(For the review of Canary Coffee please scroll down)
Introductiondecription by the artist :
FIXC-Open is a platform for Finish artists who work with video and installations and is used as a distribution platform. I think it is a promising concept to promote art and I’m grateful to be invited to add my comments to the connoisseurs selection.
Instead of presenting videos from several artists I would like to concentrate on the diverse artistic practice of Mari Keski-Korsu, who works with video and performance, so most of her videos document some kind of a performative act. What I like in her videos is, that they do not only exist as artworks for themselves but always refer to something beyond the depicted.
Reindeer’s urban visit
One of Keski-Korsus long-term projects is called mikroPaliskunta. Paliskunta is – in short – a territorial technique of reindeer herding employed in Finland by the native Sami people as well as by Finns.
The project divides the location of the Paliskunta from its original places and creates a mikroPaliskunta, wherever the artist and her representative, a stuffed reindeer roams. Using the Paliskunta narrative includes ecologically sustainable travelling and leads to a critical understanding of the concepts of nation and national identity.
On FIXC-Open Keski-Korsu presents the video “Reindeer’s urban visit“, where Taina West pulls a stuffed reindeer on wheels through an urban landscape, namely Helsinki. Even without knowing about the whole mikoPaliskunta concept questions like nature vs. urbanity immediately pop up.
What I especially enjoyed in this video is, that in my opinion it doesn’t discuss nature as a pure, far away, to be protected place but once again makes it clear that our meaning of what nature is, refers to a social agreement about a space that is constructed to be understood as nature.
When a stuffed reindeer is confronted with the parks, which are embedded into Helsinki city representing the (constructed) nature, the video may be revealing. When the stuffed reindeer meets other stuffed reindeers at a souvenir shop it becomes funny as well.
The work reminds me of an artist group called irational.org, that organizes the yearly International Tree Climbing Day and in this sense also deals with the intersection of nature and urban life.
Another complex of Keski-Korsus’ works I’d like to talk about is the series of video-performances called “Canary Coffee I“, “Canary Coffee II“ and “Canary Coffee III“. (While you find III on FIXC-Open, the others can be seen at http://www.vimeo.com/mkk). In each performance Keski-Korsu follows the same ritual.
In a place relevant to her, she puts two small folding chairs, gets two cups from her bag and a pot with coffee. She fills the two cups, places one cup on the chair and sits down on the second chair, slowly drinking her coffee and looking around for someone who might join her to enjoy the other cup.
Leaving behind the famous notion of the Finns as the world’s most heavy coffee consumers, one realizes that an act is celebrated here that has to do with friendship and hospitality. This act gets political at the point, where Keski-Korsu puts the ritual into a spatial context.
For instance we learn in “Canary Coffee III” that she sat down on a beach, which was the destination for a boat with 77 refugees, of whom 3 where found dead when the boat was captured by the authorities before the coast line.
Here on the outer border of the European Community, where she – as a Fin – can travel freely, the Frontex Agency regulates the stream of refugees, hunting the small fishermen’s boats full of refugees that arrive from Northern Africa.
Keski-Korsus’ act of a friendly invitation to a cup of coffee remains a symbolical one, but it contradicts the exclusion mechanism of Europes’ supranational borders and so the circle to the mikoPaliskunta project closes.
Mari Keski-Korsu was born in 1976 in Raahe, Finland and holds an MA from the University of Arts and Design Helsinki, Medialab. She lives and works in Helsinki and in Tunnila. Her website is www.artsufartsu.net.
(Francis Hunger, Leipzig, June 2009)
Having a cup of coffee at a beach which was a destination for a small wooden boat carrying 77 African refugees two months ago. Three of the refugees were already dead when the boat was found.
See also from this series:
Canary Coffee I
Canary Coffee II
Canary Coffee series is presented on three 8' screens, loop, PAL.