The first residency of the decade has started

From January to February, Saari Residence will host researcher Alex Ilari Aissaoui (Finland), visual artist Pedro Hurpia (Brazil), choreographer and dance artist Heli Keskikallio (Finland), artist Achim Lengerer (Germany), choreographer and dance artist Linda Martikainen (Finland), visual artist and researcher, doctor of visual arts Pekka Niskanen (Finland), writer and curator Robyn Maree Pickens (New Zealand), composer Benjamin Schweitzer (Germany) and the Saari Invited Artist, performance artist Essi Kausalainen. In their work, they will examine, for example, the history of world politics, political speech and language by means of art, the relationship between beliefs and science, and issues related to working solo in dance.

Researcher Alex Ilari Aissaoui from the University of Helsinki is spending his time at Saari preparing his doctoral thesis which relates to world politics and focuses on the origins of diplomacy. Diplomatic intercommunications have been practised in the Middle East as early as the 2nd millennium BC; in other words, earlier than is currently thought. In his doctoral thesis, Aissaoui presents fascinating points of resemblance between the world today and ancient diplomacy, for example through the balance of power, supranational diplomacy, or the way the superpowers view smaller states and each other.

Brazilian visual artist Pedro Hurpia engages in artistic research to explore the relationship between faith and science through the tradition of dowsing. Many people see the search for water with a divining rod as an old popular belief without scientific basis. At the residence, Hurpia examines the beliefs, rituals and practices associated with dowsing. He wants to challenge the way we see things in a playful way. Could a method based on a belief be used to predict where lost things or hidden materials can be found?

Berlin-based artist Achim Lengerer is working on issues of political language and speech, which he throws into relief in his live performances, cinematic soundtracks or installations and printed material. He is spending his residency at Saari by continuing his collaborative project Scriptings#50:  Learning “by Heart” – A Multilingual Library for Nelly Sachs together with Finnish artist Niina Lehtonen Braun. In this project, they examine the poem In Deep Flight by Jewish-German-Swedish writer Nelly Sachs.

Choreographers and dancers Linda Martikainen and Heli Keskikallio are also engaging in collaboration at Saari Residence and working on their S-projekti. S-projekti is Martikainen and Keskikallio’s long-term artistic collaborative scheme in which they examine, side by side, their own ways of working solo. At Saari, they are working on their two solo creations called Meeting ______ and Phhhhh both independently and jointly, while considering questions related to working solo, such as: What is a solo performance made of? What are you in relationship with when working alone?

Visual artist and researcher, doctor of visual arts Pekka Niskanen spends his time at the Saari Residence writing the script for his next film, which is about the Sahrawi living in the Hamad desert in Algeria, their oral narrative traditions and the weakened ecological state of the Baltic. What the Sahrawi and the Baltic Sea share is phosphate. It is the raw material of the fertilisers that are causing the eutrophication of the Baltic, but also the reason why the Sahrawi are refugees. Niskanen’s work highlights the background and current context of the Sahrawis’ existence as refugees, which relates to the phosphate mines in Western Sahara seized by Morocco.

New Zealand curator and writer Robyn Maree Pickens sinks her teeth into her research-based poetry project that examines Hannah Arendt’s theory amor mundi. Pickens’ starting point is ecological and anthropocenic. She wants to investigate whether she could produce the eco-poetry of love following Arendt’s idea.

German composer Benjamin Schweitzer is working on a new composition during his residency in January and February. He is composing a chamber concerto called Ilmakannel, pirunkeuhko (Air Zither, the Devil’s Lung) (working name) for the accordion and a chamber ensemble. In it, he examines the two-faced nature of the accordion: the instrument can be delicate in a poetic way, but also fiendishly strong and rough. At the same time, the composition highlights the significance of the accordion in both folk music and contemporary music by combining the musical expressions of these genres.

Saari Invited Artist, performance artist Essi Kausalainen is preparing her work Thousand Times Yes which will premiere at the Kiasma Theatre on 6 May and is an experimental chamber opera for soprano, chamber choir, electronics and objects. Thousand Times Yes is a philosophical and poetic study on the possibilities and limitations of the body, space and language, and the state of communicating and sharing. The work is a collaborative project between composer and musician Marja Ahti (Turku), librettist Jenny Kalliokulju (Torrlösa) and director Essi Kausalainen (Helsinki) and it smoothly crosses over and moves past traditional genre boundaries.

Read more about the Saari Fellows