IN COMMON | 'Что-то общee'
A project between Andrey Shabanov / Vitrina – Local Library Window and Miina Hujala
& Arttu Merimaa / Alkovi in St. Petersburg 29.8. – 24.9.2016
Artists: Crystal Bennes, Tanja Koponen, Mikko Kuorinki

Address of the library: Prospect Morisa Toreza, 32, St. Petersburg.


The starting point of this project was based on the similarities between the two spaces: the display windows that function as exhibition spaces in Alkovi and in Vitrina – Local Library Window. Alkovi is a relatively small storefront display space in Kallio area in Helsinki and Vitrina in comparison – having huge 20-meter glass cases as the facade of this local library – is located at the suburb of Vyborgsky area in St. Petersburg.

As we began to outline the project we started to focus on what attributes differences – how the connections and distances are made, maintained and manifested through practices and thinking patterns. We wanted to ask how we could gain understanding on the elements that we perceive as being familiar to us also in comparison to those that seem foreign.

These basic questions played an integral role in the process of finding a way to access this particular collaboration and to gather our thoughts concerning the attributes of a site. With the project we also wanted to look into what possibilities are entailed in the outsider’s perspective. The library where this project takes place provides an interesting entry point for examining the complexities attached to different sites – as well as communities formed through locations and activities connected to them.

When we (Miina Hujala & Arttu Merimaa) visited the library for the first time in 2014 we were immediately drawn into the how “different” – at the same time excotic and mundane – it looked. Since we were incapable to participate of the actual activity of the library (to read any of the actual books or magazines, them being all in Russian) we paid more attention to the actual space, the people that used it and the surrounding atmosphere.

Library as a site also manifests the variety of understandings and attitudes. The context of the library points towards the construction of meaning through preservation of memory encapsulated in the collection and made accessible to the community that forms through its usage. A visitor of a site becomes a temporary member of the activity but the possibilities of access to the community hinge on a type of negotiation. It is not irrelevant through with terms and methods this negotiation is conducted – how an “entry” is gained. What is ’local’ must in some sense always be described again – activating our perception of the habits, roles and procedures that we perceive as “common” – realizing how the things we recognize and connections that we make crucially base conceptions of values.

The curators and organizers of the exhibition Hujala, Merimaa & Shabanov invited three artists to participate on the project. Crystal Bennes, Tanja Koponen and Mikko Kuorinki were asked each to present a work in the context of the library.

In ’Peer Review’ Crystal Bennes interviews the users and visitors of the library and brings into view the people behind the (normally anonymous) loans. She selected books from the library's collection that dealt with science as subject and contacted the persons that had recently loaned these books. Interviews and discussions will be made into a book that brings. forward the private members and active users of the library.

Tanja Koponen utilizes in her installation the main window space facing the street. Her work consists of letters printed on sheets of paper attached on the window and motioned by ventilation fans. The letters – turned around by the airflow – spell out the word ’Hope’ (Н-А-Д-Е-Ж-Д-А) in Russian. This gesture brings out the possibilities embedded in activating thoughts on our future.

Mikko Kuorinki utilizes words as a part of his practice and points towards the integral necessity to examine and understand – as well as to structure – the world through meanings – tied in with concepts and ideas presented through text. His light box work ’Spaghetti and Blankets’ is demonstrative of the complexities of simplicity in action – the notion of attaining focus on the substantiality of the commonplace. Accompanying this will be an edition of an ongoing set of works ’Shrine’ that will manifest and amplify the role and procedures attached to objects included in the process of understanding, believing and commemorating. An audio excerpt of the piece ‘Soft Soft’ – a text that Kuorinki has been working since July 2016 will be presented at the exhibition.

The project is a part of Connecting Points program of HIAP (Helsinki International Artist Programme) that Miina Hujala and Arttu Merimaa are currently coordinating. The program aims to examine the understandings embedded in different sites and locations. The activity of Alkovi and this project is supported by Kone foundation and the Connecting Points program by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland. We wish also to thank the Finnish Consulate in St.Petersburg and the Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg for their help and support in the arrangements.


Artists’ words & bios:

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Mikko Kuorinki lives and works in Helsinki, Finland. He holds a BA in photography from Turku Art Academy and received his MFA from University of Arts and Design Helsinki. He has recently had solo exhibitions at institutions such as CAC in Vilnius, The Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki, Finlands institutet in Stockholm and Skånes Konstförening in Malmö. His recent group exhibitions include Kim? (Riga), Frankfurter Kunstverein and La Panacee (Montpellier).

” Shrine (St Petersburg), 2016 I’ve made Shrine -series in 12 different places, for example in Oslo, Seoul, Detroit... St Petersburg will be 13th. I wanted to make my own shrine after I saw a modest looking shrine in a Thai restaurant placed in a corner high near the ceiling. I wanted to make myself think about what to place in a shrine. Some of the items have a lot of personal meaning attached to them and some have none. Some are loaded and some are empty, some are there to get sort of charged. I want to raise these objects for a while to this shelf, so they would have no other function for that period of time. Somehow my guiding line was also how truck drivers collect stuff on their windshields.

СПАГЕТТИ & ОДЕЯЛА, 2013/2016 Spaghetti & Blankets has been exhibited before in Den Haag, in this version I wanted to have it translated into Russian. The text comes from a punch line of a stand-up comic.

Soft soft (working title), 2016

Since July 2016 Mikko Kuorinki has been working on a book. Fragment of the book will be presented in the exhibition. ”

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Tanja Koponen is an artist based in Helsinki. She has graduated from the Department of Time and Space in The Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki in 2005. Her works are site- and situation specific installations that mostly consist of sound and video elements as well as photographs and objects. She has also graduated as a photographer from the Institute of Design in the Lahti University of Applied Sciences. In most of her works she deals with the problematic of photography and reality by projecting an image of a past inner moment in conjunction with the present. Recently Koponen has had solo shows at Hippolyte gallery in Helsinki as well as in gallery Anhava project space and the project space of the Finnish Museum of Photography. In 2006 she has also exhibited a work in Anna Ahmatova Museum in St. Petersburg.



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Crystal Bennes is a writer and artist based in Helsinki and London. Her work draws on a wide range of subjects – from the origins of agriculture to the history of speculative utopias and from cutting-edge neutrino experiments to the future of energy – and combines academic research methodologies with traditional and innovative modes of material experimentation. Recent bodies of work have investigated the visual culture of particle physics experiments at CERN, philosophical and scientific approaches to uncertainty, the Struve Geodetic Arc and large-scale surveying projects, and the language and aesthetics of urban development and gentrification. She also writes on art, architecture and design for a wide range of media, including Icon, Disegno, Apollo and Metropolis.

”Every book has its history. Not only does each exist as a text – with a history of writing and editing, publication, reception, translation etc. – but each book also exists as an object to be read and handled, passed around, or left forgotten on a dusty library shelf. Just as our minds are shaped by the books we read, so each book bears the traces of its former readers. Within a scientific context, such texts also form the grounds for subsequent research or they fall out of favour once new paradigms emerge. More popular scientific texts, such as one might expect to discover on the shelves of a local public library, also help to shape the public’s understanding of scientific ideas.”

Peer Review explores the transmission of scientific ideas through books in a series of interviews with the community of readers who use St Petersburg Library No. 1. Taking the form of a limited-edition publication, the work features a number of interviews with the most recent person to have borrowed certain scientific books pre-selected by the artist. The work interrogates the relationship between people and books and situates the library not only as a repository of information but also as an active agent in the creation of community, identity, knowledge, and place.”


Artists' websites:

crystalbennes.com

kuorinki.com

tanjakoponen.com



Launched in 2013, the Local Library Window: Contemporary Art About Everyone for Everyone operates as a summer non-commercial exhibition space. The author and curator of the project, Andy Shabanov was inspired by a pop-up show of Evgenia Golant, which she organized in the window space in summer 2012. The current exhibition closes the fourth season of the project, which is by now traditionally organized in close co-operation with the library team.

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The project is a part of Connecting Points program of HIAP (Helsinki International Artist Programme) that Miina Hujala and Arttu Merimaa are currently coordinating. The program aims to examine the understandings embedded in different sites and locations. The activity of Alkovi and this project is supported by Kone foundation and the Connecting Points program by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Finland. We wish also to thank the Finnish Consulate in St.Petersburg and the Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg for their help and support in the arrangements.
With thanks also to the director and the staff of the library for their help in the organization of the exhibition, as well as to Café ZOOM and Café Print in Saint Petersburg for the support and assistance.