The Saari Fellows for March and April discuss language, identity and the dystopia boom

In March, the Saari Residence welcomed new guests for a stay of two months. The current guests working at the Saari Residence are poet and performance artist Merima Dizdarević (SWE/BIH), artist Marianne Holm Hansen (DEN/GBR), artist Hou Chien Cheng (TWN/GER), researcher Maria Laakso and circus artist Kalle Lehto.

In March, a new group of guests arrived to work at the Saari Residence. Poet and performance artist Merima Dizdarević (SWE/BIH), artist Marianne Holm Hansen (DEN/GBR), artist Hou Chien Cheng (TWN/GER), researcher Maria Laakso and circus artist Kalle Lehto began their two-month residency. Saari Invited artist, translator Kristiina Drews will also continue her stay at the Saari Residence until the end of April. The residence also hosts the artist duo Nabb+Teeri, who currently work on their environmental artwork Lahopuutarha. The work will be on display in the garden of Kone Foundation’s Lauttasaari Manor.

Poet and performance artist Merima Dizdarević works with multilingualism and performative poetry. She explores questions of loyalty and disloyalty in language, particularly in the relationship with a first or native language. Born in the former Yugoslavia, Dizdarević currently lives in Sweden. She writes in three languages: English, Swedish and BCMS (Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian), also known as naški or “our language”. At the Saari Residence, she focuses on three parallel pieces, written in each of the three languages, and their performativity.

Artist Marianne Holm Hansen combines several disciplines of art in her work. In her pieces, she examines how experience and knowledge are formed, communicated, realised and understood, above all in language. She is currently exploring how we give form to that which is outside language, whether invisible, consciously hidden, intangible or as of yet unknown. During her residency, Holm Hansen delves into the concept of the void. She arrives at the Saari Residence without a detailed plan or programme. Through this choice, her aim is to discover the things that are left over from her earlier art and research and what kind of new can emerge from them.

Originally from Taiwan, Hou Chien Cheng now lives and works in Berlin. At the Residence, he works on his audiovisual novel trilogy, titled Orchestrating the Borrowed. The three novels of the trilogy are Brown (2014), Green (2016) and the current work-in-progress White. White discusses the psychology, identity and need for recognition behind assertion and validation.

Literary scholar Maria Laakso, PhD, is part of a five-member research group in the University of Tampere project Darkening visions: Dystopian fiction in contemporary Finnish literature, which has received funding from the Kone Foundation. When examining the explosive increase in popularity of dystopian fiction in literature, film, television and other forms of art, it can be claimed that dystopia is one of the most significant genres of our time. At the residence, Maria delves into the dystopian boom in young adult fiction, with a focus on analysing the conceptual connection between youth, future, hope and hopelessness.

At the Saari Residence, circus artist Kalle Lehto works on a solo performance aimed at children and featuring hobby horses. The contemporary circus performance Chevalier tells of a ringmaster performing alone with his circus of horses. The performance features various traditional circus acts, such as acrobatics, juggling, equilibristics and clown gags, spiced with the use of hobby horses as well as Lehto’s idiosyncratic style. During his residency, he designs and builds hobby horses and new tools and tests their functionality.

Read more about our guests