Postcards

MY SHADOWS

Artist in residence: Elina Lajunen (Finland)

– Read Elina’s previous diary notes; Right time, right place

In Iceland my art project and my own inside travel went together. Difficulties in the beginning turned to be sources of my creativity. I looked at the coast in Vogar. It was black and full of alga and different things from the sea. It looked like the cemetery of the sea. It looked like me, my shadows. But I thought that I wanted to know what was there, in the shadows.

I started to collect things and dry alga in different ways. I made hats from alga! Suddenly ugly and scary things from cemetery became beautiful objects. Darkness turned to be light.  Someone has said that dark and light are actually the same. I believe that. In the darkness is your light.

I also got an idea of Art of the hostessing. I wanted to create space where people can be and spend time, get inspiration, meet people, see art and make art themself. And take a cup of coffee and have some cakes. I created Elina´s olohuone.  “Olohuone” means “living room” in English. It was little festival which took place in Vogar in the 13th – 15th of April this year. I created exhibition to the barn with sofas and tables and things that I found during my travel.

There were three sisters from Chekhov play, hidden people made of photos and shellfish and book about my travel. I also created workshop called Fishfactory. In this factory we made fishes from men ties. I had guests, wonderful artist from Reykjavik and different parts of world working with me. On Sunday we had milonga, Argentinian tango dances, in the home for the elderly. The whole weekend was a great success and I was so happy of all those lovely people and beautiful moments.

Photographs belong to Elina Lajunen

My friend Canadian Poet Angela Rawlings who had great voice workshop in my Livingroom festival spoke about closing things. It’s important to make endings. In the end of the travel I remembered Angelas words. I have to close this travel. What has it been for me? I will say: This travel has been one of the most important things I have had in my life. It was a gift. I feel I found myself, my little inner hidden person, my fairy, my soul. And I found love. Love as a source and energy. I will say like Lovisa; I am rich.

Takk fyrir,

Elina

About the artist:

Elina Lajunen is a Finnish artist. She is a performer, director, visual artist and musician. She has studied music and Puppet Theatre in Finland and Physical theatre in Paris in The International Theatre School of Jacques Lecoq. 

From 2nd of March until 18th of April 2012 Elina stayed in Vogar, Iceland. She has been writing diary notes which she has been kind enough to share with us. This post is the second letter of two. Read Elina´s previous post here.

RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PLACE

Artist in residence: Elina Lajunen (Finland)

I have wanted to go to Iceland since I was very small. Last summer I met Marta Jóhannesdóttir in my garden in Finland. Marta lives in Vogar in Iceland with her family and has there Artist residency called Menningarverkefnid Hladan. Our meeting was short but magical. It was those moments when you notice that you are in the right place at the right time. Marta liked my work and invited me to Iceland.

I came to Iceland in the beginning of March. It was rainy and grey weather. First moments were difficult. I asked myself why I came so far alone. Changements of places and countries are never easy for me. But, I got an apartment in the home for the elderly and I had the ocean on my backyard! That felt so good and exciting.

When I came I had an idea to work something with Puppets and something with silence. I had title ”Movement of silence” in my mind. For me silence means many things. First it seems to be full of different voices and very noisy. Then some moments you really feel silence just as a huge empty space. But well, Iceland is huge experience, you can’t miss nature and weather. Sometimes I felt that my moods were together with the Iceland weather. I had a feeling of earth shakes in me, I couldn’t do what I thought. Old things and old ways were not working.

It’s interesting that when you are far away alone in foreign land you think some moments that you are far away of everything. Nothing touch you. But that’s not true. Abroad you really face yourself. For me living in the home for the elderly was huge and important. I get to know the grandmother of Vogar, Lovisa. She brought pancakes in front of my door and presented photos of her family. She has twelve children and over 60 grandchildren and she is 90 years old. She smiled and said: I am rich. I was touched. I haven’t lived so near of people to who I create my work. I loved them all, so beautiful and wonderful people. It really made me think what and how I create my art. What I can and what I want to give for them.

Takk fyrir,

Elina

Photographs belong to Elina Lajunen


Elina Lajunen is a Finnish artist. She is a performer, director, visual artist and musician. She has studied music and Puppet Theatre in Finland and Physical theatre in Paris in The International Theatre School of Jacques Lecoq. 

From 2nd of March until 18th of April 2012 Elina stayed in Vogar, Iceland. She has been writing diary notes which she has been kind enough to share with us. This post is the first letter of two.

I LIKE IT

Artist in residence: Una B. Sigurðardóttir (Iceland)

– Read Una’s previous diary notes Please note this & It boils my blood

Now I will talk about what is enjoyable about being in Japan.

The people here. I have met many people during my stay here and I mostly live and work with  local people. Even though I am sometimes with out a tongue among large groups — and the fact that languages barriers truly exist — I feel very warm with the Japanese people I have connected to. Acting, drawing and whatever you can think of to make yourself understandable has been tried out on both sides. And as I start to know the people better and they to know me, it becomes easier and joking around is no longer a mission.

My experience with the people and the social culture is most friendly and I find the respect among and between people very comfortable. But this is also a double edge sword, this culture has a tradition for people not disagreeing or debating. People here have addressed this problem to me and are searching for a way to get the society to talk and debate about its future. It is very necessary right now because of the nuclear issue that they are facing.

There are not really bars in Japanese culture, but really many drinking restaurants. That means there is a big culture for eating and drinking all night long, talking, laughing and singing. Frankly, I think I have not sung as much with people in years! Maybe this connection through music has become so strong exactly because of the lack of language, but it doesn’t change the fact that the freedom to sing and be exposed by that is ok and not frightening.

Eating in Japan is also fun. It is very social action and as one can imagine the cuisine is brilliant. Of all the various traditional dishes that I have tried at dinner parties or restaurants there are only two things that I will absolutely not eat again. But the rest, preferably.

It is hard to describe a place, and why you start to love it. It is an atmosphere. The millions of details that you notice when you’re going around and about that compose this picture. The attitude, the smile, the colours, the smell, the train, the metro and the face masks. How people just seem to feel ok about falling asleep everywhere and under the most strange circumstances. The fact that you take off your shoes all the time and that you don’t need to worry about locking your bicycle.

The bathhouse and the bathing culture, the loud and colourful advertising signs everywhere manifesting the craziness of this country’s capitalism, shouting people on every corner wanting to sell you something, the stylish girls and guys and Kawii! Never have I met as many adults presenting themselves with such cutefied shyness as here. This attitude is the fruit of the Kawii culture that has been completely integrated into “Old Japan”.

Photographs belong to Una B. Sigurðardóttir

I am telling you that public signs, roadblock and … you name it — has been citified. But the sky here is beautiful and all is full of automates, for whatever you can’t think of and this culture definitely does not understand coffee, or to put it mild, has reinvented it … and everything is a bit different from what you are used to.

I like it.

宜しく

Una

About the artist:

Una B. Sigurðardóttir completed her BA degree from the Iceland Academy of the Arts in the spring of 2008.  She lived and worked in Reykjavík, as an artist and a poet, as well as teaching figure drawing at a secondary grammar school until the fall of 2011. She currently lives in the Netherlands and is pursuing her MA degree of Fine Arts at AKV St. Joost Academy.

She was a member of Gallery Crymo, an artist-run, non-profit gallery. In addition she ran a studio at Hvefisgata 61 in collaboration with other artists and writers. She has been involved in the organization of many artistic events, participated in numerous exhibitions in Iceland and abroad, and given performances and readings of her own works.

Her body of work is marked by multiplicity and the desire to experiment with materials, medium and method. Therefore she has chosen not to limit herself to a specific medium, although she has increasingly given emphasis to  drawing/painting/collage and sculpture, as well as continuing the fusion of and search for new mediums. Una has explored the relationship between text and other mediums such as text and image. For example, three books with her texts and drawings, “The Adventures of the Sick Girl”, “The Sick Girl Kills” and “Soap Stories” were published in 2007.

Since 2010 she has individually, and in collaboration with artist Rakel McMahon, experimented with new mediums and forms of presentation, such as creating large advertising stickers displayed in windows and manufacturing false product packagings. By this they are testing the border between the art and consumerism.

In Una’s works there are underlying narratives, and although she critically examines serious subject matter, her work is liberally spiked with humor. Una seeks to process her personal vision of society and environment in the context of the ideological assumptions and global realities that modern man is faced with. Therefore many images of consumerism and popular culture, as well as symbols of dominant ideologies, have become motifs in her work.

Between 9th of February – 11th of April 2012, Una has been writing diary notes which she has been kind enough to share with us. This was the last post. 

Read Una’s previous posts, #1 here and #2 here

IT BOILS MY BLOOD

Artist in residence: Una B. Sigurðardóttir (Iceland)

– Read Una’s previous diary notes Please note this

I am Icelandic. I have always thought of my country as a clean place. I started to appreciate how much I loved this factor when I started traveling around the world. Water has always been important for me and the fact that in so many places you can’t really drink the tap water — and furthermore, don’t even think of drinking from a stream. This has become normality. But is it really?

Being here only enlarges this feeling of mine.

“Garbage Gold” (2011) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

My thoughts concerning the pureness of Icelandic nature have changed during the last years. I don’t think it is so clean anymore and I worry about its future.

It boils my blood to think about the policy that has been and is being run in Iceland concerning environmental issues. Unoriginal and environmentally hostile ideas in order to create economical wealth seems to be the main theme.

One wonders if those who are taking the decisions for the future of the land think that it is ok to pollute it a bit more, because it is so clean to begin with.

“Gender Politics #1” (2012) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

“Gender Politics #2” (2012) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

“Gender Politics #3” (2012) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

If you can recall the response of the Icelandic government during the Kyoto Protocol back in 1997 it might cast a light on why I think this. But there are countless cases to mention to support this opinion of mine.  Oil Cleaning station on the Westfjords? Some people thought it was a desirable possibility, taking to counter all the other possibilities at hand to create jobs and economical boost. Why not try to be a leading country in creating alternative solutions in stead of following into the footsteps of already known destructive style.

宜しく

Una

Una Björk Sigurðardóttir (b. 1983) was recently an artist in residence in Tocido, Japan. In Una’s works there are underlying narratives, and although she critically examines serious subject matter, her work is liberally spiked with humor. Una seeks to process her personal vision of society and environment in the context of the ideological assumptions and global realities that modern man is faced with. Therefore many images of consumerism and popular culture, as well as symbols of dominant ideologies, have become motifs in her work.

Between 9th of February – 11th of April 2012, Una has been writing diary notes which she has been kind enough to share with us. This post is the second of three letters…

Read Una’s previous diary notes “Please note this” here

PLEASE NOTE THIS

Artist in residence: Una B. Sigurðardóttir (Iceland)

I came to Japan 9th of February, winter was realising its last grip on the land. Still it was beautiful to me, shapes in plants and landscape that I have not seen before. As my stay here unfolds and the warm blowing winds of spring are heating up the land, blossoms are appearing on the trees and the grass and the leafs are gaining its green. I desire to see this country in high summer, it must be intensively green.

I’m not entirely driven by a romantic haze to talk about the nature here. The thing is, that it has become frightening. The nature in large area of land is polluted by nuclear radiation. The water, the plants, the ground, the air.

“Being here, Japan” (2012) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

You remember the Fukushima accident caused by the tsunami and the earthquake on the 11th of March last year? It makes you think about things from a completely new perspective. You wonder if what you touch, eat, breath or drink is polluted by radiation or not. And the government is not a helpful hand either when it comes to food control or deciding what is a livable area or not. Their solution to the problem was to raise the maximum level of radiation standards up.

People here disagree on how to perceive this new reality. Some take it very seriously and are afraid, want to move away or have already moved more south, while other prefer to keep on going with their lives, as normally as they can. But everybody seem to have it in mind, all the time.

The strange thing about living in radiation is that you do not feel or see it.  You just know it.

“Being here, Japan” (2012) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

When I first arrived this thought was almost suffocating for me. But in less than 2 weeks, my fear had transformed from being a real feeling into a knowledge that I amazingly adopt to as a part of my reality. Normality.

It’s strange. I can imagine that living with this concept of reality for a year will quickly make you numb to the severity of it. It’s easy to forget and keep everything the same as before, even though nothing is. The real battle that seems to be going on inside of the people,  is the fact that most of them love their live as it is and do not really want to change it. Changes are difficult and nothing will be the same again. So as long as the threat is invisible it is easy to ignore it.

Perhaps it is possible to call the overall state of mind concerning radiation a normalised abnormality.

This issue is a big part of staying here. This huge problem.

“Being here, Japan” (2012) by Una B. Sigurðardóttir

Photographs belong to the artist

It saddens me that the Japanese people are faced with this long-term environmental disaster. I wish no one to live on a land who has been polluted so greatly that it is endangering their health and future. But the thing is, that many many places are being or are already ruined because of industrial and corporation power.  Please note this.

宜しく

Una

Una Björk Sigurðardóttir (b. 1983) was recently an artist in residence in Tocido, Japan. In Una’s works there are underlying narratives, and although she critically examines serious subject matter, her work is liberally spiked with humor. Una seeks to process her personal vision of society and environment in the context of the ideological assumptions and global realities that modern man is faced with. Therefore many images of consumerism and popular culture, as well as symbols of dominant ideologies, have become motifs in her work.

Between 9th of February – 11th of April 2012, Una has been writing diary notes which she has been kind enough to share with us. This post is the first of three letters, so stay tuned!

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