Saari Residence


The 2023 residencies for Saari Residence have been awarded

Photo: Jussi Virkkumaa

Kone Foundation has granted residencies to 27 individual artists and ten working groups of artists for 2023 at the Saari Residence for artists and researchers.

In the March open call, 580 applications from 72 countries were submitted for the Saari Residence for artists and researchers. A total of 507 applications were submitted for individual residencies, of which 56 were partners in a working group. There were 73 applications for group residencies. A residency was granted to 6.2 per cent of the applicants.

According to the experts who assessed the applications, the overall level of applications was very high and diverse. The outbreak of war in Ukraine this spring was reflected in the content of the applications, with many of them expressing concern about the future. Issues of personal narratives, intergenerational trauma, immigration, violence and memory also emerged in the applicants’ work plans. Many applicants raised issues and concerns about nature, sustainable development and ecology.

“Next year we will finally be able to resume our residence activities at full capacity after years of renovations at the Saari Residence come to a close, and we will once again welcome a truly fascinating group of artists from all over the world. Although we received fewer applications than in previous years, they were all the richer in terms of the diversity of ideas, topics, ways of working and perspectives,” says Leena Kela, Residency Director at the Saari Residence.

The majority of the applications for individual residencies represented the visual arts, while group residency applications were mainly from working groups specialising in performing arts. As in previous years, this year’s round of applications had a western focus, with the highest number of applications coming from Finland, followed by Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands. The majority of the applicants for individual residencies were aged 36–50, and the second largest age group was 27–35. The majority of the applicants for individual residencies were women (61%), while there were clearly fewer male (34%) and nonbinary (5%) applicants.

“It would have been quite easy to hide behind the quality of the art and select only artists with impressive careers, brilliant works and dazzling CVs. It would have felt safe to stick to applications that were perfectly written and that met today’s requirements. But if we don’t give opportunities to the unknown, the undefined, the uncertain, the questionable, the not-ready, the hesitant, will we end up impoverishing art itself? If we never take risks, if we never give space to the unknown, we will probably never discover anyone or anything new,” says one of the anonymous evaluators of the applications. Read more about the evaluator’s thoughts here.

Diverse themes of contemporary art feature in the residencies

In 2023, the artists working at the Saari Residence will create art that deals with issues such as physicality, sexual desire, gender and sexual identities, the environment, artistic research, the combination of different artistic disciplines and new forms of expression.

Next year, the people working at the Saari Residence will include, for example, artist Moe Mustafa, visual artist Miia Kettunen,and Oraakkeli, a working group that combines video art and music.

Photo: Jussi Virkkumaa

Moe Mustafa explores hierarchies of desire in his work

For Helsinki-based artist Moe Mustafa (b. 1985, Kuwait), the residency means the chance to deepen his artistic practice and test new hypotheses in experimental theatre.

Mustafa, who considers himself Palestinian, Jordanian and Finnish all at once, is a multidisciplinary artist: in his work, he uses video art, theatre, experimental film and sound art, among other forms. His themes are often political, related to race, identity and sexuality. Mustafa feels he has not yet consolidated his position as an artist and wants to avoid getting too comfortable in the way he expresses himself artistically.

At the Saari Residence, Mustafa will work on his performative project The Heavenly Body, in which he explores hierarchies of desire and desirability.

“Growing up gay in a working-class family in Amman, Jordan, I was always looking for a place where people would see me and appreciate me. To feel accepted, you have to be seen, desired and validated. Once I moved to Finland, it became fairly evident that when it comes to meeting other men romantically, there is a hierarchy of sexual desirability. White men are much more sexually desired than men from East or South Asia and Africa, except if race is a fetish of sorts to someone. Sex is an interesting topic because to think about sex is to think about power: about the value of being desired,” he says, explaining his subject matter.

“Can we change how and what we desire? My research will question the process by which our desires are formed and what it means to be undesirable,” Mustafa says.

He uses his own life as raw material for his work and writes spoken-word texts to be discussed and played in readings with small groups of peers at the residence. He also plans to practise belly dancing at Saari, making use of Egyptian belly dance video archives and music. Through belly dance, he wants explore his body’s state of desirability.

Photo: Marko Junttila

Miia Kettunen creates alternative encounters between humans and nature

Rovaniemi-based visual artist Miia Kettunen plans to spend her time at the Saari Residence working on materials for Keskusteluja veden kanssa (Conversations with Water), which combines communal art and research. The work will be created with involvement from the community of a sparsely populated lake area in Kalkiaisjärvi in Kemijärvi and in interaction with the lake environment.

“For my work, I will compile material from conversations with members of the local community about the lake and from recordings of these conversations. In my water and soil installation, I will document the changes caused to the lake area by natural conditions and describe the condition of the eutrophic lake. During my residency, I will edit the material into a visual whole, guided by a dialogue between the voices of the community, the change captured by the installation and the visual aspects of the lake. This work will result in an experimental short film next year, the purpose of which is to start a dialogue about the environmental and to serve as an activist effort to improve the condition of the eutrophic lake through art,” Kettunen says.

Kettunen often works on environmental projects, in which she explores the connection between nature and humankind. Her artistic practice is predominantly site-specific and community-based, and her multidisciplinary works highlight alternative ways of encountering each other and sharing a journey.

The Conversations with Water project is personal and very important to Kettunen, who grew up in the lake landscape. She also feels that she is a member of the area’s community, which shares concerns about the state of the lake; it is currently eutrophic as a result of trenching.

Photo: Jussi Virkkumaa

The Oraakkeli working group wants to modernise the concerto performance

Oraakkeli is a collaboration between video artist Irene Suosalo and composer Lauri Supponen, created for percussionist Kalle Hakosalo. The three-person Oraakkeli team will work in a group residency at Saari in the summer of 2023. 

The group aims to modernise the concerto performance. The work features two soloists: percussionist Kalle Hakosalo and video artist Irene Suosalo. The orchestra that traditionally accompanies a concerto has been replaced by a vocal ensemble with 16 members. Hakosalo and Suosalo are also the oracles of the work, alternately interpreting and channeling visions.

“The methods and media are different for each person acting as an oracle. The visions or manifestations – stories – are subjective narratives. The interpretations are shaped by similarities or differences, depending on the distance and the angle from which the work is viewed,” Supponen, Hakasalo and Suosalo explain.

“During our first joint residency in Copenhagen in January 2022, we realised that by sharing time and space together, we are better able to approach each other’s work. Even then, the combination of different media felt authentic, intuitive and spontaneous, rather than carefully calculated and predetermined. We look forward to continuing our shared dynamic at the Saari Residence,” the team says. The resulting work of art made at Saari, which combines video and music, will premiere in Copenhagen from 21–22 September 2023.

Exchanging ideas and insights in the peace and quiet of the countryside

The Saari Residence for artists and researchers in Mynämäki, maintained by Kone Foundation, offers individual professional artists and groups of artists not only a work grant and accommodation but also versatile working spaces and a peaceful rural environment, thereby providing a productive setting for concentrating on their work. Several representatives from 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.

In a meeting held on the 3 June 2022, Kone Foundation’s Board of Trustees decided on the grantees to be awarded a 2023 Saari residency.

List of grantees awarded an individual residency

List of grantees awarded a group residency

Further information:

Leena Kela, Residency Director
+358 40 732 3628,