Pentti Saarikoski, “New Clichés”

sirkus tahti

Uusia klisheitä

ja me ollaan tilapäisiä täällä,
ajat ajatukset ja taivas teltta,
mutta on suunta johon me elämme ikuisesti,

jokainen ilta
laihat hartiat
ja jokaiset kasvot kuin kasvot jotka on otettu pois,
takaapäin nähty
jokainen ilta kuin sirkus näytöksen jälkeen,
laihat hartiat taivasta vasten
kun aika ja teltta on otettu pois,
punaiset vaunut, portailla aurinko
nuorallatanssija, koko maailma
häkeissä kuin silmissä jotka katsovat kaukaa

New Clichés

we are temporary here,
times thoughts and the blue yonder a big top,
but there is a direction where we live forever,

every night
scrawny shoulders
and every face like a face taken off,
seen from behind
every night like a circus after the show,
scrawny shoulders against the sky
when time and tent are taken away,
red streetcars, sun on the stairs
a tightrope walker, the whole world
in cages as in eyes gazing from a ways away

1961

Source: Pentti Saarikoski, Runot (Otava, 2004), p. 98. Translation and photo by Living in FIN

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A musical rendition of “New Clichés” by well-known Finnish singer-songwriter Liisa Akimof

Eeva Kilpi, “Sweating as I Drink My Tea on a Hot Morning”

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Hikoillen juon teetäni hellepäivän aamuna
nauttien joka pisarasta.
Löyhähdän olemassaoloani tähän maisemaan.
Hyttyset ja paarmat rakastavat minua,
juovat mahansa killalleen,
hoippuroivat humalaisina verestäni.
Ja kun “Metsäkukkia” soi
tanssii sieluni harjulta harjulle,
pyörii kuusien päissä,
liitää pitkin lammen pintaa korennon selässä.
Mutta aina se hupsu palaa
tähän ruumiiseen.
Mikä kuolevaisuudessa viehättää?

::::::::::::::::

Sweating as I drink my tea on a hot morning,
savoring every drop.
My existence wafts into the landscape.
The mosquitoes and horseflies love me.
They drink their bellies to bursting.
Drunk on my blood, they stagger.
And when “Forest Flowers” plays,
my soul dances from one ridge to the next,
twirling on the tiptops of spruces,
soaring along a pond’s surface on a mayfly’s back.
But the silly one always returns
to this body.
What is mortality’s charm?

—Eeva Kilpi, Terveisin (WSOY, 1976), p. 18. Photo and translation by Living in FIN

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Olavi Virta’s 1952 recording of “Metsäkukkia” (“Forest Flowers”)

 

Wave of Mutilation

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People will wander where they will.

This is a snapshot of what bicyclists, pedestrians, and, sometimes, mopedists, do almost every livelong day to the flimsy piece of twine, draped with tiny flags, hung by the members of our co-op’s management board to prevent them from making this shortcut.

Why are the cyclists, peds, and mopeds so hellbent on taking this shortcut?

Because, a few years ago, the city government of Imatra, South Karelia, perhaps the wisest municipal government on Planet Earth, royally messed with the perfectly serviceable and intuitively natural network of footpaths and bike trails in our neighborhood to accommodate a new neighbor, a giant Prisma hypermarket, built exclusively for Russian shopping tourists, who at one point some years ago were surging through Suomi’s southern borders in droves, but since Putin decided to rule the world and tank his country’s economy in the process, have been reduced to a trickle.

In the wake of the hypermarket’s nearly sacred advent in our lives, we residents of Linnala, the Imatra micro-district that had this alien happiness shoved down its throat without much say-so, got all our streets, sidewalks, intersections, parking lots, footpaths, and bike trails “improved.”

In practice, this means they were turned into an impossible pile of spaghetti, in which you continually have to cross streets, car lanes, parking lots, and roundabouts (all of them newly installed at taxpayer’s expense), usually in a counterintuitive zigzag pattern, to go where you used to go much faster and without all the hassle.

This is the level of urban planning in South Karelia. If you don’t believe me, take a trip to the region’s unofficial capital, Lappeenranta, where they have also been rolling out a wave of mutilation to satisfy the itches and urges of Finnish architectural design and construction companies with names like Lemminkäinen, who have also long been in the business of transforming Russia’s second capital, Petersburg, with impossibly large and ugly residential blocks.

Because that is the bottom line: making a fast buck whatever it does to lives that people were perfectly happy with without ever saying so. When you mess with their lives in this way, blazing their old daily trails back onto the mostly invisible maps of their neighborhoods is their way of saying they were happy with the way things were. LIF

Photo by Living in FIN

Krimifest (11-12 August 2017, Imatra)

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KRIMIFEST
11–12 August 2017

In the second weekend of August, Krimi will celebrate the houses’ last summer as a festival touchstone with an extravagant garden party. Let’s do it one more time, sisters and brothers!

The festivities officially kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 11, with the opening of a show by painter Santtu Määttänen. The audience will be entertained after the opening by musical mastermind Joose Keskitalo.

On Saturday, partygoers can arrive at Krimi early in the day and spend quality relaxation time with the whole family if they like. The music again blasts off at nightfall, supplied by Joutseno-based power duo Suominen & Härkönen, multimedia Guggenheim Projektz, and Australian-born Kitto, a great singer-songwriter who now hails from Sweden.

In addition to music, on Friday and Saturday, Krimi will have a really special program featuring performances, caricature drawing, and a holographic piece by the Power Builders art group. Partygoers are also free to express themselves and bring games, musical instruments, etc.  The party will be conceived and celebrated together.

A detailed schedule for the weekend will be available shortly, and other changes to the program are also possible. While admission to the event is officially free, we hope that participants support our work by donating money as they see fit.

General Info

The party is organized by the Krimi Art Center in cooperation with the Krimi Houses, located at Koulukatu 1A in Imatra. Except for Friday’s art show opening, the entire program will take place outside. With an eye to the fickle weather, it would be worth your while to bring warm, waterproof clothes just in case. You should also bring something or other for sitting on in the yard. In addition, the sauna will be warmed up on Saturday. Bring your own towel along if you want to have a bath.

There are plenty of shops and other services nearby. The nearest campground is around three hundred meters away, in Varpasaari Fishing Park. People traveling long distances may also ask to stay the night at Krimi.

If you have specific questions, you can contact us by email at taidekeskuskrimi@gmail.com.

Krimi Art Center
Koulukatu 1A
55100 Imatra
www.taidekeskuskrimi.com

Translated by Living in FIN

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* * * * *

The Krimi Art Center, a home and haven for Imatra’s current art students and recent art school grads, celebrates its last summer in existence with a festival on August 11 and 12, 2017.

Why has the city decided to demolish the two modest wooden buildings that make up Krimi?

I’ve already forgotten the “official” reason the houses have to go (the dreaded “toxic fungus” that lumbers round this fair land like the plague during the Middle Ages? austerity for students at the hands of the current bourgeois government?), but I have no doubt they are at odds with the city’s current development plan, which involves

    • demolishing as much built heritage as possible, even officially listed built heritage;
    • holding as many loud, vulgar public mega events as possible, such as the recent “concerts in the park” that ripped up huge swathes of the parkland situated cheek by jowl with the complex housing the city’s library, concert hall, museums, and city hall, while sonically terrorizing the mostly elderly residents of the nearby Mansikkala neighborhood for several nights in a row, and the latest iteration of the Imatra International Road Racing Championship, an event that should have been left buried in the 1960s, when it crashed and burned, but has been unwisely dusted off by the local powers that be and made an annual fixture just as worldwide climate warming kicks into high gear, as if sending huge clouds of smoke into the atmosphere is now cooler than it was back in the swinging sixties;
    • building as many big box stores for the now-mostly nonexistent “flood” of Russian shopping tourists and building most of the stores in the same neighborhood, Mansikkala, thereby making life nearly intolerable for residents of the city’s most populous district, most of whom are old-age pensioners who built the place and, when they were still working, actually made real things in the city’s once-mighty factories;
    • building something useless or expensive or both in the so-called Imatra Free Time Center (Imatran Vaipaa-Aika Keskus), which was once a wooded paradise on earth, featuring a pine tree-shaded swimming beach so pretty and picturesque it made you want to cry. Nowadays, however, the Imatra Free Time Center is chockablock with vacation cottages, a revamped beach in which most of those shade trees have been axed, a biathlon center (soon to be useless in a warmed-up climate hardly capable of producing large quantities of snow), a new Finnish baseball stadium, an indoor sports field, sheltered by an inflatable dome, a new camping ground (moved there to make room for the vacation cottages), and a new fish restaurant, erected right on the shoreline of Lake Saimaa. Hilariously, the fish restaurant was blueprinted and built by the city and its allies in the construction sector even though it had no one lined up to lease and operate it after plans for it were mooted and officially approved and, now, at least a year after it has been built down to the last doorknob, the mythical fish restaurateur is still waiting in the shadows, too bashful to emerge and take over the eatery custom built for him or her. Construction of the fish restaurant (which, were I a bad, lawless person, I would suggest the soon-to-be-homeless art students and young artists from Krimi should squat, because it’s not serving any other purpose at the moment) necessitated the clear-cutting of so many trees and the pouring of so much asphalt that it changed beyond all recognition the particular tract of now-vanished shady forest on the shores of Lake Saimaa where it was plopped down to no apparent purpose. Basically, it turned that part of the Imatra Free Time Area into a “human-friendly” desert of the kind that puts Russian shopping tourists at ease, or so the local Finnish developers imagined. It never occurs to the local Finnish developers and city planners they could be wrong about anything, least of all about Russians, about whom they pretend to know everything, but about whom they know almost nothing, which would be ironic if were not so funny and sad at the same time;
    • attacking and annihilating nearly defenseless cultural and artistic endeavors like the Krimi Houses, the now-defunct Taiderastit one-day art crawls, the International Semiotics Institute and its renowned summer seminars, and other things that had made the town attractive to a different crowd of tourist, as well as to local residents who don’t celebrate soul-, eardrum-, and earth–destroying noise and smoke as “culture.” Needless to say, none of these events cost the city or the federal government much money at all, but they were easy targets for hard-minded city councilors, MPs, and deputy ministers wanting to produce results when it came to the most sacred thing in Finnish governance: “savings” (säästöjä)
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Ukonlinna Beach, Imatra, South Karelia, 31 July 2012. Photo by Living in FIN

This is how the city of Imatra, South Karelia, Finland, imagines and actually implements its own future: by getting rid of lots of things and people that, in real and cultural terms, are defenseless, good value for the money, and anything but in-your-face aggressive and environmentally destructive, whether we are talking about trees and beautiful shorelines or mild-mannered art students running an art gallery in their own digs or foreign semioticians. The city replaces them with what is good in the very short term for the demolition, construction, and lowbrow tourism and shopping sectors.

And you thought Finland was different. How wrong you were. LIF

Ultra Bra, “Ken Saro-Wiwa Is Dead”

Ultra Bra. Photo courtesy of 375 Humanists

I’ve always found the wildly popular 1990s Finnish group Ultra Bra slightly baffling albeit intensely interesting.

Only Ultra Bra were capable of packaging trenchant, politically progressive lyrics in musical and vocal arrangements that wouldn’t be out of place on the TV series Glee.

Here’s a great example, “Ken Saro-Wiwa Is Dead,” a wildly upbeat song about a horrible miscarriage of justice.

The lyrics are partly based on the text of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s final statement in court, which, apparently, was never heard by the judges who sentenced him to death.

***

Ken Saro-Wiwa Is Dead

Lord,
I’m a man of peace, of ideas
And I am angered
By the devastation
Of my people’s land
The oil is burning
Just this he once said to them
Ken Saro-Wiwa

Lord,
The man who dared open his mouth thus
Let him finally leave
For such speeches
The electric chair
Or the guillotine
He cannot live after this
Ken Saro-Wiwa

We all stand before history
I and my colleagues are not the only ones on trial
Shell is here on trial as well
And crimes are punished according to merit
And a crime is punished

Lord,
The man who dared open his mouth thus
Let him finally leave
For such speeches
The electric chair
Or the guillotine
He cannot live after this
Ken Saro-Wiwa
Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa
Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa

***

Herra tuomari
olen rauhan ja aatteen mies
ja olen vihainen
tuhoamisesta
kansani maan
öljy palaa
vain tämän heille sanoi kerran
Ken Saro-Wiwa

Herra tuomari
kuinka uskalsi avata suunsa tuo mies
korjatkoon luunsa
tuollaisista puheista
sähkötuoli
tai giljotiini
tämän jälkeen ei saa elää
Ken Saro-Wiwa

Me olemme täällä kaikki historian tuomittavina
minä ja kollegani emme ole ainoita syytettyjä
myös Shell on täällä tuomiolla
ja tehdyt rikokset rangaistaan ansionsa mukaan
ja tehty rikos ansionsa mukaan

Herra tuomari
kuinka uskalsi avata suunsa tuo mies
korjatkoon luunsa
tuollaisista puheista
sähkötuoli
tai giljotiini
tämän jälkeen ei saa elää
Ken Saro-Wiwa

Ken Saro-Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa
Ken Saro Wiwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa

—Ultra Bra, “Ken Saro-Wiwa on kuollut” (Vapaaherran elämää LP, 1996); source: letssingit.com