YEAR OF THE RABBIT - WITH A JUNIPER
This performance for camera is the tenth in a series of twelve year-long performance projects, which I call performing landscape, on Harakka Island off Helsinki, named after the Chinese Calendar, and concerned with the question: how to perform landscape today.
I try to record and document changes in the landscape by video filming the same action in the same place, from the same point with the same framing of the image, once a week for a year. These documentations are then edited to form video installations. This way of working means for me to link myself to the traditions of performance art, video art and environmental art, and to work in the areas between them. For the year of the rabbit, 2011, I wanted to find a new relationship to the environment and chose to visit a juniper in the southern part of the island. It grows in an area reserved for nesting birds, but I received permission to enter it for this project, and left the camera on tripod on the other side of the dividing rope not to encourage visitors to follow me. After some experiments I ended up holding hands with the juniper and covering myself with a dark green shawl.
Unlike the projects undertaken in the previous years I decided to make this action a public performance, to invite spectators to witness my performing for camera, and to repeat it at an exact time, that is, Sundays at 3pm. To be able to inform potential visitors quickly about possible changes in schedule due to bad weather or my other duties, I decided to start a blog. This blog soon evolved into a crucial part of the performance. Not many visitors showed up, despite my advertisement on the national website Presentaatio, so I invited colleagues or occasional passers-by to function as witnesses and to take a photo. Soon I suggested that they take a picture of something they find interesting in the surroundings, and decided that every collaborator could participate only once. This added a dialogical dimension to the project.
Thus two kinds of documentation of changes in the landscape are produced by this project-one of the actual performances, which are recorded on video, and another in the blog, including my notes and the images of the shifting participants, who often focus on details I would never have thought of. The blog also adds another temporal dimension to the performance. The previous years were performed first for the camera and for occasional passers-by and then, one year later, in edited form for gallery visitors and on the web. This year, however, the blog made the project instantly public, and enabled a more process-oriented approach, including notes from various places I have travelled to and tried to find a juniper to visit.