Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tampere: Art in electricity cabinets

I stand next to the railway station at Tampere, Finland, and fold open a crumpled sheet of paper, a map of an art exhibition. This is not just any art exhibition but an open air one: Taidetta jakokaapeissa 3 is displayed on the electricity distribution cabinets in the Tampere city center. Similar art exhibitions are getting increasingly popular; this is the third one in Tampere, and right now there is one on at Turku as part of its European capital of culture year.

The exhibition was put together by Tampere Museum of Contemporary Art and the local energy company Tampereen Sähköverkko Oy. There are 20 works of art on display, and I decide to walk a full circle following them, and not stroll by numbers. First I encounter Sanna Kauppinen's photograph with a maiden disguising herself behind birch bark, then study a black and white drawing by Kristian Tuomainen the glossy surface of which is tinted by the reflections of coloured city lights.

The third artwork is practically hidden behind construction work so I can't get a closer look at Hans Viebrock's Circle. Luckily, this is just a temporary roadblock.
I cross the Hämeensilta bridge to the other side of the magnificent Tammerkoski stream which splits the city centre in half and is right now illuminated by horses dancing in the air. At this time of the year, Tampere is boldly fighting against the darkness with a vast number of decorative lights hung about town - it's the 46th Tampere Illuminations which runs until early 2012.

After the bus stops bathing in blue light at Keskustori square, I take a left to Aleksis Kivi street. If you know Finnish language, don't forget to look about you to read the texts on the pavement, a work of art commemorating major Finnish writers who lived in Tampere. 
The beautiful red flowers by Anna Alapuro create a Christmas feeling, especially because the store next door is decorated for Xmas and tonight there are candles burning on the lanterns placed outside the door.
Up on the wall, Finnish writer Lauri Viita's words are inscribed on a piece of rock; a rough translation: A light appears on your window/ You are home again / I've missed you there. 

When I reach Laukontori market square, I am confused. Where is number 10, by Janne Laine? Oh no, another renovation work going on... The electricity distribution cabinet is covered behind a tarpaulin, like most of the building. Well, it won't be hidden for ever - I can see it another time.
Next, I stop to examine the colourful piggy trainers (Jaakko Himanen) before returning to the main street, Hämeenkatu, where Anne Lehtelä's Matka (Journey) and Harri Rauhaniemi's Hatakambari are in delightful contrast with each other, like night and day. Rauhaniemi's cheerful colours simply make me feel cheerful also! Going round the street corner, I take Johanna Havimäki's button-eyed mouse Eila by surprise. Sorry...

Halfway of the artistic walk, I arrive at the long Hämeenpuisto park which hosts two pieces of art as part of this project, but there are many more besides. There is Tessa Ojala's tender photograph In Granny's shoes but I wonder what is worrying Hannamari Matikainen's Raven who seems a bit downcast. A few more steps, and I am at Kauppakatu street, where my first thought is that Petri Niemelä is displaying a misty photograph of an iron bridge, but is it so really...
More splashing psychedelic colours can be seen at Tommi Musturi's Speed Gun, close to the department store Anttila, just off the pedestrian street. When I arrive at Satakunnakatu street, at the gates of red brick Finlayson area, I am taken to a more peaceful yet disturbing world by Satu Syrjänen Tai (Or) which makes you wonder, what the web structure really is about.
On my way back to the other side of Tammerkoski rapids, well under control of the power station, I stop to gaze at the dark, gently flowing water in the beautiful moonlight. Hotel Tammer looks quite neat, and right in front of it there are more lovely reflections of water by Marja-Liisa Torniainen, only it is not easy to distinguish the gentle tones when it is this dark. Next, I feel embarrased because I look for Vera Arjoma's artwork (n:o 13) for a while without success. Am I blind? (Yes! I must admit that I had to return the next morning in daylight to find is on the corner of Rongankatu and Aleksanterinkatu streets).
However, Petri Niemelä's Paradoxal at Pellavatehtaankatu street cannot go unnoticed. The pink picture has unfortunately been discovered also by competing street artists who have started scribbling on it. Jealous people, or the statement just works. Two small blocks from here, Tuula Alajoki gives a glimpse of Annin baari, (Anni's Bar - decorated with bright colours).
Kirsti Tuokko has carefully selected the venue for her Blue-eyed Bratz which is stuck right next to a sex shop. Thought-provoking for sure. I am now at the end of my evening walk and soon close to the Tampere railway station where the last work of art is waiting: a young girl poised on a chair, holding a bright red book with a wolf disguised as Granny lurking behind - Big Bad by Kristiina Sario. Not bad at all, I say! This was a very pleasant evening walk at Tampere.

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