The Saari Residence received a total of 516 applications from 57 countries for the residency call, which was arranged in August. The applicants included both artists with long careers and young artists still searching for their voice. “The applications carry a tremendous amount of passion, enthusiasm, courage, work, thought and effort,” says one of the application evaluators.
In 2019 the internationally focused Saari Residence in Mynämäki will be hosting creatives such as visual artist Kira O’Reilly, sound artist and musician Ville Aalto and the theatre group Jalostamo2. In their work, these artists will examine, for example, the authenticity of experiences in nature and in creating artificial nature, the ways in which the wellbeing of people and the environment are intertwined and menopause from an ecological point of view.
“I look forward to the coming year, because the passionate attitude shining through the applications is sweeping us Saari Residence employees along with it. The peace at Saari Residence offers artists the opportunity to become absorbed in their own processes and to explore and question the ways they work and the topics they deal with. In these frantic times, one of the most valuable things we can have is the time to concentrate,” says Executive Director of the Saari Residence, Leena Kela.
Kira O’Reilly’s work brings together middle-aged bodies, ticks and disrupted environments
Irish artist Kira O’Reilly examines and redefines the negative attitudes relating to menopause from an ecological perspective. She is interested in the man-made chemicals that often come up in conversations about nature and “the natural” and which mimic the hormones found in plants and animals, also causing disorders in the human body.
In her work, O’Reilly employs various art disciplines. At the Saari Residence, she intends to also examine other topics, such as ticks and death.
“I am interested in reframing menopause, a key stage of life that is too frequently dismissed and rarely appreciated. I would like to expand our understandings of menopause in connection to the environment, particularly when thinking about endocrine, like the molecules so present in our natural world via plants, other organisms and human-made pollutants,” O’Reilly says.
Ville Aalto positively challenges the definitions of true nature
Helsinki-based sound artist, music producer and musician Ville Aalto will be working at the Saari Residence in the autumn of 2019. During his residency, Aalto plans to implement a multi-channel audio installation in which electronically generated sounds create a natural soundscape that is as close to the real thing as possible. In this work of art, he wants to highlight the future threats to the survival of various species and the meaning of so-called artificial nature in a positive way.
“I hope that my work will both invite people to admire the nature surrounding us and create faith in the potential of the technology we use to make the world a better place. I don’t really see the need for negative criticism anymore, but rather a need for encouragement, enthusiasm and admiration for the world around us, which will make us want to do everything in our power to protect it.”
Jalostamo2 tells an urban fairy tale about place and human identity
Helsinki-based free theatre group Jalostamo2 is set to work in the dance studio at the Saari Residence next summer. During their residency, the group will work on their Nature Resort Near Me theatre performance, which will be implemented as an international collaboration and which deals with the importance of place for human identity and the link between environmental and human wellbeing. The theatre group describes their future presentation as an urban fairy tale that takes place in a strip of forest leading to the shore of a secluded pond. In the performance, the location becomes significant when the area is threatened by new construction and the loss of nature. The characters in the play are trying to find something so valuable about the place that it will mean the place can be saved, or to say goodbye to it with dignity. The thematic inspiration for the performance are the writings on ecosophy by deep ecologist Arne Naess, as well as pastoral poetry, the ideal landscapes in visual art, the living forest of folklore, scouts skills and Playmobil toys.
Founded in 2012, Jalostamo2 aims to create an international network of performance arts that will enable European performers to take their work on tour from one country to another. The core group of Jalostamo2 includes Artistic Directors Anna Lipponen, (actor) and Petri Tuhkanen (lighting and set designer). Each year they produce one to two new works, for which they invite a director and team specifically for each production. At the Saari Residence, in addition to Petri Tuhkanen and Anna Lipponen, the team will include Director Riko Saatsi and Sound Designer Kristian Ekholm.