The Open House Day 2018 at the Saari Residence was a great event for enjoying art, exploring the residence’s yard and architectural history and making the most of the spring and sunshine. Because it marked the residence’s 10th year, the Open House Day was slightly larger than usual and the event attracted some four hundred visitors.
Over the past year, both the main building and the resident guests’ apartments were renovated. During the Open House Day, visitors learned about the buildings of the Saari Residence when Riitta Koskinen, PhD, presented their architectural history and the life of the Aminoff family in the early 19th century. Architect Antti Nyman talked about the history of the mansion buildings and gave a walking tour, highlighting details about their renovation. Visitors also had the opportunity to study the Saari Residence’s yard area from a different point of view when author and art historian Antti Kauppinen guided them to a meditative viewing tour, during which the participants’ eyes bored into every detail of the landscape.
The theme of the Saari Residence’s jubilee year is birds. The Open Day presented the premiere of Juha Valkeapää and Juhani Liimatainen’s sound art concert Birds. This beautiful work creates a soundscape of birdsong, including both everyday and mythical birds – we heard the sparrow, the great tit, the black-headed gull, the swan, the eagle owl, the raven, the phoenix and the Tux penguin chirp, hoot, croak, trill and tweet.
Community art was represented at the Open House Day by the residence’s two community artists. Nina Rantala, who acted as the community artist between 2008–2012, and performance artist and researcher Tuija Kokkonen discussed Rantala’s project Olemme eläimiä (We Are Animals), which focuses on exploring our living environment by identifying with animals. The current community artist of the Saari Residence, Pia Bartsch, had put together an exhibition of the projects carried out in cooperation with the locals over the years. There were also people present who had participated in the community art projects, and Pia talked with them about their experiences.
The Open House Day programme didn’t end there. Once an hour, the Saari Residence Invited Artist, translator Kristiina Drews, read her Finnish translation of the novel A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin. Saari Alumnus Martta Tuomaala’s video installation FinnCycling Soumi-Perkele! challenged viewers to participate in her fitness programme, which is a comment on work and budget-cut politics in Finland, by pedalling a spin bike. Visitors also had a chance to build bird boxes under the guidance of the Nature Conservation Association of Mynämäki-Mietoinen. Children and the young at heart also got to participate in Annika Tavasti and Anu Taivainen’s ecological workshop.
One of the high points, if not the high point, of the Saari Residence’s special day was the performance of circus artist Rauli Dahlberg, who worked at the residence in the autumn of 2017. In his modern circus performance consisting of exciting routines with balls and the trampoline, the human re-dreams himself and herself into existence. O’DD was a magnificent end to a very successful day: The Open House Day celebrating Saari Residence’s 10 years of activities was a cheerful and unforgettable event that welcomed both the summer and the residence’s next decade!