Bushwick-based artist and musician

Eric Trosko

, a Bushwick Daily’s Tuesday Person eventually gets impressed by performance art at festival Paikkari Performance in Sammatti, Finland, he had visited this in July 2011.

Text and Photos by Eric Trosko

It all starts with a duck, and as I am told a small duck at that. Some insist that it was an eagle, but I doubt that. Would an eagle dive to the bottom of the watery nothingness that existed before anything, and pluck up a bit of mud in its bill to create an island that would become the nesting ground for the egg that would break open, and create the cosmos: the bottom half becoming earth and the other sky?

Eagles- Fuck all y’all, this clearly is duck territory!

So begins the world according to the Kalevala, the sacred text of the oral traditions of the Finish Lapland shaman.  The Kalevala was compiled by philologist, Elias Lönnrot (1802-1884), who was born and spent his childhood in a small cottage called Paikkari, built on the grounds in Sammatti, Finland that served this summer as the site of the festival of Performance Art. The Festival was a few hours drive from Helsinki into the beautiful countryside, where at night in late July, the stars shine, and the sky becomes the deepest shade of blue, but still the sunset never ends…

I have rarely considered performance art to be more than an amusing diversion, but this event with it’s gorgeous natural setting and the artists’ rich and diverse reinterpretations of tradition, made me think of performance, with it’s insistence on its own transience as of a continuation of something ancient and mythic, when magic and rituals sought to exercise change in a world where normal actions often fell short.

The day of diverse performances began with tradition: a shaman recited ancient words for the benefit of us all, in a language that is no longer spoken, the sounds that make the thing, a place where the signified speaks it’s own sign.  From then on it was a free range of media and ideas.  The works often made use of humor. Then laughter would often turn to contemplation of poetic melancholy. It was evident that the artists were set on injecting contemporary relevance into their inspiration from the Kalevala.

What really amazed me about the Paikkari Performance, was the crowd. New York has made me accustomed to “performance art” events where the audience is composed mostly of participants. Here the audience was full of children and families. From my brief stay there I gained the impression that I had never been in a society who has so integrated the ideas of the historical avant-garde…

I think that all artists should visit Finland. Even if it is only to consider if this is a world they would want.