27 December 2012, Cervera de los Montes
O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!
O memory that engraved the things I saw,
Here shall your worth be manifest to all!
In the Greek mythology, muses are the goddesses of the inspiration which refers to an unconscious burst of creativity in an artistic endeavor. When I’m having good drive at the studio, I don’t need the romantic inspiration in my vocabulary. The American painter Chuck Close said that amateurs look for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.
In the couple of last moths, I’ve done almost no new drawings or other works of art. Obviously, my job is not only creating artifacts but also thinking, writing, formulating ideas and collecting visual and conceptual material. I haven’t been lazy or inactive but everything I've put on paper has looked inconsequential. The inspiration exists only in its absence.
I try to learn to forget my cultural background – the protestant work ethic which emphasizes hard work as a display of a person's salvation. After living ten years in the catholic Spain, I try to understand that the best artist is not the one who produces the biggest number of works but who does the best works.
The prestigious Finnish art critic Otso Kantokorpi regularly underlines in his texts how hardworking the artists are – trying to convince the readers that the artists work just like any other craftsmen or entrepreneurs and as a result they should be appreciated as honorable professionals. It must sound really funny if you’re upbringing is not Lutherian.
Anyhow, now I can forget the inspiration again, think like Mr. Close and work like Mr. Kantokorpi’s favorite artists, because after hardships at the headquarters I have again the Muses with me.
WAR IS NOT OVER
23 December 2012, Cervera de los Montes
Old laws in the Nordic countries decreed a 20-day Christmas peace - during that time any offense had a harsher punishment than the rest of the year. In 1914, an unofficial Christmas truce took place between the French and the German troops fighting in the World War I.
I think there are no truces this holiday season. There are at least 20 ongoing wars, many of them mobilized or sponsored by the United States. Will the god-fearing Nobel peace price president Obama stop the drone attacks in Yemen or order his FSA insurgents to stop killing civilians in Syria? What is more, I don't think Capitalism declares any ceasefire during the holiday season - there is a lot of shit they have to sell us.
Last night, I was wrapping Santa's presents (I'm a victim of the consumerism too) when I heard the news: two Finns and an Austrian were abducted by unknown gunmen in Sanaa, Yemen, on Friday. It took me a while to understand that one of them is my good friend, though the names of the hostages weren't published. There are not too many "students learning Arabic" in the high-risk Sanaa. He's not going to eat any Christmas ham this year. I just hope the kidnappers are not Al Qaeda.
Unfortunately, war is not over, even if you want it.
16 December 2012, Cervera de los Montes
Christmas is red. Santa is red. And the revolution is red, too. I'm singing:
I'm dreaming of a red Christmas, just like the ones I used to know. Where red stars glisten, and children listen, to hear the Internationale in the snow.
I'm dreaming of a red Christmas, with every manifesto I write.
May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmases be red.
57 VARIETIES IN MY LIVING ROOM
10 December 2012, Cervera de los Montes
Man came by to hook up my cable TV
We settled in for the night my baby and me
We switched ’round and ’round ’til half-past down
There was fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on.
When I was a kid in the social democratic Finland, there were two TV channels and one of them broadcasted children’s program one hour per day. Bruce Springsteen’s song was released in 1992 and by that time there were already less social democracy in my home country and maybe some more channels, too. Still, 57 sounded amazing. I don’t know if Mr. Springsteen had exactly that amount of channels or was it just a reference to Heinz’s 57 varieties slogan.
Now I have more channels than they had in the United States twenty years ago but I never watch any of them. We have the cable TV for my daughter who likes to watch Doraemon or Shin Chan after lunch. I pay for 12 children’s channels and today I found out that she was watching one of the national public channels that can be watched for free. It seems that she understands nothing about the capitalism whose doctrine is that the more the thing costs, the better it is.
48 HRS. WRESTLING IN HELSINKI
05 December 2012, Cervera de los Montes
Do you remember 48hrs. - the 80's buddy cop film par excellence?
Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) and Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) enter a country and western bar.
Reggie: Not a very popular place with the brothers.
Jack: My kind of place. I always did like country boys. They're sure as hell going to love you.
Last Friday, I landed in the white Helsinki for a 48hrs business trip. White here is meant to be ambiguous but superficially it tells that there was a heavy snow storm in the city.
I left my baggage at the hotel and rushed to Jani and Mari’s opening reception at Showroom Helsinki. Later the gallery gave a huge dinner party in a French restaurant and we had some (meaning here too much) French wine and cognac. To finish off the night, we wanted to have a drink at Corona Bar, which was established by the Kaurismäki brothers and is now a hot spot for the Helsinki intelligentsia.
Unfortunately, the tavern's blond bouncer told that one of us was too tipsy to enter which seemed strange as we had been drinking together and the supposed drunkard was the only one not looking like having been living at least a hundred generations in Ultima Thule. Abdi is a young Kenian journalist, who is at the moment an asylum seeker in Finland for the articles he has written about the corruption in the administration and the armed forces of his country. I wrestled with the doorman in the snow but Abdi said laconically: Don’t worry. I’m just a nigger. I’m used to this in Helsinki.
The reason why I was in Finland was the Lens Politica Film and Media Art Festival. On Saturday, I had there two slide shows, Turbo Orientalism and Syrian Democracy, accompanied by my talks. By coincidence, the festival took place in Dubrovnik Lounge, a part of the same entertainment complex with Corona Bar. My first idea was to cancel and boycott the company but finally I decided that the film festival didn't have to pay for the doormonkey’s racism. The festival director was shocked to hear what had happened and I hope the xenophobe is not going to work more for my Helsinki hangout.
Reggie is shaking down a redneck and pulls a wad of money from his pocket.
Reggie: Man, you loaded. What the fuck's this?
Redneck: Tax refund!
Reggie: Bullshit! You're too fucking stupid to have a job!