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Immanent Evaluation - Fazer's Infamous Products


28 November 2011, Cerveral de los Montes

I got a proposal from Hasan & Partners, a prominent Finnish advertising agency owned by Ami Hasan, who is also an art collector and the vice-chairman of Kiasma Foundation.

Our client Fazer (one of the largest corporations in the Finnish food industry) launches a new product next year. The campaign relies on street art, which I guess you are familiar with. Eight artists will make a work in the streets of Finnish cities based on drawings done by public on Facebook. Would you be interested to participate?

I replied that I’m an anticapitalist artist working against big corporations. I need a total freedom to do a work that might be critical with consumerism, food industry and your client.

Then they understood that they had approached a totally wrong artist: Unfortunately your attitude is too radical for Fazer’s campaign. We are looking for artists who have similar values with us and our client.

Last time I collaborated with a big company, the French surf wear brand Oxbow, the CEO was fired. How can they imagine that I could share capitalists’ values when the purpose of my practice to destroy them?

Assad Family Cheese Spread - Winners


25 November 2011, Cervera

I received a nice phone call from Maria, telling me that Espacio Trapecio in Madrid wants to show my Syrian works in December. It's fantastic to show these works when they are still hot. It's horrible that the violence continues in Syria but from an opportunist point of view it makes the stuff stronger.

I will exhibit the slide show Syria for Dummies, a selection of 20 lists made by the participants of my workshop at Le Pont Gallery, Aleppo, and also my brand new drawings made of Syrian consumer culture and political imagery including Potato Al Arabi Batman, Hezbollah Love Candy, Fulla Doll Toasted Cereal, Assad Family Cheese Spread and Syrian Poultry Republic.

Polyphagia - Eat More And You Get More


21 November 2011, Cervera de los Montes

All the Spanish newspapers tell about the total victory of PP, which promises growth. According to Medicine Online website, PP stands for polyphagia, a medical sign meaning exceccive hunger and abnormally large intake of solids.

Some countries with PP may grow and gain weight. Others may lose weight in spite of swallowing more. This is the case for countries with hyperthyroidism. Other long-term effects are related to the cause of the problem. Growth spurts in young democracies but a severe depression may result in an inability to work or interact with others.

Operation Meet Cute - Riiko Sakkinen: Rat Trap


16 November 2011, Cervera de los Montes

Last summer, I was fighting against a invasion of ants in my kitchen. I placed the foodstuff in hermetic containers and employed chemical weapons against the filthy immigrants. Raid Ant Baits III are marketed with the slogan kill those you see and those you don't see. I felt no sympathy towards the ants though I've seen the animated film Antz (or actually the beginnging - my daughter said it was too violent and we switched off the TV). I named the campaign Operation White Homeland and it resulted to the victory of the human race defending legally (according to the international law) its home and property.

Few days ago, I noticed that pieces of bread and cinnamon rolls were disappearing and I was suspecting my one-year-old son but on Sunday I saw something with a long tail running through the kitchen floor and hiding under the fridge. The problem in fighting against the rodent is that one of our favorite movies is Ratatouille, which tell the story of Remy, a rat who dreams of becoming a chef and tries to achieve his goal by forming an alliance with a Parisian restaurant's garbage boy. My six-year-old daughter thinks that now she will eat Michelin-star level molecular food coooked by a team formed by her clumsy father and a cute rat.

I'm not going to tell to my kids that I got from my brother-in-law some cyanide-based rodenticide Uragan D2 (previously know infamously as Zyklon B and employed by Nazis to kill human beings in gas chambers of extermination camps). This campaign is named Operation Meet Cute.

I Wanna Doll You Up - Fulla


11 November 2011, Cervera de los Montes

I'm drawing Fulla, a doll targeted to Muslim girls as an alternative to Barbie, which is banned in some Islamist countries. Fulla is a role-model to some Muslim parents showing how they would prefer their daughters to dress and behave. Compared to Barbie, Fulla is flat-chested and wears black abaya and head scarf for the Saudi market. For more liberal countries Fulla is not veiled, and is equipped with a white scarf and a pastel coat. According to the owner of the brand, Dubai based New Boy, Fulla is loving, caring, honest, and respects her mother and father. Fulla will not have a boyfriend, because traditional Muslims (neither Christians!) do not believe in romantic relationships out of wedlock.

The idea of the covering women's heads is to protect them from the lascivious gazes of men but, curiously, I find scarfed women much more sexually arousing than the naked prostitutes in the window displays in some European cities. I'm falling in love with Fulla and I hope she grows up secular and will not be brainwashed by the Wahhabites who warn the girls: When you take Fulla out of the house, don't forget her new spring abaya!

Syria For Dummies - Mexican Flavor In Syria


07 November 2011, Cervera de los Montes

The works I did in Syria in September are still looking for an opportunity to be exhibited soon, when they are still hot and crispy. If the current regime falls, they become historical documents, which doesn't make them worse but naturally very different. I think they deserve to be shown for the first time while the status quo continues.

Riiko Sakkinen - featuring Aline Azoyan, Nour Hourami, Nathalie Kargian, May Kolang, Reem Al-Naji, Nour Othman, Ahmad Qaddura, Emad Salem, Mohammad Shankal and Toufik Wazzaz.

Riiko Sakkinen co-produced a prevalent project Syria for Dummies during a one-month residency in Damascus and Aleppo. He documented the streets, interviewed local people and conducted a workshop, which resulted in this project consisting of two parts, a homonymous slideshow of 367 photos and a 25- part series of list drawings done by the participants of the workshop at Le Pont Gallery in Aleppo.

The slide show mixes three different themes: 1) Photos of president Bashar al-Assad, that the residents and shopkeepers of Damascus exhibit on their windows and walls, juxtaposing them with their other idols like Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah or Real Madrid’s Christiano Ronaldo, 2) graffiti on Damascian walls with messages from politics to pop music and love, 3) commercial imagery including local and imported product packaging and advertising.

The Aleppo Lists are written by the workshop participants, a heterogeneous group including bourgeois Christian art students and Palestinian youngsters from a refugee camp. The results range from My Favorite Perfums to Reforms I Want in My Country and from Food for Poor People to Must-haves in Syrian Armenian Girl’s Life.

Blank Canvas - Mexican Fortune Teller


03 November 2011, Cervera de los Montes

It's a strange situation not to be über busy. I don't remember when was the last time that I hadn't several exhibition deadlines in the near future. I've been missing this feeling of being able just to be at the studio and work in whatever I want without thinking where the works will be exhibited and how they will be contextualized. On the other hand, I feel the blank canvas terror always when I'm back in the studio after working in other kind of projects. I have to enjoy the freedom now before it's over: I'm setting up details for numerous shows next year in Shanghai, Ljubljana, Bogotá, Madrid and some other places.

Now I'm going to draw brave Syrian superheroes, hot Mexican fortune tellers and cute Japanese cakes.