Bluffing beauty

Drizzle, sprinkle, mizzle
Cheesecake, apple pie and a whistle
White tea in the orange tea cup
A daffodil, a daisy and a dream
One is not enough if not a bluffing beauty
But an illusion dying in the sea of green.

Posted in Poetry | 2 Comments

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Minty-Fresh™.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2010. That’s about 12 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 8 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 85 posts. There were 6 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 2mb.

The busiest day of the year was May 11th with 40 views. The most popular post that day was Philosophy .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, search.aol.com, stumbleupon.com, bigextracash.com, and en.search.wordpress.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for thomas edison, caj bremer, electric cars, thomas edison pictures, and electric car.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Philosophy April 2010

2

Love is . . . June 2009
2 comments

3

The art and tradition of swordsmanship October 2009

4

Caj Bremer’s sharp eye on view in new retrospective April 2010

5

Painting Finland through Irish eyes August 2009

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Do you really, REALLY want to live in Finland?

Susan Fourtané lives in Helsinki, where she combines freelance journalism and writing with Philosophy studies, teaching, her passion for the arts and the closeness to nature.

AFTER living for many years in several countries, I came to Finland on vacation as I had been told wonderful stories about the land of wondrous nature and four beautiful seasons. It was September 2005 and I was living in Prague.

It was at this point that I had the feeling I had been yearning so long for, a warm, tingly feeling difficult to describe. After ten days, with that growing feeling I returned to Prague and made arrangements to move to Finland. A dream come true and a year later I moved.

The three main reasons for foreigners to move to Finland are: a Finnish girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse, Nokia or the University of Helsinki. I had none of them. Those being apparently the right reasons the government considers valid for extending the residence permit too. Trying by all means to follow my dream, I spent the three months my non-EU citizen tourist visa gave me trying to find a job and making connections. The circle was always the same, when applying for a job they asked me for a residence permit and for the residence permit I needed a job offer. It was Catch-22. How to deal with this? I only had my determination, the certainty that Finland was my true home, and the knowledge that I was going to fight to remain here.

At the end of November 2006, with the expiration of my tourist visa I was forced not only to leave Finland but the EU for 90 days. I went to Tallinn, Estonia, where I spent three months until I was allowed to come back. It was a time for reflection and introspection.

Back in Finland with another three months ahead of me on a new tourist visa, I got a job offer from a company led by two wonderful people who became my first family in Helsinki. I applied for my first residence permit and after a long wait I finally got the stamp on my passport in September 2007.

Nowadays, EU citizens don’t need to apply for permits anymore and can immediately work if they have a job offer. Things are different and very difficult for any non-EU citizen. The permit is valid for a year after which a new application costing another 200 euros is needed. For my second and third permits I applied as a freelancer, which required proof of a certain level of income, a clean criminal record, a detailed list of activities and long waits at the Foreign Police Office.

Almost four years have passed. Despite the difficulties, Finland is my home, the place where my ashes will merge with the Finnish nature. It is where I can breathe and feel the energy emanating from the forest and strength from the deep sea invading my body, filling my soul with the sweet knowledge of having found my place in the world.

Sometimes when people ask me where I come from I simply say, it’s not important where I was born as I never felt that to be my homeland. I am a citizen of the world with a Finnish heart and that is all that matters.

Is anything impossible if we truly want something in our heart?

To see the beauty of Finland you have to open your heart and feel the warmth in the cold, dark winters. You need to feel love coming from the land of your dreams.

If you can feel it in your heart, then you really, REALLY want to live in Finland.

First published in the Helsinki Times on June 24th, 2010. http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/htimes/expat-view/11605-do-you-really-really-want-to-live-in-finland.html

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Self-consumption

MODERN SOCIETY seems to be driven by the massive consumption of goods, for all of its consequent impact in ecology. In an attempt to keep up with our peers we desperately want a new pair of shoes, the new mobile device on the market or that cool touch-screen tablet. The crucial question is: do we really need them? Or is it more a question of personal satisfaction to keep up appearances?

Timo Wright’s giant photographic collage was inspired by the book Once Were Consumers: Four Tales From 2023 by Roope Mokka and Aleksi Neuvonen. Wright found out that an average Finnish family owns an estimated 10,000 objects, whereas a student possesses about 3,500. His work, Self-Portrait, illustrates how easily we can become pack rats and presents the question: what do the things I own say about me? Wright’s collection of his own personal “needed” and “non-needed” possessions are all on display in the form of 3,328 documented photographs that cover the exhibition’s walls.

In a journey to discover what kind of consumer he is, visitors to the exhibition will no doubt see their own possessions in a new light when they return home.

For Wright, paradoxically, the most interesting fact happening recently was the volcano eruption in Iceland. “People realised it is possible to use alternative means of transport when flying is not an option.” Buying gives pleasure, which lasts a blink of an eye. Recycling can be as expensive as buying, and not always possible. What is the price we are paying for being greedy? Wright attempts to make the viewers more conscious about the objects they own and to assess the real need of them.

Self-Portrait
Until 9 May
Taidehalli Studio
Helsinki
http://www.taidehalli.fi

SUSAN FOURTANÉ – HT
TIMO WRIGHT – Image

First published in the Helsinki Times on May 6th, 2010. http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/htimes/culture/10959-self-consumption.html

Posted in Exhibitions, Helsinki Times, Photography, Published Articles | 1 Comment

Rainy days and Mondays

IT IS MONDAY. The shower room is the secret space where one’s deepest thoughts come without censor or witnesses. Water magically showers away our true feelings about how past choices have shaped our present lives. Is this how we really wanted our lives to be?

The duality of Monday is, for some, the beginning of the unbearable reality of the responsibilities at work or in the family that invariably hits every seven days. For others, it is the fresh and uplifting bright start of another week full of possibilities, new challenges and expectations.

Photographer Päivi Kos-
kinen illustrates some of those feelings through the metaphor of showering away fear, uncertainty and frustration from the day. Taking risks, social pressure, making decisions about career and family life are some of the human conflicts Koskinen explores and presents to the viewer for evaluation. The project was born in Spain and continued in Finland through interviews and photo sessions.

Our reality, more than being directly chosen, sometimes seems to have been silently selected for us by society with the promise of happiness. “I am interested in the real context. I have looked for people to portray who have identified themselves with the project, helping me at the same time on my own personal identification,” Koskinen explains. Through this introspection, she tries to make people reflect on the realities and experiences currently shaping their lives. Would the wife with three kids like to fulfil her dream of being an independent professional? Would the successful photographer like to have a family instead of her career?

Sometimes we make ourselves too busy to stop and think about our daily routine. If we are not completely satisfied, do we dare to change the direction of our lives to pursue our dreams – instead of washing them away?

Monday
Until 30 May
Korjaamo Gallery
Streetcar Hall
http://www.korjaamo.fi

SUSAN FOURTANÉ – HT
PÄIVI KOSKINEN – Image

First published in the Helsinki Times on May 6th, 2010.

http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/htimes/culture/10963-rainy-days-and-mondays-.html

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Caj Bremer’s sharp eye on view in new retrospective

Conferment dance on Mannerheimintie, Helsinki, 1960.

CAJ BREMER is one of the biggest names in post-war Finnish photojournalism. His black and white photo reportages have afforded him a storytelling role as a photographer.

The Ateneum is featuring a collection of more than 150 of his photographs, the oldest dating back to the early 1950s, the latest being from last year. The exhibition includes journalistic and family photographs as well as studies of light and nature. Through these themes, the show also traces the development of Finnish society and media over the last 50 years.

In an era when television was taking only its first steps as a source of daily news, Bremer was attracted by the tradition of humanistic photography, which emphasises an interest in people and their immediate surroundings. Humanistic photography respects its subjects and often has a lyrical beauty despite the powerful presence of everyday realities.

Bremer has a precise and insightful eye. He has an unfailing ability to control the light and composition in rapidly changing conditions, being able to extract the essential into a seemingly simple image often characterised by a subtle sense of humour. One of Bremer’s strengths is his flair for capturing joy and good-natured smiles in his images.

Bremer’s exceptional social skills and curiosity have taken him to exploring dark alleys on the outskirts of town or to attend official functions with the political elite. The public figures in his photographs appear to be as approachable as ordinary people on any sunny Sunday afternoon.

Anyone interested in seeing the development of post-war Finland will be delighted to
experience the journey through Bremer’s photographs.

Photographer Caj Bremer
Until 16 May, 2010
Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki
Tickets €9/7
www.ateneum.fi

SUSAN FOURTANÉ – HT
CAJ BREMER – Image
Published in the Helsinki Times on February 25th, 2010.

Posted in 5584, Exhibitions, Helsinki Times, Published Articles | Leave a comment

Blending in with the scenery

Artist Hilda Kozári and French perfume designer Bertrand Duchaufour collaborated to create AIR, Smell of Helsinki, Budapest and Paris.

MORE than viewing art, It’s a Set Up is an invitation to a sensorial, active experience that gets viewers involved with the artworks. Jacob Dahlgren’s work The Wonderful World of Abstraction plays with the idea of making the visitor wonder if it is possible to become lost in an artwork.

“The viewer is able to feel the work’s gentle touch and dive into the embrace of the work, becoming part of it,” says chief curator Pirkko Siitari.

The powerful sense of smell is able to bring memories right to our present. Smells can make us travel without moving. Can we tell what the city of Helsinki smells like? Artist Hilda Kozári uses the sense of smell as a mediator in her work AIR, Smell of Helsinki, Budapest and Paris. In collaboration with Bertrand Duchaufour, a French perfume designer, the scenes of the three cities were created and trapped in the acrylic bubbles representing experiences and sensations from the cities.

The exhibition shows works and techniques from 41 artists exploring themes as time and duration, performance and human relationships. It’s a Set Up includes additional programmes both inside and outside the traditional museum environment. Story Café by Johanna Lecklin invites people to have a free cup of coffee with the artist and tell stories that she will later add into her artwork.

It’s a Set Up is one of the most wonderful experiences that someone who loves art can have. It brings to reality the ultimate desire of feeling part of the artwork itself.

It’s a Set Up
Until 20 February 2011
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki
www.kiasma.fi

SUSAN FOURTANÉ -HT
Pirje Mykkänen – Image
Published in the Helsinki Times on April 1st, 2010

Posted in Exhibitions, Helsinki Times, Published Articles | Leave a comment