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#2 Soft Power

Bombay Bicyle Club (Madrid, Spain 2014)
According to Wikipedia soft power is the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. SFMOMA’s exhibition SOFT POWER is about the ways in which artists deploy art to explore their roles as citizens and social actors. For me the concept simultaneously represents an ambiguity and a particularity. 

Editors (Helsinki, Finland 2017)
While delivering concrete results the use of (hard(er)) power can often leave many feel powerless. Power doesn’t belong to all. It has been collected and canned and is being stored for the selected few. The ones who may visit their power pantry daily or hardly ever, but it’s their power panty and no-one else’s. The ones who do not choose to make an extra key even for family and friends, not to mention the next door neighbour who yet again has painted their front door the wrong shade of blue. 

Au Revoir Simone (Madrid, Spain 2013)
Soft power seems to counter its ironclad sibling. It’s like a warm blanket you can wrap yourself into, the hygge of power games. Perhaps naively so I believe that soft power cannot be canned and hidden away, it only really works if left laying around in a public space available for all by-passers. The more people pick it up the more strength it gathers and instead of bringing people down it empowers them. It’s like a pile of shiny slime - attractive, addictive, shapeshifting. 

The National (Helsinki, Finland 2018)
In my teens I fell in love with a Latvian band who sang many of their songs in Latvian - a language I didn’t speak. A language I still don’t speak, but can sing in (leaving aside a discussion about my musical skills). A time that made me learn more about the country, learn some of the language and meet other people with similar fire in their bellies. Many of whom I can still on this day - odd 20 years later - call friends. 

The Latvian band - BrainStorm - and yours truly (Pärnu, Estonia 2001)
I used to be glued to television watching ‘Gilmore Girls’ like so many others around the Globe. The quotes, the jokes, the references - they’re all like the super-short-cuts in creating meaningful connections with like-minded strangers. All this to me is like soft power anti-punch-in-the-gut. The music, the movies, the paintings. To name a few. They all weave a web between us. Its full shape and size will always remain a mystery. The lines running through can push and pull us in unknown directions. Always connected. 

St Vincent (Helsinki, Finland 2018)
I stand corrected. Soft power can be canned, but the moment you take off the lid it runs in its own direction leaving behind spots, swirls and marks. Its course cannot be premeditated and the influence measured with common tools. To those who like to can and store their power and use it with great precision and calculation this is not an attractive choice. For the rest it could be the tool to build a more understanding and connected, curious and educated community. It could be a power tool to empower others around us as opposed to leaving many people powerless. 

Foals (Madrid, Spain 2013)


#1 Decade

I thought that Spotify was celebrating its 10th birthday when it fed me with all those best of and whatnot lists. I was somehow blind to the fact that I was slowly sinking into the sea of decade wrap ups. While slightly confused it didn’t really bother me. Who doesn’t love a good list? It could be done in any given moment. E.g. my favourite dust bunnies on January 6th, 2020. One really doesn’t need a time-ly reason. After all, getting too focused on time is like fiddling with a Pandora’s box.

By the time I realised that a decade is coming to an end it was way too late. Too late to think of an appropriate fancy way to celebrate, too late to fill my blog and social media with lists, wrap ups and inspiring stories. Good riddance. I mean, we are already days into a new decade. 

Firstly, I am not really prone to fancy celebrating. It always looks more fun in the movies. Less loud and more glamorous. Secondly, what if the Georgian calendar loses its prominent standing and the whole system gets thrown out of the window?! Thirdly, what if my decade doesn’t look much compared to Spotify’s decade? Less loud, less labeled and without all the cute graphs. Foremost so ‘cos I have not been collecting my life experience data in a systematic way. 

Moreover, I believe that small uncountable details really build up the vibe of a time. May it be a day or a week, a month or a decade based on a Georgian calendar. Some of those I have collected in my Instagram account (since 2012, so almost a decade!), others are piled up in the notes on my phone. Like the crash hot collection of potential band/secret cult names. Large chunk of those moments cannot be pinned down or named, but they have made me into the person I am today. Like today will add to the self I am tomorrow. Okay, that sounds too... I better get off that bandwagon, before it's too late. But you get the gist. If I could have any one thing to describe my decade it would be a chronological visual list of all the artwork I have seen. Or then all the songs I have heard. Preferably both. I could make stunning visuals and graphs and celebrate like it’s 1999. I made a cake in 1999. It was a good celebration.

Perhaps more interesting are the overarching interests and values that run like a red thread from one decade to another taking different shapes while keeping their essence. For example I have loved music as long as I can remember, but my favourite artists have changed more often than those celebrated Georgian calendar decades. I have always felt strongly about justice and equal treatment, but not always have I given it much attention or felt like I need to speak up. But, the times they are a-changin'. (Oh, that bandwagon again!)  

To conclude, noticing how time passes by isn’t relevant at all. Unless you’re in a business of making cool graphs or in deep need for self-reflection. Let’s bet I’ll be as surprised in 2029 as I was in 2019. End of a decade. 



Hello 2020

In the scariest dark hides a marvellous spark. 
(The Crash "Fireworks")

Favourites of 2019

Ragnar Kjartansson "Scandinavian Pain" at Kiasma (Dec 2019 in Helsinki, Finland)
Making favourites lists seems futile. However, I looked back at the posts I had made about 2015, 2017 and 2018 and I enjoyed them. (I don’t know what happened in 2016. :))

I’m greedy. I have this feeling that I could do more and see more, always. At the same time I can’t recall many wonderful things I have seen and heard. I crave for a time out. And then some of my favourite moments are as random as a pitstop at a roadside market looking at the photos of local heroes and cheerleaders. 

Rambling aside, here are some of the most memorable experiences of 2019.

  • (Sandy) Alex G “House of Sugar”
  • James Blake “Assume Form”
  • Lana Del Rey “Norman Fucking Rockwell”
  • The National “I Am Easy to Find”
I have this underlying fear that what if I never listen to anything new again. Like I am too tired. I wanna cling to the familiar (I mean, if I love something then I love something). But thankfully life always throws a curveball (is it really a curveball if it seems to happen always?!). Apart from the albums mentioned I listened to a bunch of different artist. And of those four two are new loves - never before had I been sucked into Lana Del Rey’s world so completely. And Alex G is just a new kid on the block for me. 

  • (Sandy) Alex G (Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, USA, 29 Oct)
  • Courtney Barnett (Huvila-teltta, Helsinki, Finland, 26 Aug)
  • Father John Misty (Flow Festival, Helsinki, Finland, 11 Aug)
  • The Holy (Huvila-teltta, Helsinki, Finland, 26 Aug)
  • James Blake (Flow Festival, Helsinki, Finland, 11 Aug)
  • Mitski (Flow Festival, Helsinki, Finland, 11 Aug)
Holiday Lights (Dec 2019 in Helsinki, Finland)
  • Anja Niemi “In Character” (Fotografiska, Tallinn, Estonia)
  • David Jiménez (Sala Canal de Isabel II, Madrid, Spain)
  • Darío Villalba (Sala Alcalá 31, Madrid, Spain)
  • Karoliina Hellberg (Didrichsen Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland)
  • Ragnar Kjartansson “The Visitors” (Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland)
Let’s be clear now - Ragnar stole my heart in 2019! He had me first hooked in 2014. And I mean, stealing my heart with video art is mission impossible to begin with.

  • Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, USA)
  • Pier 24 Photography (San Francisco, USA)
  • SFMOMA (San Francisco, USA)
I had to make these subcategories, because during my trip to San Francisco I visited three spectacular places. Oakland Museum of California is probably the overlord of all museums, because it beautifully combines art, history and nature. Not the mention the temporary Burning Man exhibition. Got a feeling that if Burning Man were a baby it definitely grew up being nothing like its parents had imagined. I’d like to place my bets when will it turn into a soccer mom retreat (how crude!). But I mean, it was a wonderful museum experience. And Pier 24 is the make believe wonderland for anyone interested in photography. Say, even if you hate photography it probably has something for you. All hail! (in all sincerity!)

  • Leonardo da Vinci “Lady With an Ermine” (National Museum, Krakow, Poland)
Because you can’t visit Krakow without encountering the painting in all forms all over the town. To be fair, it was nice (my heart rarely beats an extra beat for art from that era, so I mean, it was great success). I choose to tell how it is my favourite da Vinci painting (not that I have seen that many of those). I think that will make me an astonishing conversationalist and a hit at all social gatherings. 

Lasipalatsi (Dec 2019 in Helsinki, Finland)

I discovered Sally Rooney (I read night and day wishing there were more books by her) and Alexander Chee ("How to Write an Autobiographical Novel" is a gem). I traveled to Northern Spain (Cantabria wins) and Northern California! I’m a Northerner, so much it almost breaks my heart (ah, good old melodrama). Also appreciating the irony that some Norths are so much more sunnier. I have seen the mountains and the ocean - some of my favourite things. And my godson was born! (Disclaimer: it’s a non-religious godparent thing.)

So this is it. In a nutshell. The end. Here's to 2019!


Week 52: Dance

Listening: Kristin Anna

On 1 Jan 2019 I sat down at my kitchen table. I took 52 pieces of yellow paper and wrote down 52 random words. I rolled them up and tucked away in a Belgian cookie tin with nuns on it. Every week I take out one word and shoot accordingly.

Week 51: Chicken

Ps. It's really a turkey. And I wanted to call  the pic 'Post Mortem'.

Listening: Christmas songs

On 1 Jan 2019 I sat down at my kitchen table. I took 52 pieces of yellow paper and wrote down 52 random words. I rolled them up and tucked away in a Belgian cookie tin with nuns on it. Every week I take out one word and shoot accordingly.


I wrote several paragraphs for my Carmel-by-the-Sea update over the past week. I got so carried away that some of the text was actually about Monterey. Human mind, so reliable. :) So, here I am binding those fragments together. Carmel was all cute and it had the ocean. I love the ocean. I am biased to places where all mighty ocean hits the shores. I'm all like... a surfer and a magic maker inside. (Let's take a moment here to appreciate the irony. I mean, I am also terrified of speed and unpredictability.)

However, on that day in Carmel I also learned that I am not interested in a fairy tale life. Not even spending a longer holiday. Maybe I shouldn't say it out loud. I mean now people can shove it to my face - you rejected the magic and asked for the mundane, deal with it, don't complain. (And I am kinda totally into complaining.)

Tourists. Tourists. Tourists. All those European vibes. How unfair is that. I mean, after all, it is us Europeans who settled there. So why do I complain (ha!)?! It looked like some distorted version of German cottages and French riviera, where I have not been; but I have this compelling illusion what it must be like. But okay, if you prefer - just like Belgian Northern coast packed with holiday apartments and cottages. I have been there, solid argument (I am laughing at my own jokes here, ahem).

Why do I think that the man I saw in some other small town with weathered face and a bright red beanie was somehow more real than those people there enjoying their all American (e.g. Kate Spade) shopping in a make believe fairy tale town?! Or why do I think that shopping should be done in a different town surrounded by different buildings? Or is it really that I would prefer my car being smaller than my house? That's for me and my alter egos to debate over under different circumstances in another time. (Our conversations hardly ever run dry.)  

Yet, I took many photos. Too many photos of something I claim I have no real interest in. The joke, it might be on me. (Wouldn't have it any other way.)