ICE HOCKEY POLITICS
30 March 2012, Cervera de los Montes
Ice hockey and human rights are big things in Finland. The Finns believe they are number ones in the both of these sports, that are played mainly in the rich Northern countries.
Today Helsingin Sanomat newspaper published my answer to the HS panel question should the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championships to be moved away from Minsk, Belarus? Paavo Arhinmäki, the Finnish minister of culture and sports demanded the sport boycott earlier because of president Lukashenko's opposition crackdown and recent executions of two presumed terrorists.
It is simple populism to claim boycotting tiny rogue states. It would need more balls to demand the relocating sporting events from the United States. Belarus is oppressing its own citizens, but the United States tramples human rights around the world.
The idea that the politics and the sport should not be mixed, is as naive as to claim that the economic, cultural or social issues should not be mixed with the politics. Politicizing sport is precisely the task of the minister of sports.
MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE
29 March 2012, Cervera de lso Montes
Spanish unions are holding today a general strike to protest against radical labor reforms which the new conservative government hopes will help cut unemployment - and the fundamental rights of the workers.
CAC Malaga, a museum with an ambitious and international program - announces proudly on Twitter that they and other key museums of Malaga , Thyssen and Picasso, open the doors normally and without incidents. Picasso museum - but Pablo Picasso was communist!
We have to face the fact, that though the art institutions love to show anti-capitalist art, they openly support the turbo-capitalism. The marriage of convenience between the Art and the Art World is a calamity. I want a divorce.
MY FAVORITE AMERICAN WORDS
28 March 2012, Cervera de los Montes
I love the United States of America. To describe that amazing country and its culture I would use the following words:
Abuse, Alcohol, Animal shelter, Beer, Birthday, Bloodshed, Bodily function, Cancer, Catastrophe, Christmas, Cigarette, Celebrity, Crime, Death, Disaster, Disease, Divorce, Drug, Evolution, Gambling, Gift, Gun, Halloween, Homelessness, Hunting, Hurricane, Junk food, Knife, Liquor, Nuclear weapon, Occultism, Parapsychology, Politics, Pornography, Poverty, Ramadan, Rap, Rat, Religion, Roach, Rock-and-Roll, Running away, Sex, Slavery, Sorcery, Swimming pool, Television, Terrorism, Tobacco, Tsunami, Unemployment, Vacation, Vermin, Video game, Violence, War, Weapon, Witchcraft, Yom Kippur.
The list consists of the words that will be banned from New York State schools' tests. The educational authorities believe that the identified words could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.
TRIUMPH OR DIE - TRUE PAINTING
27 March 2012, Cervera de los Montes
The first lesson a painter must learn is that he is a doomed man. Unless he understands this, he does not grasp the essential meaning of his art.
Painting is not a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a revolution, nor a piece of embroidery. It cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly, and modestly.
A painting is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it drop.
In painting, one triumphs or dies (if it is true painting).
DEATH THREATS FROM THE TRUE FINNS
23 March 2012, Cervera de los Montes
I'm a member of HS-raati, a panel of Finnish intellectuals that reply weekly to questions of Helsingin Sanomat, Finland's leading newspaper. This week we were asked is racism taken seriously enough in Finland?
One of the background fact given was that half of the voters of the popular far-right party True Finns agree with the statement that "people of some races simply just do not fit to live in a modern society". I turned it upside down and answered that some people, like the True Finns, simply just just do not fit to live in a modern society.
Now there is a vivid discussion going on at Hommaforum, a website of the xenofobic faction of the True Finns. This is what they say:
Riiko Sakkinen is a cancer.
I couldn't find Riiko Sakkinen's address , other than that he lives in Spain. I want to know where to book my flight, of course, only one-way ticket. (Referring to murder me in a suicide bomb attack.)
A suicide bomber should be sent to Sakkinen's place. He doesn't fit in the society.
A person who denies his roots and mocks his fellow citizens is broken. Sakkinen is something else than a genuine Finn. (If the True Finns are the only genuine Finns I definitely don't want to be one.)
I also received some hate mail accusing me being communist but I have no problem with that, dear True Finns. I'm not going to bomb you but I do whatever I can to eradicate your rotten ideas.
22 March 2012, Cervera de os Montes
Last week we did my first supermarket intervention. I was talking to Luis about the work titled Freedom Shopping I was planning to do one day in a gallery space. He said that it would be much more interesting to do it on-site in a hypermarket. We drove to Carrefour, got three shopping carts and filled them monochromatically with blue, red and white groceries, the colors of the flag of the French Republic and many other countries advocating freedom, democracy, capitalism and other harms globally.
I got really agitated when the hypermarket staff began to be suspicious about our activity and remembered why I did-t become international terrorist despite of my adolescent dream. To be a real warrior you need to be much more callous and hard-boiled - you have to bomb the hypermarkets. Painting the atrocities of the capitalism is more suitable for cowards like me.
ISSA TOUMA'S TRUE WORD ABOUT SYRIA
19 March 2012, Cervera de los Montes
Issa is photographer, curator and cultural activist living in Aleppo, Syria. He is the director of the Le Pont Organization, which hosted my list workshop last September. This is what he writes about the current situation:
Almost no one had an idea in his brain map of the location of Syria before March 2011. If I said it was at the Southern border of Turkey - in Western brains, it was nowhere! But if I said it was at the Northeastern border of Israel everyone knew where it was. Unfortunately, nowadays because of the political situation in the country and the news coverage, almost every person knows where it is. One year ago, I searched in Google how many pages there were about our leaders and I got less than five thousand hits but currently the number has jumped up to nine million. They are mostly about blood only. As Syrians we suffer a lot from the unfair media coverage of the situation and the local and the international policies.
Bad publicity is good publicity, and now everyone knows where the “bleeding” Syria is! Syria’s picture in the international media: a country that supports terrorism, a country where the opposition suffers and the government puts dissidents in jail. It seems as there is no brighter side of the story. Between the years 2005 and 2007, I also had a lot of political problems with the regime, which at the time had a very good international coverage. I had to fight for the right to protect my work, my life and the freedom of my activity as an art curator.
Syria is a country like any other country, we have nice people and bad people, we have a good opposition, but also a bad one. We have good politicians in the government and bad ones too. Some good politicians finally have helped me solve some of my problems with the regime. We also have people who dream of a good life and a bright future. And we have people who simply do not appreciate the government‘s work, but they surely love their country.
As a Syrian citizen, I think the experience of this past year will help the Syrian people. I think the solution will be very helpful to all of us, including the Syrian Government that now needs to refresh the entire system and think about new and serious methods to develop the country and the society that wears many masks which need to be removed - especially the mask of the religion - and take practical steps to achieve a good political life and provide the basic needs of the life and the culture.
In the end, I think we owe ourselves a big mirror, the Westerners and the Syrians. We should be a good mirror, even if we may break at a certain time!
THE CHARM OF THE UNFAMILIAR PROBLEMS
14 March 2012, Cervera de los Montes
I work with global political, economical and social themes. I'm aware that there is a great danger that my works are just another piece of colonialist exoticism.
Exoticism, by definition, is "the charm of the unfamiliar." Scholar Alden Jones defines exoticism in art as the representation of one culture for the consumption by another. A classic archetypical exoticist is the artist Paul Gauguin who, in 1891, sailed to Tahiti to escape "everything that is artificial and conventional" and to paint and abuse sexually local prepubescent girls. His Polynesian works were obviously targeted for European market.
I finished my series of Mexican drawings, based on materials I got from my voyage to Monterrey last year, and was eager to know how my Mexican friends contextualized them. I was afraid of them being full of exotic clichés about the narco-capitalism.
Brenda said: Your works are very strong and shocking for our culture and situation. You captured perfectly our problems and I see that you've done good investigation about the issues. Terrific!
Juan Carlos said: It's good that that somebody shows us a the lovely and funny side of all the filth we have here. We are turning too pessimist but seeing your works gives hope - they make us laugh about our problems and that's a great medicine for the soul.
Damián said: Jajajajaja, pinche artista asesino, están chingonas. La de aqui andamos es la mejor, pinche Riiko, mamón. Te mando un abrazo, broder, aunque te burles de nuestras desgracias.
09 March 2012, Cervera de los Montes
One of the persons with whom I've been working several years and several exhibitions, doesn't want to include my works in shows anymore if my art doesn't develop in its "formal expression". This person thinks that what I do looks always the same, the only changes are in "the motives and the topics of the social or political critic" and adds that what I do is "perfectly legitimate but not enough". Obviously, I don't agree.
I see myself changing and developing all the time, both formally and conceptually - not as an obsession but in a natural way. I'm just thinking the new techniques I included during last year in my repertoire: In Syria, I did my first photographic work and organized a workshop with local people to create in collaboration with them a set of list drawings. In Monterrey, I combined video projection with a mural painting and graffitied the facade of Pristine Galerie. In Talavera de la Reina, I got painted my first series of ceramic plates with figures. At the studio, I did coloring page drawings with the participation of my daughter and her friend. In my paintings, I tested new varnishes, polyurethane foams, oil colors (I´ve always painted with acrylic and enamel), and bigger sizes than ever before. I also expanded my expression and thematics by doing collaborative works with Judas (drawings and a slide show) and Katja (paintings).
If that is not enough formal and conceptual investigation and development for just one year, there's nothing I can do about it. Thank you and sorry.
THE END OF INNOCENCE
07 March 2012, Cervera de los Montes
My daughter, about to lose her second milk tooth, told me today that she doesn't believe anymore in Ratoncito Pérez - the mouse who exchanges the teeth to gifts in Spain.
In his 1970 song God John Lennon listed idols that he does not believe in: magic, I Ching, Bible, tarot, Hitler, Jesus, Kennedy, Buddha, mantra, Gita, yoga, Elvis, and kings. My Daughter still believes in the Three Kings from the East, who bring presents to Spanish kids on the day of Epiphany. On the other hand, she doesn't believe in monsters though I'm afraid that soon she will realize that the world is full of them. The Spanish government fired her teacher last week - here the human sacrifice is practiced to please the monster of capitalism whom we fear and worship.
The dream is over
What can I say?
02 March 2012, Cervera de los Montes
A friend of mine, a famous New Yorker artist, I met on Sunday in Madrid on his way to Helsnki, told me that he always accepts the conditions set by the exhibition organizers. He wasn't going to receive any artist's fee for participating in an important show in a Finnish museum - but didn't complain.
I do complain and have suicidal tendencies in the professional sense by burning bridges where ever I go. I'm a member of Muu, a Finnish interdisciplinary artist association, which is a member of the Artists' Association of Finland aiming to promote the professional and social interest of artists and securing favorable conditions for them.
Now my slide show Syria for Dummies has been selected for the exhibition Personal City organized by Muu and I found out that I'm not going to be paid for it. Of course the production costs of my work are neither covered.
I think it's not very credible that the artists' associations demand that the museums and other institutions pay artists' fees when they don't do it in the projects organized by themselves. My conclusion is that I will participate in the show but resign my membership.