Yes, you're getting two blogs at the same time. I don't have Wi-Fi in the room, so I have to walk around the block with my iPad to a free zone I found nearby. I didn't do it for yesterday's entry, so you're getting it and this one at the same time. Anyway, before leaving home, I did up a detailed itinerary on every destination, with weather, currency, key phrases in the local language, directions upon arrival to the accommodation, maps, and some sights that sounded good on WikiTravel - a fantastic resource, by the way. It's been a really useful resource and I'm glad I spent the many hours preparing it.
I had seen ahead of time that there was a music festival on today, headlined by Bjork. Getting up today, though, I wasn't feeling particularly inclined, given I'd be going mostly for the hell of it, not because of any real love for any of the bands. Plus, entry was seventy euros, so that plan was scratched. The biggest tourist attraction of Helsinki, the Suomenlinna sea fortress, was warned against on summer weekends due to crowds, so I deferred it to tomorrow. I'd unintentionally crossed one off the list by wandering through a waterfront park, so I really didn't have much left to choose from.
Leafing through a tourist guide, I found out about a modern art museum and decided that would be my first stop. The Kiasma museum was only eight euros entry, but sadly they were in the process of installing two new exhibitions, so only three of the five storeys had anything to see. Despite the quality elsewhere, it did make the space feel a little small. Nonetheless, there was a really interesting collection showcasing comic artists. It is apparently a very famous part of Finnish culture, and they've actually taken it to some really interesting new levels.
I know many would think "comics aren't art," sigh, and walk off, but these started to blur the lines between the medium and more traditional painting or sketch. After all, it's just art that tells a story on the surface, rather than underneath. There were panels stitched out of fabric and hanging from the ceiling. There were three-dimensional sculptures almost like giant transformer robots or tetris pieces, with each side intricately detailed with pencilwork. There were huge murals on plastic in twisting, wiggly red and black. Giant, post-pop art unicorns with flickering eyes projected onto it. 1500 images from a story about immigration were arranged in a room-filling photomosaic that formed the shape of a wave. Really interesting stuff.
Plus, I can now truthfully say my work has been presented in a modern art museum. After the exhibition, there was a large mural space and paper provided with empty cels for you to draw in and display. After the show is over, the best will be collated and shown in the museum and on its website. My scribblings are up there now, not that I expect it to make the cut beyond the exhibition. Still, a really cool idea on the museum's part.
The top two floors were filled with a collection called 'Camouflage', about the blending of design and art. It had novel pieces like a huge, working sci-fi spa bath ensconced in an angular, inflated iceberg; an artist wearing a huge leaf costume and sitting in a tree; a rifle you were encouraged to cock and aim at a shelf of bottles but that flashes an image of a young boy through the scope when you pull the trigger; and a long steel tube that you put a ball bearing in and listen to as it rolls down the other side.
Perhaps the most striking were bastardisations of taxidermied animals. A stuffed finch had had its head cut off and the opening covered in glistening beads. It was perched on a chemistry set and the head, similarly beaded, was in a beaker. There was a rat that had seen its chest and arm cut off and replaced with crystals alongside the crystalline excised piece. On the ground, in full scale, lay the rear half of a lion, with a circular slice separated from its torso and filled with rock and minerals, like geological survey sample. It was very bizarre and surreal but spoke a message that hit my gut but that I haven't been able to process into words yet. Maybe it's the way it treated things that had once lived in the way we treat things that were never alive.
The afternoon was capped off by a visit to a rather wonderful jeans store called NOMO Jeans. 'Now, back up,' I hear you say, 'aren't you Mr. No Shopping?' Yes, I respond, before ceasing to carry out discussions in the third person once and for all. The thing about this place is that it's futuristic and uses body scanning technology to measure your exact dimensions and custom make the jeans exactly to fit you. You pick a style of fit, a colour, fabric type, effects on the jean, stitching, pockets, seams, stretch, internal patterning - it's fully custom built.
Next, you step into a dark room in just your underwear, feeling like an idiot, and they scan you from all angles with flashing lights and gentle classical music. Boom. The perfect fitting jeans (delivered to Australia in a month or two), and utterly unique. Plus, once you have your measurements, you can re-order off the website in a different style. It's crazy and vaguely unnecessary, but honestly not that expensive, and if it gives me jeans that actually fit - which given my lankiness and skinniness is honestly pretty difficult - it will be well worth it. If it somehow isn't quite right, they even pay for you to ship it back from Australia for adjustments. Now that's a warranty.