The interview is available in Finnish language here.
Anastasia, tell us about your work!
I have been working with communities in various context since moving to Finland from Ireland in 2013. Communication and connection between people is something I have been interested in for a long time. The relationships between the visible and the invisible, as well as judgement, justification and accessibility have been the issues I’m trying to make sense of through my practice.
Methodology of artistic exchange, where two different groups of people who do not normally meet face to face are in communication with each other via art-making is something that is particularly important to me. It has been first developed and applied during Invisible Neighbours project, my collaboration with a Finnish artist Annika Niskanen in 2015, with the support of Esitystaiteen Keskus performance art centre and Helsinki prison. There folks in the closed prison in the centre of Helsinki and their fellow citizens living in apartment blocks nearby made and signed postcards for each other. Currently I continue to inquire into the outsider’s relationships with imprisonment. My research and projects can be seen at prisonspace.org
What is the project Martial Law (Poikkeustila) about?
The project is about a place and a connection between people who make its history. It encourages communication between residents of Maunula, particularly living in the care centre for the elderly, Helander-koti and clients of Kriminaalihuollon Tukisäätiö, (Krits), an NGO which supports convicts and their families Maalinnoitus-Hanke project who come from open prisons around Helsinki to restore trenches from World War 1 around capital area. I found the trenches project to be an excellent idea, as it both takes care of urban environment, and focuses on mental welfare of convicts, and I am very excited to be a guest in it. I see my role to suggest and facilitate a broader engagement with the place. I am also excited to introduce the Trenches project via Martial Law to the people who cannot physically go there to see it, or mentally feel separated from the prison folks due to the stigma attached to incarceration.
What kind of experience do you wish to create for the participants/audiences?
I have a particular interest in Patterimäki because it has no obvious famous history. It was built (as the story goes) by Chinese POWs shipped from Siberia to protect the Russian Empire from German invaders. Yet no battles were held, and there is no heroics acknowledged. It is in a way a blank canvas, a space we can project our own ideas of protection, containment, identity.
Based on the wishes and interests of the participants, as well as certain restrictions naturally coming while working with institutions, this collaborative project will employ different media. Personal stories, historical facts and scripted narrative will merge through storytelling - residents of Helander Koti will sharing their stories of life in Maunula, performance - re-enacting imaginary battles in the trenches, environmental art - creating artworks from the wood that has been cut down during the trenches restoration. Most importantly though in this process-based project we will be creating together and developing a dialogue between Everyone is welcome to stop by and contribute to the collective (his)tory.