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Temporary public work of art brings remnants of a made-up past to Kalasatama

10.6.2020 8:43

Raimo Saarinen: Made-up past, 2020 / Photo: HAM / Sonja Hyytiäinen

A new temporary public work of art has been completed in Helsinki’s Kalasatama. Entitled Made-up past and displayed at Englantilaisaukio square, the new work by artist Raimo Saarinen consists of sculpture-like ruins taken over by vegetation. The seemingly time-worn structures are made of plastered and painted lightweight concrete blocks. The work combines modern building materials with the passage of time.

The work features a number of plant species from different continents. One of the ruins features grasses from dry habitats, while others are overgrown with wetland horsetails and irises. Similar to Raimo Saarinen’s previous works, Made-up past combines plant species from near and far. The range of features species, which, according to Saarinen, were “instinctively and intuitively” selected, includes gray willow, a South American tree species called monkey puzzle, and staghorn sumac, which hails from the northeastern parts of North America. The plants live and change in accordance with the growth season, adding the temporal dimensions of growth, bloom and wilting to the work. In this way, it is not only the architecture, but also the vegetation of the work that experiences the present, the future and the past.

According to Saarinen, the form and bright colours of the work were inspired by Mexico, where Saarinen was setting up an exhibition when he started planning Made-up past. While exploring the area and cultural history of Kalasatama, Saarinen encountered the same colour palette in the bright, peeling paint jobs of boats. “I am fascinated by how visual solutions in an urban environment can be the result of small coincidences. The colour palette of a given area’s architecture can be the result of an individual decision, and then people just keep using the same colour palette, all the way to making it tradition and part of the culture.”

Kalasatama, which is now being developed, will be welcoming plenty of new public art works in the coming years. Made-up past is the third temporary work of art created as a result of a collaboration between the City Executive Office, the Urban Environment Division and HAM Helsinki Art Museum. Previous temporary works of art displayed in Kalasatama are Light Signal from the Shore (2019) by Tatu Tuominen and Flamigos (2019) by Pasi Rauhala, the latter of which is still on display. Permanent works of art on display in Kalasatama are Early One Morning, Eternity Sculpture (2019) by Jacob Dahlgren, Compass and Stars (2018) by Riikka Puronen, Siberian Jay (2016) by Villu Jaanisoo and Line Drawn on Water (2014) by Timo Heino. In addition to works from the HAM collection, the area is also home to Taidepenkit (2019) by Marjukka Korhonen. The works are part of the Kalasatama environmental art project, which facilitates the realisation of temporary and permanent art works as well as events. The environmental art project is funded by a floor square metre-based fee charged to contractors in the area.

Artist Raimo Saarinen / Photo: HAM / Sonja Hyytiäinen