Interview for the Helsingin Sanomat

by Liisa Jokinen. 

Published in Helsinki, Finland, August 2010.

1. How and why did you start making art together?

We were all in school together.  The Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts.  In 1995 we were invited along with other art students from the nordic countries to come to Helsinki for a seminar in connection with the exhibition Ars 95.  There we got to know each other much better and met people who were making art as a group. There were many seeds planted on this trip.  Then when we came back a girl in our school wanted to stage a performance and she needed helpers. We were excited about this and had also been thinking about performance individually.  We enjoyed working as a group. Somehow ideas moved faster and exploded more joyfully within a group.  A little later there was a night of performance art held in the basement of the National theatre.  Then the girl who we had worked with before wanted to do something on her own and then we just decided to make something the three of us. It all happened very fast and unconsciously. Nobody thought that we would still be doing things together 15 years later. 

2. Why did you choose to be artists?

We all decided to become artists at a very young age around 6 or 7 years old.  We have different memories of being in connection with art making and relating to this kind of behaviour.

One of us remembers a beautiful and thin old nephew who was living in the apartment in the basement. He made paintings of lava fields and landscapes and wore a black shiny hairpiece. He never married. She decided at 7 that she wanted to become an artist.

Another one had a mother who would at times stay up late at night and paint. She was going through some hard times and the paintings were dramatic. One was of a woman with a snake around her neck that was strangling her. One moved into a brand new apartment building when she was small. The inhabitants of the building decided to decorate the outside walls with an art piece by Sigurjón Ólafsson, a modernist icelandic sculptor. This piece was made of concrete, and they had to go and pick up the moulds for this piece. She remembers driving in a pick-up truck and these moulds were in the back.

3. What is life like as an artist? How is it to be an artist in Iceland in 2010?

Life as an artist is quite good. It is a privilege to be in control of your own time and space. And it is a luxury to be able to make things that don't have a specific purpose.

4. Tell me something about your coming exhibition! What are you going to show?

We have made 8 new works for this exhibition. Photographs, video, embroidery, a portrait of Amos Anderson and a large installation that is in a way inspired by rose windows in gothic churches.  Plus a new performance which will take place in front of the museum on saturday august 21.

In making these works we have been inspired by a lot of things. But here are a few of the complex sources of inspiration: synthetic versus natural, being female, the human evolution, reproduction of life, creation, religion, sex, biology, humor, trash, philosophy, light, dance, our mothers, entrepreneurs, power, control, the lack of control.

4. You use tights/nylon as your material. Why? Why do tights inspire you?

We have used this material in different ways in our body of works.  Several pieces such as Bald Eagle, Second Skin and Black Swan have been made with an old method that one of us learned from her grandmother, where you shape feathers or petals with wire and pantyhose.  Then we have worn them as part of our costume and this time we wanted to take it further and really explore the material because it has so many interesting conceptual layers.  It is very female object but also a result of really complicated technological and chemical process.  Sort of a scientific miracle.  A symbol of mans control over nature or maybe rather a sign of how crude and sterile mans synthetic creations are in comparison with nature.

But they are fun.  Its nice to have them around...

5. Do you like to wear tights, too? What kind of tights do you like most?

Yes we wear them.  We like all kinds.  black, skin colored, thick thin

6. How are you going to use tights/nylon in Helsinki?

We will use them as costumes, and in all of the works they appear in some form, to create color or structures or to shape things or just as metaphysical ideas. 

7. Do you think tights/nylon suit Helsinki especially well? Or is it a material that works fine anywhere? 

They work well universally

8. What do you want say with your works?

We want to create a conversation with the people who look at them.  We want to be able to spark some thought in the viewers mind which connects with their own stories.

9. And lastly I would like to get 5 tips from you! Every woman and a girl has loads of old, broken tights at home. Give readers 5 DIY tips how to re-use them – how to make new fashion/design/art out fo them! Please write clear and detailed instructions so that anyone can follow them.

There are a lots of tips online and in books in libraries for such recycling.  We even know that there is a specific finnish word for this.  NIKSIPIRRKA.