatan village, Bali.
Legong dancers in Ubud
Serius little dancer in Betty Boop t-shirt on front of a temple.
Photographer enjoying her work in tropical heat.
Posted by marita at 03:07 PM
Fire football in Ubud, Bali
All Kecak performances are different but I have never seen anything like Cak Rina. Director and dancer Ketut Rina performs only in full moon nights and we succeeded to be in the right time and right place. We waited outside Arma temple for the Maestro to arrive. Better to have his permission for filming. I chatted with a Dutch lady, who told me "Rina is as famous in Bali as Madonna for us, a real super star".
Our super star arrived modestly with a motorbike, half naked in a short sarong with his son in the back. He had long black hair, robust, passionate face and kind eyes. I introduced myself and tried not to pay attention to his masculine and muscular body. He looked at me from tip to toe and asked: "are you a dancer" twice during the conversation. I was a bit flattered, have to confess. I got the permission and we made an appointment after the performance to talk more.
Somebody climbed up to the tower of the temple and lit fires. At a sudden there were 50 men and boys on front of the temple and the familiar cak cak started in chorus. An elderly priest in white clothes gave blessings to the men. After some time the ritual turned pretty wild when burning coconuts were thrown towards the crowd. Rina started to play football with the burning coconuts and the audience jumped up to see what´s going on and how this will end.
Soon the fire was everywhere and half naked and barefoot men were too many to escape it. All the men were singing, shouting and whispering. Rina himself was dancing around like the monkey army general Hanuman himself. He kept the control and nobody was hurt. Performance ended up to a healing ceremony where he was carried away. At the end the priest closed the ritual by spraying water on men.
After the audience was gone Rina arrived to look for me. His hair was a mess and running sweat, coal and dirt made him look like a devil himself. But his eyes were calm and kind. I recognized a familiar after performance emptyness in his eyes, which is a very fine moment. He surely needed a beer and a shower. The Dutch lady was still behind me. I could hear her sigh, oh Rina himself, he comes to talk to you. You can talk with Rina...ooh.
Next day we came back to have a closer look to the Agung Rai Art Museum (ARMA). I was photographing gilded gamelan instruments in the garden when a smiling man in sarong approached me. He turned out to be Agung Rai himself, the founder and owner of the Arma. He took us to the gardens and temples of this extraordinary museum which is a good example how a contemporary museum should function with living artists and local people.
Agung Rai playing hide and seek with Marita in Arma
Posted by marita at 02:46 PM
After Choosing My Religion premiere in Kiasma we happily booked ourselves into a flight to Singapore and continued right on to Bali. Idea of one way ticket has always been the most attractive to me. Am I still such a foolish travel romantic after all these years, 53 countries and countless kilometers? Yes is the answer, I tell myself in a plane full of sleeping people. I like nights in planes and hospitals. I feel I´m in safe hands.
What brings me back to Bali here and then? I never counted how many times I have been on this tiny tropical island but it must be more than ten. I´m curious to see how the balinese keep their rich and original combination of culture and religion alive from generation to another. TV seem to attract them less than other nations and the reason seem to be in the social structure. Sharing and togetherness are the main keys to the culture.
Road to Uluwatu in twilight
After holidays on the beach we hired a car, had a lunch in Sanur and started to drive slowly towards Candi Dasa. First kilometers were sheer horror because we were not accustomed to left side traffic and motorbikes who appear from all sides and directions. Not to mention the dogs who wander in the traffic just like cows in India. The last kilometers were another horror – I was struck by infamous Bali belly. The soto ayam (chicken soup) I had for lunch was obviously a wrong choice.
With my last strength I picked up a hotel from Routard, my favorite French travel guide. We ended up to Aquarium, a magnificent piece of architecture on front of the sea. Routard was again really up to date since the hotel has been open only 18 months. I spend the first night in this zen luxury mansion admiring hand made tiles of the toilet floor...
Posted by marita at 08:22 AM
December 30, 2008
Waiting for Obama
Year 2008 was one of the most productive times of my entire life. Excellent year for an artist. No holiday dramas, no identity puzzles, just work. My time was split between my lonely but lovely art work and collaboration with 15-some professional team. How lucky I am to have these people around me. The result of our work, Choosing My Religion, will premiere in February 2009.
In October I went back to New York in order to complete the texts for the CMR book. I know exactly when a multimedia piece, a painting or a photograph is completed but writing...I seem to need a strict dead line. I want to correct and rewrite my texts endlessly. This time consuming process seem to be easier far from my daily routines – if I have any routines.
I settled down to an old flat next to cozy Union Square area, took a walk around the quarter and opened my laptop. After eight hours I had to stretch and get something to eat. Only then I noticed the atmosphere around me. It could be called obamania. Wherever I went and with whoever I talked, every subject turned into Mr. Obama.
I guess the last time there was such an aura around an American politician was at the time of Kennedy clan. I can still remember a hot and dusty summer day in June 1968. I cried in the back of our van when I heard radio news about the murder of Robert Kennedy. That was my first political murder. I could not remember JFK`s murder since I was only 5 in 1963.
On November 4, 2008 I cried of joy and some kind of relief when Obama won the election. Leaving New York I took last glimpse to the Big Apple through JFK airport glass walls. I saw a blood red graffiti ”nobama” in a bus stop. I gulped and send immediately a message to angels or anyone who could keep murderers away from Barack Obama and all other great professionals who try to make this world a bit more open, fair and tolerant.
That´s my greatest wish for the New Year 2009 as well.
Posted by marita at 05:54 PM