Anni interviewed by Eo

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E: So I’m now here with artist Anni Puolakka who is presenting some work in our gallery titled Attention Span. A: Attention Spa. E: Attention Spa, I’m so sorry. So, we’re just really grateful to have you show with us. And it’s wonderful to have you in Rotterdam. You’re a Rotterdam-based artist, aren’t you? A: Yeah, I am. E: But you’re originally from Finland. A: Yeah. E: And this piece is a collaboration? A: Yeah. E: And who’s the other person? A: She’s Jenna Sutela. E: And how long have you been collaborating? A: We collaborated a lot together for a couple of years, but now we haven’t worked together for some time. E: So, can you tell the audience about your work, Attention Spa? A: It’s an installation which will be in the exhibition space for eight weeks and then it will also function as a platform for some events – some performances and a talk. E: OK, so can we just go through that again a bit slower. So we have a performance, an installation, a talk, is that everything? A: Maybe it’s easier to talk about the installation as a basis – because the installation will be there throughout the duration of the exhibition – and then it will also function as a platform or stage for three events, at least. Maybe there will also be some more spontaneous performances or events, but so far we’ve programmed three events. E: So there’s an element of co-curation within? A: Yes. E: So, talk me through the performance. How many people will be featuring – will you be in it? A: Me and Jenna will do the first performance during the opening evening. And then the second one will be a talk by an aquatic ecosystems specialist. E: Amazing. A: And we’re actually still in the process of finding that specialist, but we trust that we’ll be able to find someone from Rotterdam, because it seems that there are a lot of related initiatives or projects. The third performance is going to be a concert by a sound artist and musician Tomoko Sauvage. She’s going to be performing with water bowls; these porcelain bowls that she fills with water. E: Who made them? A: I don’t know. E: You need to find that out. A: That’s her main instrument. E: It must be quite dangerous travelling with that porcelain. A: Where is she coming from? A: She comes from Paris. E: Wow, it sounds like there’s so much happening. I’m very excited! Do you think there will be an aspect of education within this? A: What do you mean by that? E: What do you hope that the audience will get as a viewing experience? A: The exhibition is a thematic one so there’s a curatorial theme which deals with quantified self phenomenon. So how we observe ourselves, often in quite an individualistic manner. So this piece is a kind of an counteraction to that, so the focus is on people forming assemblages with each other and with other matter like water, for example. E: There’s also water in the body. A: Yes, so basically, the first performance will deal with that. It will be a text based performance that will be a meditation on our relationship with water and how water binds us together with other beings. E: Brilliant, sounds amazing. And also we’re in Rotterdam which is six meters below sea-level. A: Yeah, that will be dealt with in the first performance, the meaning of that. E: Can we go back to these assemblages. Do they need a certain amount of people to complete them? A: So the main element of the installation is a pool which will be filled with water. And people will have a chance to have their feet in the pool while we perform. So they will be actively in touch with the water element. E: Will we have towels on the side? A: Yeah, we will. E: OK. A: So we’re hoping that there will join us in the pool during the performances. And in terms of what will happen in between the performances, we have created a custom moon clock that will quantify time until the next social gathering or event. E: Is that a digital clock? A: Yeah, there will be a digital moon that will be full when a performance takes place and in between the moon will shrink and then grow to become full again. E: And how will people know that this is measuring time? A: Well, I also view the moon as a contemplative element because obviously there’s a strong connection between the moon and water. E: Tides. A: Yeah, the movement of water. Also in many cultures, people consider that moon has a big effect on our bodies. So, for example in yoga practice you might not do practice, or you do a special practice when the moon is full, because according to yogic knowledge we’re more vulnerable during the full moon. E: The moon operates on so many levels. A: So yeah, I consider it to be a contemplative element that you don’t necessarily need to regard as something that has a specific function, but then again, we will actually mention the relationship of the moon to the timing of the piece in the wall text. E: That was my next question: if there was going to be an accompanying text that I’m not writing? A: There will be one. A: It’s coming from you? E: It’s a collaboration between us and the curator who curated this show. E: And how do you feel about applying this piece that has previously happened to a new space and working with different people? A: Well, this hasn’t happened before. E: Oh it hasn’t? A: This is a continuation of Jenna’s and my collaboration. So we’ve done similar work before that is about people gathering and distribution of texts in intimate situation, and bodies and technology. But this is a new piece of work that is made specifically for this exhibition. E: Wow, we’re really honoured to have you here. Thank you so much for speaking with me. A: Thank you.