The newly-arrived artists at the Saari Residence explore nature in their art

The beginning of September saw the arrival of a new group of artists at the Saari Residence. For two months, they are working, for example, on issues relating to nature from various points of view. In September and October, the artists working at the residence include Sasha Huber, Victoria MacKenzie, Henriikka Kontimo, Rob La Frenais, V. S. Luoma-aho, Lotta Toivanen and Tessa Zettel.

During her residency at the Saari Residence, Helsinki based, Swiss-Haitian visual artist and art-based researcher Sasha Huber is reflecting on and writing about the Swiss cultural-activist campaign Demounting Louis Agassiz as part of her practice-based PhD project. Her multidisciplinary work is primarily concerned with the politics of memory and belonging, particularly in relation to the remnants of colonialism in the environment.

At Saari, British writer and creative writing tutor, Dr Victoria MacKenzie is studying and writing a book about plants called Vegetal Souls. The name derives from Aristotle’s division of the soul into the human, animal and vegetable, with the vegetable being the least sophisticated, lacking the ability to move or perceive. Through a series of interconnected poems, short stories and essays, she is responding to some of these ideas about what it might be like to be a plant, to have a ‘vegetal soul’ and to experience the world vegetally.

Tampere-based artist Henriikka Kontimo is spending her time at the residence continuing her work on a text-based, spectator-driven, interactive piece created a few years ago which deals with the similarities and differences between our relationship with nature and a significant human other. In addition, she would like to create a work designed specifically for the Saari Residence. Henriikka is currently studying to become a cabinet-maker and, during her time in Saari, intends to also ponder ways to combine carpentry with her artistic work.

The independent curator of contemporary art and writer Rob La Frenais is working simultaneously on two themes: the Moon and Water. He is working on an essay called Mirroring The Moon that will be the basis for a book that has been commisioned by Intellect Books. He is also working on a young adult fiction novel Wild Way To The Moon. His second project involves exploring the archipelago surrounding the Saari Residence using the Saari vessel the Lovisa. He is hoping to research a new project that will be realised in Finland about artists floating vehicles.

Jyväskylä-based poet V. S. Luoma-aho spends his time at the Saari Residence editing his fifth collection of poems, Safar, which will be published next spring. It deals with artificial intelligence, human history and the time after humans. In addition, V. S. Luoma-aho is writing short stories for his new short story collection.

During her residency, Lotta Toivanen, a Finnish literary translator from Helsinki, is translating the French Édouard Louis‘s novel Histoire de la Violence into Finnish. One of her latest translations is Louis’s novel The End of Eddy (En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule). She will try to achieve a fairly well polished version of her translation of Louis’s novel.

Australian artist and writer Tessa Zettel is working with mushrooms during her residency in Saari. She is working mainly on collecting different ways of being with mushrooms. She is interested in relationships that people have with mushrooms, the embodied cultural practices they develop around them, and mushrooms as the communicators of the forest floor. She hopes to find some people willing to share their stories and take her mushroom picking, She would also to begin translating this material loosely into the format of a small publication.

The Saari Invited Artist, Helsinki-based performance artist Essi Kausalainen will be working in Mietoinen until the end of April. Her newest perfomance My name is Monstera will premiere on this week’s Saturday 12 October at 7 p.m. at SIC gallery, Helsinki. There are two more shows at Madhouse on 23 and 24 October. My Name is Monstera is a performance for wind quintet, two primates, textile and text in a mid sized room. In the piece you will meet with mutating organism, open a dialogue with Carl von Linné’s ghost and bath in sound. You can read more about Essi Kausalainen here.

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