Handwriting has Died (part 3: Fire: The Unanswered Question. America)


The Unanswered Question. America. 175 x 400 cm, 2020. Fotosec pigment print.

Some years ago, I traveled through the USA and experienced the smoke from large forest fires now haunting large parts of the country. The pictures of the fires were terrible to look at but also visually fascinating. It is not possible to hide anymore, we are all affected, even people with big villas and swimming pools.

My relationship with the USA has always been filled with both admiration and fear. In this digital drawing/collage, I have contrasted Los Angeles swimming pools found on the Internet to a mountain filled with fires. All the fires are drawn with a digital pencil. Each of the four panels has persons important to me, who have a connection to the USA; Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison are symbols for the rock- and pop scene, which in many ways saved my life in the 1960:ties. Georgia O’Keeffe is a painter of nature, who escaped the hectic art life to her retreat in New Mexico, also a place of great beauty. Charles Ives is an American experimental composer from the early 20th century, who made the extraordinary composition The Unanswered Question, which I used to name this work. On the last panel, Arnold Schoenberg stands by the pool painted by David Hockney. Schoenberg escaped the Nazis to the USA in the 1930ties.


This is a documentary video. Parallel with the visual output mainly filmed at the gallery, PhD Marja-Terttu Kvirinta, art historian and critic, discusses the works with me for the audio part. To reach people outside Finland, we decided to make it in English.
The discussion starts with the personal importance of Handwriting as a mental escape place for a stuttering young boy, but also pointing out its connection to experiencing beauty. It ends with the discussion touching on a variety of themes, from modernist design and the nature of the green colour to the fires in the USA and the planning of the new Spruce-house. For Kivirinta a key element in the exhibition folds around the experience of “having the past present, not only today but also tomorrow”. The video is 32 minutes long.
At 13.25 The Unanswered Question and related works are discussed.