Narva Art Residency opens Jaakko Autio’s large-scale sound installation that was made with 40 Finnish, Estonian and Estonian-Russian choir singers on the 22nd of June at 18. All are welcome to the opening reception at the residency’s gallery halls (Joala 18).
The sound installation “On The Border” contemplates the question “Who am I?” in a world fragmented by boundaries. The work was born in the Russian-Estonian border-town of Narva as a part of Jaakko Autio’s three-month-long stay at Narva Art Residency. The musical composition is a gentle and abstract version of the national anthem shared by Finns and Estonians – “Maamme laulu / Mu Isamaa” (1847, Pacius) – where the recognizable melody only comes around subtly. The installation is made of 40 speakers where one can hear 40 different singers singing, breathing and speaking together. But the visitor can listen to each singer’s individual voice also separately.
Narva itself is significant for the context of the artwork. It is the most Russian-speaking city in Europe with 96% of the population speaking it. Although the border between Russia and Estonia is clearly drawn by the river, the locals’ own identity is a mixture of both – Estonian and Russian. The name of the installation “On the border” refers to the state border, but also to the border between human beings, and the interpersonal space itself. The artist Jaakko Autio said, “I hope that the installation takes people from the realm of time to the realm of timelessness where we can momentarily remember how it feels to melt and be together in the absence of the polarization of opposite views.”
(For longer version: The installation creates a kind of utopia, an immersive experiential space in which both the singers and the visitors of the installation merge into a larger whole. Is it an aesthetic experience, where guilt, fear, and shame do not have a place. The visitors get to perceive the reality that is characterized by empathy and mutual acceptance. In such conditions, each of them can experience their own utopia of the future that is made of a calm shared space not masked by the narratives of the surrounding media.)
The premiere of the installation took place earlier this spring as part of the Tallinn–Narva Music Week and reached up to a thousand visitors over the weekend. A small version of the work will also be on display at Kogo Gallery, Tartu (8.9-5.11.2022), Galleria Aarni in Espoo, Finland (1-27.11.2022) and Porvoo Art Factory, Finland (6.12.2022-8.1.2023).
The work is supported by Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Titanik gallery. Participating choirs: Narva music school girls choir (EE), Narva Estonian language house Tandem choir (EE), Narva museum folk ensemble “Suprjadki” (EE) and Nomad Vocals Choir (FI). Composition: Jussi Mattila (FI)