MAO CHIC BANKING
24 February 2013, Cervera de los Montes
We all know the Che chic, a fashion trend featuring the Argentinian born Cuban revolutionary, Ernesto Che Guevara. Many anti-communists have been shocked to see how popular a Marxist hero can be and they have tried to explain that most of the people wearing a Che t-shirt don’t have a clue about communism.
You can buy anywhere in the world any object with Che’s face and the same applies to another revolutionary, Mao Zedong, who is still a huge icon in China. Beijing’s souvenir shops are full of mugs, umbrellas and clothing with the image of the great helmsman.
More surprising was to find chairman Mao on the front page of the website of my bank – the Finnish subsidiary of the Danish Danske Bank. The image shows the Tiananmen gate of the Forbidden City with the portrait of Mao and the slogans Long Live the People's Republic of China and Long Live the Unity of the Peoples of the World. The text on the website reads: New normal. The world has changed and it requires a change in us too.
Meanwhile, I received an e-mail telling that I've been shortlisted for a painting competition of another bank. Have the bankers finally lost their blind faith in capitalism? Now they celebrate revolutionary leaders and communist artists.
I AM A COMMUNIST
20 February 2013, Cervera de los Montes
Before traveling to Syria devastated by the civil war, I knew that the journey was going to change me profoundly, though that time I didn't know how. Living the suffering so close in Damascus last summer, was the end of my ambivalence and irony and the beginning of a new attitude - as an artist, an intellectual and a public person I must say what I think and where I stand. In Syria, I understood that I had to support the secular and multicultural society despite the propaganda of the Western media.
I used to think that an artist had to be always critical with everything and "shoot to all directions" but now I understand how easy it is to disagree with everybody. It's much more difficult to support something and unite with people and movements that believe in same or similar ideas.
Now I have joined the Communist Party of Spain, which is a Marxist party that aims to participate democratically in the revolutionary transformation of the society and its political structures in the overcoming of the capitalist system and the construction of socialism in Spain as a contribution to the change towards socialism in the global context in the perspective of the ideal emancipation of communism. (The translation from Spanish is mine.)
The general secretary of the Party in my area has secured me that I have a total freedom as artist and intellectual. I still don't know if there will be any changes in my art work. At least, I think I'll have less opportunities to exhibit than before. I suspect that most of the museum directors, curators and gallerists prefer not to show art of a card-carrying communist. My art is political and exhibiting it is a political act too.
Some might laugh that the communists are not very trendy in these turbo-capitalist times but to me equality and justice are always in fashion. Hasta la victoria siempre!
16 February 2013, Helsinki
My intervention Riiko Sakkinen's Favorite Books went viral. I spent €1000 that I hid in the books of the Rikhardinkatu public library but I believe it's the most economic work I've ever done. The media attention I got was unprecedented. Just compare the time and the costs organizing exhibitions that normally get rather limited visibility.
Last Monday, I was the top news, ranking number one, on the websites of Iltalehti and Ilta-Sanomat, the two big Finnish sensationalist tabloid newspapers. I was bigger in Finland than the Pope who resigned while I was hiding the bank notes. I brought my kids to ski and ended up giving a huge amount of interviews.
At the moment at least seven of the 200 notes have been found - after I tweeted some hints - inside Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, Mundus Liber exhibiton catalog by Jani and me, Kiasma's Tracking Traces catalog, Lenin's On the Socialist Revolution, a Moomin book in German, a monograph of Picabia and Pierre Bourdieu and Hans Haacke's Free Exchange. Art collector Eeropekka Rislakki has bought one for €50 and is willing to add more of them in his collection.
MONEY IN A PUBLIC LIBRARY
11 February 2013, Helsinki
I’m in Helsinki on vacation because my Spanish kids wanted to ski and play in the snow but this morning I worked a bit and did a small intervention called Riiko Sakkinen’s Favorite Books at the Rikhardinkatu Public Library. The action consisted simply of hiding 1000 euros in five-euro bank notes (signed by me) inside the books, ranging from fiction to non-fiction, from classics to novelties and from comics to poetry. The work, which is not a collaboration with the library, is an homage to libraries, literature, books and reading. This particular library is where I went when I was kid and became a book worm. If you are in Helsinki, go to the library, choose a book and maybe you get enough money to read it with a pint of beer or a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream!
MORE A HUMAN BEING THAN AN ARTIST
06 February 2013, Cervera de los Montes
I resigned my membership, after 15 years, in the Finnish Artists' Association of Finland which aims to promote the professional and social interests of its 3000 member artists in the fields of art policy and artist policy. Unfortunately, my interests are not the same with the rest of these 2999 artists. I don’t like the art most of them do, I see it unnecessary and sinister. Frankly, the world would be better without their art works. I have nothing in common with them, actually, we have totally different professions. They sell used cars or decorate walls - I'm trying to change the world or at least to make the horrors of the global capitalism visible. I don't care much about art. I used to be a total artist but now I'm more a human being.
500 IDEAS TO STIMULATE REVOLUTIONARY CREATIVITY
01 February 2013, Cervera de los Montes
I came across a curious book series by Revolutionary Books, which seems to be both the author and the publisher. It’s a wide collection of titles ranging from self-help to manuals and from children’s books to manifestos. Revolutionary Books seems to be linked to the Revolutionary Communalist Party. Communalism is a libertarian socialist or anarchist political philosophy coined by author and activist Murray Bookchin as a political system to complement his environmental philosophy of social ecology.
The volumes of Revolutionary Books include titles like Are You a Revolutionary or a Reactionary - 500 Questions to Help You Find Out, Why You Should Give Up Your Wealth and Join the Revolution - A Guidebook For the Upper Class, Confessions of a Former Investment Banker, The Banker Who Stole Our Home (this is an illustrated book for kids!), How to Revolutionize Your Child – A Guidebook for Parents, The Revolutionary Teenager’s Handbook, Why You Should Drop Out of College and Join the Revolutionary Struggle - A Guidebook, The Anti-McDonald’s Manifesto, The Art of Agitation - A Handbook for Aspiring Revolutionary Agitators, The Book of Revolutionary Twitter Ideas: 505 Revolutionary Feeds Anyone Can Start, Why Being an Unproductive Worker for Capitalist Corporations is Revolutionary, The Revolutionary Diet Book and How to Identify Traitors to the Left - A Guidebook.
Are books are just a hoax or an art project of a reactionary artist mocking the revolutionaries? The series includes also Revolutionary Art Ideas: 500 Ideas to Stimulate the Flow of Revolutionary Creativity, which contains ideas for aspiring dissident artist that are designed to stimulate revolution in the in the audience. Ideas range from topics such as the fast food industry to concepts like the military-industrial complex. Maybe I buy that book if one day I run out of inspiration.