The week on the island of Varjakka was marked with some amazing explorations of the old Konttori (office) building, the heart of the island and Warjakka Art Lab by TaikaBox and Warjakka Art Residency within the CROWD international dance exchange.
Dance artists Emma Lewis-Jones, Pontus Linder and Hannah Sampe have been exploring the sites of Varjakka together, tuning to its special soundtrack – the one of overwhelming yet no pressing silence, the one that amplifies every heart beat, every single eye batting sound, offering a number of meanings to reflect on.
Emma, Pontus and Hannah are beautiful parts of this year’s Warjakka Art Residency, which in its order is a proud part of the CROWD dance exchange programme together with some wonderful partners from across Europe.
The Konttori building is about one hundred years old. It was a administrative centre of the working life here in Varjakka back in the days where the local life was structured around a sawmill – one of the biggest at the time in Nordic countries. Workers from all over Finland, Sweden and Russia came to be a part of that life until in 1929 the Wall Street crash triggered the mill closure as it was no longer seen as feasible. The depressive atmosphere kept escalating. During the second world war prisoners from the nearby POW camp were engaged into making charcoal on the island…
Varjakka was becoming more and more abandoned with years, even though it was quite a holiday destination in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. These days the place is being revived with a number of community-based cultural activities, Warjakka Art Residency being one of the awesome parts of this.
The trip to the island always starts with riding a ferry. The trick here is that you have to pull the paddle backward for the ferry to move forward. Another trick is that the weight makes you put effort to moving the whole thing, yet in the same time you use all of it to pull the paddle, you physically appreciate the weight as with every move it becomes a helper rather than a burden.
The island of Varjakka only adds up to the rethinking of common concepts, The silence amplifies each wave committed by a thought and / or sound, suggesting new scenarios and making rediscover the existing ones.
Stay tuned as Hannah, Emma and Pontus explore the space and (re)create meanings. We are very happy to be sharing the work in progress with you here and other social media. We believe that community-based art is one of the best antidotes to abandonment and abuse (and we also just love it). Varjakka’s background is blessing its rebirth just the way one’s weight helps move the ferry forward.