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My Favorite Things In 2011 - Erkka Nissinen: Rigid Regime


27 December 2011, Cervera de los Montes

- Muammar Gaddafi's golden gun
- Syrian fruit smoothies
- Scootering in Paris
- Erkka Nissinen's video Rigid Regime
- Spicy breakfast tacos in Monterrey
- Osama Bin Laden's pornographic material
- Mano a Mano red wine
- Erotic lingerie in Damascus
- The tent city of the protesters at Puerta del Sol in Madrid
- Tishreen Panorama war museum in Damascus
- Jani Leinonen kidnapping Ronald McDonald in Helsinki
- The arrest of Ai Weiwei
- Malika night club in Aleppo
- My daughter's subscription of the Finnish Donald Duck magazine
- Erfan Khalifa's video The Young Refugee
- Club Allard restaurant in Madrid
- The rat that lived in my son's room and which I killed
- Our beach vacation in the Eastern Helsinki

A Stress Test - Syria For Dummies


20 December 2011, Cervera de los Montes

It's true that I have often conflicts with exhibition organizers, residency hosts and whatever institutions I work with. It doesn't happen by coincidence or bad luck but because I don't tolerate arrogance and unprofessionalism. Most of the artists prefer to be submissive and not to put in danger their future opportunities.

My project Syria for Dummies, that was inaugurated on Friday, was the first in Espacio Trapézio's exhibition series Stress Test. Ironically, it was one of the most stressing experiences I have had in my career (it was my solo show number 37).

In the beginning, I was happy that the non-profit space was fast to react and program this fresh project about ongoing events in Syria but their effort level resulted to be deplorable. I still have no idea why.

I was told November 22 that my show was scheduled for early or mid-December. Then the organization kept silence during a week but finally invited me to Madrid December 2 to plan the production. I had been getting really nervous for the time frame - there were no days to be lost. The opening was planned for December 13, then changed to December 15 and finally to December 16.

During all the process, Espacio Trapézio's team had something more important to do than my show, this they told me openly. I had constantly to beg them to do their job. It was impossible to understand the hierarchy of the organization, each of the workers wanted to pass the responsibilities to somebody else. The director of the space went on vacation during the exhibition week. I was told that the subdirector was present but she didn't even bother to say hello.

The team was incapable to send invitations to people. Two days before the opening they told me that there are so many exhibitions in Madrid, that not many people will be interested in my project. The answer was the same when I asked about informing the media - they said there's no use to do it. Finally, after asking several times they sent out some information but I still had to ask few times more to receive the invitations e-mail myself.

Espacio Trapézio framed my drawings. I was grateful for this and told that I didn't demand museum level frames - only that the drawings don't touch the glass because of the fragile impastos. They framed the works tightly between two glasses.We'll see what happend when the frames are opened.

Espacio Trapézio agreed to convert my photos in a two-channel video. This could have been done a week before the show and tested in their equipment but the video was ready 8.30pm when the opening reception had started 8pm.

For my surprise, Espacio Trapézio didn't organize the habitual dinner after the reception. I had to improvise and pay it for some curators and friends who came to the opening. Nobody of the team attended the dinner.

To add some irony, I've listened a public conference given by one of the persons of the organization telling that Espacio Trapézio is something different - respecting the artists and working with them horizontally without typical powers structures. This person was proud of the an honorarium of €300 paid to the artists. I would have preferred not to receive any cash and sleep in a hotel, now I was put in a hostel without hot water - although I don't trust now at all that I'm going to see ever that money.

Anyways, I believe that the exhibition looks good and I hope that people go to see it - but not those days that it will be closed for a food workshop for kids organized in the same space...

Kids In North Korea - Kim


19 December 2011, Cervera de los Montes

Kim Wilde sang in the 80's we're the kids in America, everybody lives for the music-go-round. Her homonym Kim Jong-il had a different song book but which possibly also sang about the decadence of the Western youth. More probably, the North Koreans just mind their own business and are not mocking all the time the Western leaders and their subjects. However, the Westerners love to laugh at small countries that have not adopted the global capitalism and a U.S. airbase.

Erkki Tuomioja, the Finnish minister for foreign affairs, said that nobody will miss Kim Jong-il. Does he really know what is best for other peoples? Doesn't that sound colonialist? Haven't he seen the photos of the North Koreans crying? The Western media says that they are brainwashed, including the immigrants weeping in China. The tears shead for Steve Jobs, a capitalist violaiting workers' rights, were real, but those for Mr. Kim are false or forced. Haven't the Westerners been brainwashed to have a blind faith to the capitalism branded as democracy? It seems that every Westerner knows that he lives in the best of all possible worlds, has the only valid values and that it is both his right and his responsibility to export them to all the people of the world.

Painkiller Fame - Syria For Dummies


14 December 2011, Cervera de los Montes

It's a strange feeling to be at home two days before an important solo show opening. Normally, the exhibition weeks begin on Sunday or Monday by going to the airport and flying to some part of Europe or even further. This time the event takes place in Madrid, 120 kilometeres form here, and the installation of Syria for Dummies at Espacio Trapécio is simple though I'm sure that it will be impressive. I'm traveling to Madrid by bus tomorrow morning.

I have exhibited in Madrid very rarely. You can't say that Riiko Sakkinen "lives and works in Spain" - I just live here, since almost ten years, and work everywhere else. I don't why the curators and galleristist in Madrid haven't found my work interesting. Maybe it's because I'm an immigrant - I'm never going to be one of them but I'm neither exotic enough.

I hope that this show in Madrid changes slightly the situation. A good sign for my Spanish success was that yesterday in Talavera de la Reina a cute pharmacist - while selling me painkillers - told she is a great fan my work. It was the best medicine for my fragile self-esteem.

A Message From Syria - New Winner


09 December 2011, Cervera de los Montes

Nisrine wrote me from Damascus:

Syria will be fine again. The situation will be better soon because we have again a stronger political position - the ambassadors of foreign countries begin to come back. Many things are changing, we are fighting the new Syrian Constitution to be totally secular. We are dialoguing everyday about this and campaigning to support the secular thinking in Syria. The youth, the lawyers, the politicians, the artists and the activist are collaborating in this. I am so excited at the moment and working hard for this change though I receive some SMS and e-mails threating me. I don't care about that because the situation in Damascus is safe. We are also working on new initiatives against the sanctions, finding ways to use local products and create new products to replace the imports. I'm very optimistic!

A Siesta At The Opera - Mini Babybel


07 December 2011, Cervera de los Montes

Yesterday we celebrated my wife's birthday in Madrid. She had asked me to take her to opera and I got us the most expensive seats (€170 each) for Shostakovic's Lady McBeth of Mtsensk at Teatro Real.

To make the day perfect, I reserved a table in Diego Guerrero's two-Michelin-starred El Club Allard and it resulted probably the best meal of our lives. We were served scallop pastry with black garlic, mini Babybel of camembert trufeé (subtle pop food), sukiyaki, truffle with foie (this was delivered to the table with an aromatic smoke effect), Tolosa bean ravioli in a cabbage infusion (the molecular bean made us cry for the pleasure of the texture and the taste), eggs with bread and panceta with potato cream sauce, tuna from Northern Spain, rabbit taco, sacher pot with ginger, fish tank (without fish), poché egg (surprising construction in a form of a chicken egg) and chocolate croquetas.

The wines we sipped were Dr.  Burklin-Worlf Ruppetsberger 2009 (My wife wanted exclusively German whites), Martin Schaetzel Gewurtztraminer Kaefferkopf 2008 (simply amazing), Olivier Gard Vielles Vignes 2008, Perez Cruz Carmenerr Reserva 2008, Falph Fowler Mount Benson Sticky 2004 (I give 100 points) and Marques de Valdueza Vendimia Tardia 2009.

I asked the coffee to be something special too and got an molecular coffee with whisky accompanied by a chocolate cigar. Then I felt in a need of just normal coffee and brandy but having been too smart, I didn't dare to order them - but as Club Allard is very close to the perfection, the staff always knew what we wanted without pronouncing a word.

Then I got curious of a big guy eating alone and asked him if he was a food critic (though the waiter told me that the critics come much more camouflaged) but he was a broker and just liked eating alone (personally I can eat alone only in McDonald's). Anyways, Juan came to our table and we had some drinks and then continued with some Cuba libres in a bar around the corner. The staff seemed to be surprised that people were making friends in the fine dine temple just like in a biergarten.

We made it toTeatro Real two minutes before the show time and when the lights went down, I fell asleep and woke up with the final applause. The superb meal was followed by an über expensive siesta.

The Riiko Sakkinen Library - Adrei Roiter


05 December 2011, Cervera de los Montes

I had a meeting with Javier and Carlos at Espacio Trapecio to set up the details of my show Syria for Dummies which opens December 15th. I enjoy my rare visits to Madrid and try to take some time to go to see exhibitions and buy books. Now I got Zena El Khalil's Beirut, I Love You, Yiyun Li's A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, Chan Koonchung's Fat Years, Wang Shuo's Please Don't Call Me Human and Sun Tzu's classic The Art of War.

The more they tell about the death of printed books, the more I buy them. I want to have a good library when real books (collection of sheets of paper bound together to hinge at one edge) disappear from the market. I don't trust in e-books, which are too easy to censor. I don't want Minitrue's Winston Smith to do on-line historical revisionism and rewrite my library. I'm going to be Luo of Dai Sijie's Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress hiding novels at a reeducation through labour camp.

Andrei Roiter was showing at Galeria Fucares some works using books and I got an idea of creating a totally new body of work: The Riiko Sakkinen Library consisting of sinister fictional books you could find in my studio. Luis promised to give me some old Bibles to paint over.

My Favorite Work Of Art - Tiepolo


01 December 2011, Cervera de los Montes

A friend asked me what is my favorite work of art. First I was thinking about pieces of my idols like Martin Kippenberger or Pablo Picasso but then I realized that the most amazing work of all the times is the Trojan Horse.

After a fruitless 10-year siege of the city of Troy, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse scuplture, and hid special operation forces inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek commandos crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy.

I want my works to be Trojan Horses that will be taken to every bank and corporation and then destroy the capitalism during the darkness.