YEAR OF THE SNAKE SWINGING
On February 10 (Chinese New Year), I fastened a small blue swing into an aspen that grows on the western shore of Harakka Island, next to the remains of the stone base of an old sauna. More or less once a week, I videoed myself swinging while wearing a light blue scarf, keeping the position of the camera on a tripod and the framing of the image as constant as possible. I also sat next to the stub of another aspen that once grew nearby—it used to be possible to fasten a hammock between them—looking out to sea with my back to the camera. In another image I sat on a pile of rocks looking at the expanding Helsinki harbour on the opposite shore. Thus I tried to produce ‘souvenirs’ of what the landscape looked like during this year on the northern shore of the Baltic Sea.
“Year of the Snake Swinging” is the last part in a series of twelve one-year projects performed for the camera on the same island, exploring the question of how to perform landscape today. The series, which I began in 2002, is based on the Chinese calendar and its cycle of twelve years, with each year named after a specific animal. This way of working is based on the traditions of performance art, video art and environmental art, moving in the borderland between them. Each year I have chosen a new perspective on the landscape, a new aspect of the environment and a new kind of relationship between my body and the place. This year I focused on the movement of a small swing, a man-made element added to the landscape. I also travelled with the swing and tied it to trees growing on various shores. More importantly, I experimented with sharing the experience of swinging and changing the performer in the image by inviting colleagues from the island as well as temporary visitors to swing for a while. These performances I documented on video and in a tri-lingual blog (see the website on the facing page), adding to each post a still image from each performance, either of the visitor or of myself. I chose an activity like swinging in order to end the series, with its focus on showing the passing of time, on a more lighthearted note.