MUU MAA/OTHER COUNTRY EXHIBITION´S OPENING SPEACH
Monday 6/10/13 time 7:00 AM - Anna María Lind Geirsdottír
Ladies and gentlemen
I am pleased to be here today at the Muu maa preview. I am exhibiting here with 20 other artists in and exhibition of great variety. This exhibition is for me and the other two residents, Fay and Brett, almost at the end of a very pleasant stay at Haihatus.
I want to thank Raimo and Merja for all the support they have given during it and I especially want to thank Merja for lending me her skis and Raimo for all the help with the cross stitch.
I myself arrived here at the beginning of April to a lovely winter's weather. The ground was covered with snow and I made my first acquaintance with the surroundings on skis. On my first skiing trip I happened upon the house museum just across the field from Haihatus. What a wonderful surprise that was. Some old grey buildings, very mystical and seemed totally abandoned by people. Then came spring and there were people at the museum that I had come to think of as mine. And summer burst into the scene! In less than two months I have experienced 3 seasons.
I chose to apply for the Haihatus residency because it is in the middle of Finland,, at the core or heart of Finnish culture. I had two personal reasons to come here, one was that I wanted to get away from my home country Iceland for a while and make art and the other was that I wanted to improve my Finnish language skills.
Joutsa is a village, not like Helsinki a city which is big and becoming multicultural, but rather Finnish in its daily life and as a foreigner you get a glimpse of the Finnish ways of ordinary life. How the grannies get around on the push sledges in winter and push bikes in summer, what kind of food you can by in the supermarket or the bakery, how people dress, and how people address you, or don't address you. If you go to the cafes and restaurants you mostly get typical Finnish food like pizza or makaronilaattikko.
My expectation of Haihatus was a room to sleep in and a studio space. What I got apart from that was the big back garden of Haihatus full of inspiring stuff and all the forest and space around the village, the board walk and the various roads and paths you can walk on to enjoy nature and scenery. The walks proved to be very fulfilling and inspiring.
There are great information posts at the marsh boardwalk about the peat, plants and the utility of these. But the information is only in Finnish, and it would of course be wonderful to have it in e.g. English for all the residents that will arrive to Haihatus and enjoy the walk.
For myself the scenery was part of the inspiration of new projects for the future. The possibilities that Haihatus gave me led me to make different kind of art from what I have done before.
Going for a stay in a residency in another country takes one out of the everyday box and brings out new dimensions. At least that is my experience. I came with the intention to spin thread out of goat hair and perhaps make an installation. I ended up with cross stitch and to tear off boards of the Fantasia house for even bigger cross stitch that is now in the meadow of Haihatus.
Apart from being a great place for the residents Haihatus has a lot to give to the community of Joutsa. I saw the children that had art classes in Haihatus make head masks for a parade of head-legs that was on in Joutsa in May. They were great pieces of work and the parade a success.
The people that come and stay at Haihatus are people of great knowledge and diversity in the different fields of art. I think that the county of Joutsa should make use of that because there can be fantastic interaction between the Joutsans and the guests that both parties will benefit from. International art and the Finnish culture. The Joutsans should not shy away from the "strange foreigners" but instead embrace them and get the most out of them.
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