Handwriting has Died (part 3: Fire: The Philosopher’s Table)

The third part of my exhibition Handwriting has Died at Gallery Sculptor, Helsinki (2–25.10.2020) is called Fire. The works belonging to this part were all displayed in a single room. One of them is the Philosopher’s Table with surrounding chairs made of wood and concrete. The table is designed as a “free” art object, but also to be a possible part of the interior in the, still unbuilt, Spruce-house, a postdoc project at the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, by me and architect Erkki Pitkäranta, as a continuation of the Life on a Leaf house in Turku. The new house will be built 30 meters from the Life on a Leaf house.

During the summer of 2020, I made a 1:1 model of the hexagonal Spruce house in the garden of the Life on a Leaf house as a collaboration with nature, by letting the grass grow in the same shape as the walls of the coming house. The table and the benches were designed and painted in this real milieu, as well as the swing and shelf supporting the TV monitor, which formed the physical part of the installation Mouse.Green in the exhibition, which means that they also might become a part of the new house.

In this way, I could avoid producing more physical objects to store for possible coming exhibitions. My storage space is already filled with parts of old installations made during 40 years.

The Philosopher’s Table has a surface, which is a digital drawing/collage printed and covered with acrylate. In a symbolic way, it depicts the situation of the world “burning “, along with the old knowledge system, based on reading books, handwriting, and ornamentation. Old temples and buildings are still standing in a whirl of flames, where upside-down versions of the mountain Ararat are in danger of melting. Towards the centre of the table I have used a part of the Finnish painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s painting Lemminkäinen’s Mother, showing the river of Tuonela, which you have to cross to get to the realm of the dead, according to the Finnish mythology. I placed recently taken photographs of distant galaxies in the black river. A smaller table is placed 15 cm above the center of the main table’s surface. On that is a picture of galaxies with branches of a Spruce tree surrounding it. This small table can be rotated by people sitting by the table, turning a large red wooden circle under the table with their feet.

The Philosopher’s table’s benches should of course be uncomfortable to sit on so that the “real” world would not be forgotten. Three of them are cast in concrete in the earth, leaving a rough surface. The other three have a wooden surface, which I roughened with a chain saw.

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 10.40 The Philosopher’s Table and related works are discussed.