31 May 2008, Saint Petersburg
Yesterday afternoon, Jani and me headed by the lovely Russian Repin train to Saint Petersburg. We sat in the the restaurant car and ordered a bottle of Russky Standart vodka and freshly prepared delicious blinzes with caviar. We had still the idea of going to the miserable East but when the bill arrived we changed the idea, we spent over 200 euros in our schnapps and snacks. No doubt, it was good value for money – watching Finland (the landscape) from Russia (the train) was a moreishly confusing experience.
When we arrived, Galina packed us in a car and we drove to Achtung Baby, the bar where she works and where the young artists and art world wannabes meet. Sami appeared soon and started our endless guided tour through the white nights and the darkest corners of the Imperial city. Sami could the wierdest person I’ve met. He’s a Finnish photographer, journalist, artist, DJ, tea expert, tourist guide who has lived 13 years in Saint Petersburg. He looks like a bum in the corner but he 's always surrounded by the most beautiful girls and with him we skipped all the lines to the most glamorous discotheques.
29 May 2008, Helsinki
It's difficult to sleep here in the North in the summer time, there's too much light and it's too beautiful. I just came back from Mänttä, where I did Without Tits There's No Paradise installation about the dark macho world of SUVs, guns, big tits, burgers and beer.
Tomorrow, I'm going to Russia with Jani. Or I hope that Jani is joining me. I said to Eeris that I don't want to travel alone to St. Petersburg, I hate adventures. And actually I hate traveling, too, but I'm excited of going to the East. And I'm also thrilled about Raul's invitation to participate in a big group show in Korea in August. But I think my family is not going to be too happy about that, August is the sacred holiday month.
25 May 2008, Cervera de los Montes
Tomorrow I'll fly to Helsinki and next Saturday I travel to St. Petersburg - if I get the visa for the Russian Federation. Now the Russians feel that they are the czars of the universe: FC Zenit won the Uefa Cup, they won the ice hockey world championship and yesterday their representative Dima Bilan won the Eurovision song contest with a pompous song Believe: I can do it all, open every door, turn unthinkable to reality, you’ll see - I can do it all and more! To honour Mr. Bilan, I put together a list of Russian superheroes:
Airstrike (Dmitri Bukharin, member of the People's Protectorate)
Anatole (member of Red Trinity a.k.a. Kapitalist Kouriers)
Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff, member of the Avengers)
Concussion (member of the Russian Exiles)
Darkstar (member of the the Soviet Super-Soldiers)
Fireball (Sonya Chuikov, member of the Young Allies)
Mikula (Mikula Golubev, member of the Bogatyri)
Molotov (member of the People's Heroes)
Mother Russia (member of the UNForce)
Negative Woman (Valentina Vostok, member of the Doom Patrol)
Pozhar (member of Red Shadows)
Proletariat (Boris Mikhail Dhomov, member of the Red Army)
Red Star (Leonid Kovar, ally of the Teen Titans)
Red Son Superman (the Russian Superman)
Rusalka (Mashenka Medviedenko, member of Soyuz)
Tanya (member of War Nurse's Girl Commandos)
Tundra (member of the Global Guardians)
Winter (Nikolas Andreyvitch Kamarov, member of Stormwatch)
22 May 2008, Cervera de los Montes
Last week, I sent my passport to Eeris in Helsinki. He’s the curator of our St. Petersburg show and takes care of the practical things, too. He went to the consulate of the Russian Federation to fill out the visa applications but my passport was denied because some millimeters of the laminate had detached from the passport page. I have traveled with that document, among other destinations, four times to the United States of America, once to the People’s Republic of China and once to Albania, and never had any problem.
Eeris, who lived many years in St. Petersburg, said that Russia doesn’t need us. He stated that Russia has been open only a couple of short periods in the history. The current aperture has been the longest one but now the country is closing again. The way to build the wall is to make things so bureaucratic and convoluted that nobody wants to deal with them. Only the gasoducts of the omnipotent Gazprom penetrate the wall. Even the currency paid for the gas doesn't go to Russia but to Swiss bank accounts.
On Monday, I fly to Helsinki and I must apply a pricey express passport and then a pricey express visa to travel on Saturday to the mysterious East. In any event, I don’t believe that me or my artwork are accessing there before we both stand firmly on the Russian soil. To be continued.
20 May 2008, Cervera de los Montes
Next week, I'm going to Mänttä, Finland, and St. Petersburg. I do a new kind of instalthe space with paper scraps: prostitution ads, images of my dream cars, newspaper pictures of the football stars of Real Madrid, Carrefour special offers and my unfinished drawings.
It's exciting to try something formally completely new. I'm not sure at all about this way of presenting my ideas but the show is in a small village and I hope that I'm not going to be lynched by the Finnish art world even if my scraps result to be craps.
The set at 4mula Gallery in St. Pete is more basic stuff: Now I try the walls in light blue, I paint a polar bear eating ice cream with a sign around his neck saying I love Porsche and democracy, one Molotov cocktail in a Cristal champagne bottle, 30 framed drawings - lot of prostitution - and my Used Panties International, the Japan inspired series of dirty (paint) women's underwear neatly packed in plastic containers.
16 May 2008, Cervera de los Montes
The golden ratio - approximately 1.6180339887 - occurs frequently in the natural world. Two numbers a and b keep the golden ratio when (a+b)/a = a/b, in this case a/b equals the golden ratio. This pattern can be seen in nature, from the spirals of flowers to the symmetry of the human body, as expressed in Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, and it was also applied to design McDonald’s famous symbol Golden Arches.
The Western pattern diet, also called meat-sweet diet, is a dietary habit chosen by many people in democratic countries, and increasingly in democratizing countries, characterized by high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat dairy products and Coca-Cola.
13 May 2008, Cervera de los Montes
My next project takes place in St. Petersburg in June and I’m highly excited about it. I was last time there ten years ago as a tourist and my feeling was bizarre – so close to my homeland but a complete otherness. I wasn’t able to decode it. I hope that this time I have good guides and guardian angels.
My relationship with Russia is complex. A big part of my roots is from Karelia and genetically I’m as Russian as any Igor or Grigori (Riiko is a Karelian diminutive of Grigori). Unfortunately, the Russian empire colonialized Finland and I’m supposed to abhor them for that. And if I ask my grandparents, there is nothing as evil as Russia. In the World War II, The Soviet Union attacked Finland (allied with the Third Reich) and we lost Karelia and our properties.
On the other hand, my parents were orthodox communists and in my cold war childhood I learned to love the Russian Soviets. It’s like any religion, you can give me any proves of the horrors of the Gulag but I will always love the Soviet Union. But how should I feel now, when Russia is the most capitalist society in the world after The People’s Republic of China?
I asked Yulia, my Russian friend living in Helsinki, if the champagne Molotov cocktails would make sense in the St. Petersburg exhibition. Her immediate answer was that the Russians don’t give a damn about Finland. So maybe it’s better to forget my Russo-Finnish problematics and just do my basic global tutti frutti set. Anyhow, Yulia said that champagne would relate smoothly to the New Russians - the more or less criminal Russian nouveau riche.
09 May 2008, Cervera de los Montes
Herman wrote me a nice e-mail after seeing the installation pictures from my shows at Galerie e.l Bannwarth and Bourouina Gallery.
Your work in Paris and Berlin looks much more angry than before. For the first time, I see very clearly the the closed circuit of the system in your work. I see the strategy of the capitalism and its opposition together - in the same image, in the same sentence. Before these two shows, your work was funny with some sharp hooks, now it is serious, hard, painful, incorrect, correct, lifelike, hard, soft, tasty,nasty...