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Repetition, Repetition, Repetition…

During the residency we wanted to investigate continuous movement – its sense and senselessness.
This theme can be seen in the chosen elements and the act of creating the art works, as well as in a more conceptual/spiritual way; as an exploration of an unknown culture – the Buddhist way of viewing life as a continuous circle and the principles of meditation. As Repetition has an important role in meditation, we decided to take this feature as a starting point for our project.

We explored this theme by working on two separate works; a site-specific installation / environmental artwork where the focus was on the continuous movement of a sculptural form, and with a performative piece situated in the local surroundings and in which the mental process was emphasized. In both cases, we chose to work in a meditative way, keeping in mind the Buddhist way of thinking and focus on the process and ephemerality of the work instead of on the final product.

#1 Growth (Kasvu) – Practice to acknowledge the potential of growth in all situations
#2 In a/the Moment (Hetkessä) – Practice to live in the moment
#3 Life (Elämä) – Practice to understand the notion of life as a continuous circle
#4 Materia (Materia) – Practice to understand the unimportance of material wealth
#5 Body (Keho) – Practice to acknowledge the temporary nature of the body[/wpcol_1half_end]

Experience at ComPeung

In the residency we wanted to explore continuous movement and repetition in art with a meditative attitude. These elements came from our interest in meditation and Buddhism. For a while we didn’t have a clear plan how we would implement this “investigation”. We wanted  to focus on the process and ephemerality of the work instead of on the final product.

After a while and several talks we ended up working with two separate works; a site-specific installation / environmental artwork where the focus was on the continuous movement of a sculptural form, and with a more performative piece where we used repetition in writing. Both of these working methods are quite new for us as well as working intensively together from the beginning of the process in same the place.
It’s always easier to see the things that were difficult than the things that were easy. I will here mostly concentrate on things that I learned from but these issues aren’t negative, at least for me.

We have worked together in Elin&Keino for a while but very separately and as individual artists we have very different ways in processing art work. In my point of view this was our main challenge, how to meet each other in the middle.
For years I have tried to leave behind some ”bad habits” that I have learned from school – over analyzing things while working. I’m quite often aware of what I do and why, but I feel like I need to give space and possibilities for changes, transformation, experimenting along the process in the form as in content. This may seem a pointless wandering but I think sometimes you can find something more when you look for.

By questioning my own opinions and habits and trying to work in an other way was sometimes much easier and got me closer to our goal – the meditative way of working. When I knew how or what exactly I should do, there was no space for experimenting-  for sideways, no reason to think which for few moments cleared my mind. But in an other way it also lead me to think about the final shape- a product. I understand that we can’t shift years of our western patterns and cultural behaviour into a eastern inner calmness by working for some hours in the field of art with a meditative starting point. But what I find important is that I realised that this way of working can reveal something that I can’t grasp in an other way – and I have no words for what this something is. I guess it has quite a lot to do with tacit knowledge that can’t be explained by words…?

But it’s obvious to me now that if you want to work with this meditative method you need to be very committed or the repetition is just a repetition or not even that and a continuous movement is not continuous and meditative way of working is turning into pursuing a visual goal. Does this lack of meditative feature make the concrete art work unsuccessful? I have no answer to that. But at least as an experiment it was successful.

It’s easier to see things more accurate, your routines and behavior patterns when you are away from home. Of course we tried to change this point of view deliberately but at least I found much more that I expected. The most important ”lessons” from the residency didn’t come from the actual work process but from the whole experience – the people, the way of living and thinking, the surroundings and last but not least from dogs. RedX is my idol, I learned a lot from him as funny as it sounds. It’s difficult to separate between ”the artist and the person thing” that I have learned and realised. But as I wrote already in the little ComPeung book the most irritating and most important thing I found out is that I have to take more risks and be more brave.

ComPeung was a great residency, much more than I expected. The friendly atmosphere, great food, beautiful surroundings, interesting talks ect. provided finally a possibility to stop for a while, to concentrate and to be influenced. It’s has given us time and space to think, talk and try without feeling pressure from the outside (I can create that myself very well). Being back in Finland feels very hectic and I’m sure we would have never been able to explore these themes here. We have planned to continue this investigation and/or to reshape it and to fit it into a new context. We also got some new ideas there that aren’t really connected to the theme we were working on but which were initiated by our experiences at ComPeung. I’m excited to work with these ones as well. So thanks again for making these chances and experiences possible!

Just to make it more clear after this messy artistic self evaluation here’s something more understandable. In these rules of John Cage defines quite clearly what I came to appreciate during the residency.

Rule 7. The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something.
Rule 8. Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.
Rule 10. We are breaking all the rules, even our own rules, and how we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X qualities.

Heini Nieminen
January 2012