In March a total of 802 artists and working groups applied to the international Saari Residence for artists and researchers in Mynämäki. Of the applicants, 683 were individual artists and 119 were working groups of artists from a total of 77 countries. A residency was granted to 4.4% of the applicants. The number of residencies awarded was influenced in part by the renovation of the Saari Residence’s main building, which will continue until summer 2022.
In the midst of the pandemic, there has been a great deal of uncertainty, especially with regard to artists’ livelihoods. During these challenging circumstances, Kone Foundation will continue to make unfettered and multi-voiced art and research possible by providing grants and residence activities. The Foundation focuses on enabling individuals and working groups to delve into long-term projects as in-depth as possible.
“The residency may be extremely important to artists from the perspective of art and artistic freedom. It can offer artists new insights into their work and thinking, especially during individual residencies in which an artist focuses on a specific process for two months, making experiments and possibly trying alternative paths. To ensure the continued freedom of art, we need people who cherish it, and, as an artists’ residence, we will continue to nurture this freedom at the grassroots level, where seeds germinate,” says Leena Kela, Executive Director of the Saari Residence.
Applicants’ work plans at the residence this year conveyed genuine concern for the future, the climate crisis and loss of biodiversity.
“A common thread running through the projects, I found, was the fact that they were analytical and spoke directly to the viewer or reader while being unapologetic at the same time. The topics of the projects were current, original and offered fresh points of view,” says one of the application evaluators. Read more of the evaluator’s thoughts here.
The residence brings together artists from different backgrounds and fields of art
The artists who have been awarded residencies intend to engage in contemporary art, working on topics such as physicality; blurred boundaries between different genres of art; gender and sexual identity; colonialism; artistic research; listening; and new methods of expression.
The age of the grantees varies from young artists at the beginning of their careers to artists who have carved out long careers in various fields.
Next year the Saari Residence will be hosting, among others, performance artists Helinä Hukkataival and Inari Virmakoski, sound artist Rasmus Östling and an international working group from the film industry led by curator Danai Anagnostou.
Helinä Hukkataival and Inari Virmakoski plan to settle down and listen
Helinä Hukkataival and Inari Virmakoski, who have been awarded a Saari residency, have been working in performance art since the 1990s. They have worked together at international performance festivals around the world for about five years, but their residency will be the first time they collaborate on a project in Finland. At Saari they plan to work with environmental and natural elements through performance while developing their cooperation with a long-range view. Hukkataival and Virmakoski will design an online performance and work out its theme during the residency as well as create interventions, or surprising mini-performances, which may be performed in the milieu of Saari Manor.
“Being quiet, listening and observing the essentials relating to the environment, our own thoughts and artistic activities are at the heart of our project, but we will also discuss things and develop new plans,” they explain.
“We work alone, each focusing on our own personal processes, and also together by meditating and searching and experimenting with dance-like movements. The place and time largely determine the shape our joint performance projects take, and the last few months of the year are a particularly interesting time for us to work,” Hukkataival and Virmakoski say of their working methods.
Rasmus Östling will be working on new audio pieces and developing his identity as an artist
Rasmus Östling from Turku represents the young generation of artists among the grantees. For him, the residency means, above all, a chance to develop as an artist.
“Examining and developing my work and working methods are at the heart of the project I will be working on at Saari. Incorporating and experimenting with new tools, ideas and ways of working will fuel these goals, and if I succeed in reaching them, I will leave the residence a comprehensively better artist. Working at the residence will be a most beneficial platform for my goals, as I feel I’m most productive in an immersive environment. I expect the residency to provide me with a fruitful opportunity to carry out my intimate and productive artistic work. As a sound artist, funnily enough, silence is important to me, and the conditions at the Saari Residence will provide an excellent setting,” says Östling.
During the residency, he plans to work on one longer recording as well as a shorter audio piece. As material for his work, Östling uses field recordings he has collected, as well as synthetic, acoustic and text-based sounds.
“I also make use of certain ready-made compositions in my work, and based on these, I try to create compositions that work well. These two pieces have quite a lot in common in some ways, so it feels natural to work on them both at the same time. I’m interested in the conceptual side of sound recordings, and the fact that it will be site-specific, in this case set in the surroundings of Saari Manor, will also fuel my recording work there,” he explains.
Working group led by Danai Anagnostou will examine how filmmakers can deal with their mistakes
An international and multidisciplinary group led by creative producer and curator Danai Anagnostou will focus on feminist working methods and the goals of cooperation in filmmaking. In addition to Anagnostou, the members of the working group include visual artist Margarita Athanasiou, producer and founding member of the Ubuntu Film Club Alice Mutoni Dusabe, visual artist and filmmaker Elena Näsänen, performance artist and researcher Karolina Kucia and architect, visual artist and researcher Pegy Zali.
The members of the group come from different backgrounds and, during the residency, they will consider what their respective fields have in common and how they can draw on their own experiences and political perspectives to produce educational material to support the film industry, both its artists and organisations. Could different fields of art and the experts working in them influence prevailing practices and provide fresh perspectives for the film industry’s ecosystem?
“We want to highlight the mistakes that filmmakers, especially those who use feminist methods, are afraid to make. What kind of support do people need to be able to admit to and deal with the mistakes they make as they happen, and what do they need afterwards? Why do we make mistakes, and to whom are they mistakes?” the group asks.
An artist residence in the peace and quiet of the countryside
The Saari Residence is an international house for artists and researchers in Mynämäki, Finland, maintained by Kone Foundation. It serves professional artists and groups of artists.
In addition to accommodations and a grant for work, the residence offers versatile workspaces and a peaceful rural environment that provide a productive setting for immersing oneself in work. Several representatives of different fields of art work at the Saari Residence at the same time, and the residents are encouraged to interact and exchange ideas with each other, which at best can lead to new and even surprising forms of collaboration.
Saari Residence activities are guided by ecological sustainability. The Saari Residence is maintained by Kone Foundation. In a meeting held on 11 June 2021, Kone Foundation’s Board of Trustees decided on the grantees to be awarded a 2022 Saari residency.