SYRIAN HOT 100
28 August 2011, Cervera de los Montes
I'm supposed to travel to Damascus, Syria, next Sunday. I´m going to be artist-in-residence at the Finnish Institute in the Middle East, if the delicate situation of the country allows it and the Institute continues working normally.
My schedule includes a visit to Aleppo where Issa Touma, the director of the Le Pont gallery, the International Photo Festival and the International Women's Art Festival, has invited me to lecture and give a two-day workshop to the local students. I have my flights from Damascus to Aleppo September 8th.
The theme of the workshop are lists. I'm going to ask the art students to create lists drawings like the works I've been doing several years. I give the form and they put the content. I imagine that we could have a great set of Syrian lists ranging from football to politics and from nail polish to religion. Or maybe the participants surprise me with something totally different. I'm going to propose them to use the lists for my installation at the Access & Paradox Art Fair, where I do a solos show with Galerie e.l Bannwarth in October.
THE CAUSTIC INTELLIGENTSIA
25 August 2011, Cervera de los Montes
The Urban Dictionary describes an intellectual as someone who has found something more interesting than sex and alcohol. I get excited when people listen to what I want to say.
I was invited to form part of the HS-raati. It is a group of 120 Finnish intellectuals who tell weekly their opinions on current issues in Helsingin Sanomat, the almighty newspaper in Finland.
I think I achieved one of my goals as artist and public person. I'm interviewed now every week. This is the role that I always wanted to have. And I promise that I´m not going give good answers but I´ll be more caustic, mordacious and corroding than ever.
Lenin remarked that the intelligentsia is not the brain of the nation, it is the feces of the nation. Ladies and gentlemen, be prepared to shit your pants!
THE WEEKEND IN THE PARADISE
21 August 2011, Hormigos
I spending the weekend with my family and the families of my daughter's class mates in a camping site called El Paraiso (The Paradise). It is an ugly place by a dirty river. The area is full of lower middle class people playing favelas. I just don't get it, do they think there's something glamorous in the poverty? Or are they really trailer trash? I need an analysis by the late Jean Baudrillad.
The fathers of the kids wanted to speak about politics and they all have the most comfortable way of thinking: praise the regime and criticize the government, mock some details an don't question the system.
NO BLOOD FOR OIL COLOR
15 August 2011, Helsinki
Why nobody told me how easy it's to paint with oil colors? It may sound strange but I had never tried that classic material before. I've been always painting with acrylic. I though it was a perfect medium to depict the plastic world. When I was in the art school I didn't learn to paint, edit video or take photographs because I needed the full five years to find out what it is the art, what is the art world and how to be an artist.
I spent the weekend in Katja's studio in the old Cable Factory. Katja had two abandoned canvases andwe finished them togeher to be D-day (Doomsday) and C-day (Commence day, when the US soldiers begin an operation they get candy and call it candy day).
With the oil colors you don't need talent or skills, anyone could paint. I'm not going to touch never again in the acrylic color bullshit. Katja asked me to paint all her ribbons and flowers in the future. So I have a studio assistant's job secured if I fail as artist.
I'm bubble bathing in the Riiko Sakkinen Suite of Hotel Klaus K (431) reading Xiaolu Guo's UFO in Her Eyes and listening Alizée´s Mes Courants Électriques.
STINKY CHOU DOUFU FOR BREAKFAST
11 August 2011, Helsinki
We just had a traditional Chinese breakfast, congee with side dishes including super stinky chòu dòufu. Judas complained about it because Hotel Klaus K has an amazing local food and organic breakfast branded as Best of Finland. The Chinese stuff was my idea for Korjaamo Galleria's VIP breakfast for curators, collectors and press - and they loved it. And they seemed tolike our works a bit, too.
The week has been good except the calamitous beginning. On Sunday morning 4am Judas phoned me that he was at the Beijing Airport and didn't have the flight ticket. The gallery had messed it up. My tickets existed and the furious Judas arrived one day late in Helsinki. That meant that I installed without him China for Dummies in the Culture Tram on Monday. We still had to finish a couple of drawings together but Ivonen framed them in less than 24 hours. The Operation Golden Monkey installation looks perfect, it looks like China as Minna said. She's the sinologist specialized in the contemporary art whos is participating in the discussion about the Chinese art world this afternoon in the gallery.
Now we are going to give an interview to Radio86, a propaganda station in Finland financed by the Chinese Government. Judas said that if I say something provocative, they don't let him go back home. I'm just going t tell how much I love the Communist Party of China.
OPERATION GOLDEN MONKEY SCHEDULE
06 August 2011, Cervera de los Montes
SUNDAY. 6.30 Leaving from Cervera de los Montes. 10.10 Finnair flight AY3184 from Madrid to Helsinki. 16.00 Meeting Judas at the Helsinki airport. 17.00 Checking in the Riiko Sakkinen Suite of Hotel Klaus K. 18.00 Finishing the drawings with Judas.
MONDAY. 10.00 Scanning the drawings at Korjaamo Galleria. 12.00 Installing China for Dummies in the Culture Tram. 17.00 Planning the installation at the gallery.
TUESDAY. 10.00 Fixing a damaged painting at the gallery and installing Operation Golden Monkey.
WEDNESDAY. 10.00 Installing.
THURSDAY. 8.30 VIP breakfast at the gallery for curators and collectors (traditional Chinese food). Interviews with the press, radio and TV. 13.30 Pre-opening lunch. More interviews. 16.30 A public discussion about the Chinese art world with Judas, Timo and the sinologist Minna Valjakka. 18.00 Opening reception. 20.00 Dinner banquet.
FRIDAY. 7.00 Farewell breakfast for Judas at the hotel. 12.00 Meeting with Katja at her studio, planning our collaborative paintings.
SATURDAY. 10.00 Painting with Katja.
SUNDAY. 10.00 Painting with Katja.
MONDAY. 15.00 Signing with Eeris my screen prints.
TUESDAY. 17.00 Finnair flight 3183 from Helsinki to Madrid.
DEMOCRATIC SELF-CENSORSHIP IN HELSINKI
01 August 2011, Cervera de los Montes
I finished the Operation Golden Monkey drawings, sent the pictures to Judas and he liked them a lot. Next Sunday we both travel to Helsinki to install the show at Korjaamo Galleria - it will include also the paintings we did in Beijing two years ago and a slide show titled China for Dummies. The slide show will be exhibited also in the Culture Tram, a project coordinated by Korjaamo in collaboration with the public transport company of Helsinki. The Culture Tram is a real operating tram in a normal line. It's a fantastic to do the tram but I should have guessed what is the attitude of the bureaucrats. Lani, the tram project's producer, has a hard time trying to secure the artistic freedom to us and please the conservative bureaucrats of Helsinki Region Transport.
Lani e-mailed this morning: (...) As for the material, which is most versatile and comprehensive, there are still some pictures that I would leave out - based on our discussion earlier about pictures including violence/nudity/sexuality. It's agreed with HSL (Helsinki Region Transport) that the material on display is suited for all ages, since anyone can hop on the tram.
Judas replied immediately: We will do a new video and take a out all those images but it feels like working for a Chinese governmental company.
Do you prefer the Chinese censorship or the democratic self-censorship?