Tanja Parkkonen
Welcome to virtual print exhibition Doing and Living!
The exhibition was found in the Tikkurila library, Pisto-gallery 22.10. - 9.11.2018
Doing and Living in the Pisto-Gallery
I created an exhibition of graphic prints for the Pisto-gallery in the Tikkurila Library, at Vantaa. For any artist, an exhibition is an important moment to review the past and, as such, take a step forward. The purpose of this article is to contemplate my exhibition. Here, I will describe some prints by recalling my thoughts while working on them. I will not explain the prints’ purpose, meaning nor what they are represent; the interpretation is ultimately based on the visitors’ own views and experiences. Instead, I will reflect and think, go through different topics in my mind while creating these prints. Thoughts and feelings are an ongoing process while I work with art. Some of my thoughts may appear in moods in prints, but it is also possible that I misremember. 

Art as a hobby is explained by the aesthetics of everyday. I feel tremendous joy when handling various life-related situations and even challenges by creating art. Before I developed my exhibition, I was listening to a lecture by Yuriko Saito at a conference organized by the International Association for Aesthetics. During her career, Saito has studied the characteristics of everyday aesthetics. She stated in her lecture and in her latest book that aesthetics should not be disconnected from our lives, since everyday aesthetics determine the quality of society and ultimately the state of the world for better or worse (Saito 2017, 4). I agree with her; I understand this particularly well through any art hobby. Art as part of life is the way to be and join the environment. Life is something to do and to participate in. Handling life in general is an arrogant goal – there hardly exists anything more difficult to handle. After all, art as part of everyday life puts everything back into the contexts of the ordinary human being. 

Kotimatkalla, 2016. Colour rolling on plastic plate, series 1, 39 x 30 cm. 
Bussipysäkillä, 2016. Colour rolling on plastic plate, series 1, 30 x 30 cm. 

These prints are made by thinking about home and the way home. The change of landscapes, the differences between the environments during the day and the evening are something that I want to make into a part of my life. While creating these prints, I was thinking about the effects of variation and change in the everyday. I also thought of the way home as an intellectual journey. Thoughts when the morning news went on about the bombings and the civilians trying to live their lives in the middle of it. I looked at buildings through bus windows in the suburbs and wondered what it would look like, if someday it was different; what if some day, there is no longer a home to come back to.  

Another thought was the effect of time on my everyday environment. New houses, the new planted flowers in parks are dying, waning and decaying until one day, they may disappear altogether. Yuriko Saito calls sustainability one of the areas of aesthetic appreciation. Every object, thing and being is inevitably subject to change, nothing in the world will remain as it is. We pay attention to the continuity of the existence of the object because we believe that good aesthetics values give the course and the basis for the object's durability. Nevertheless, change and fluctuation are themselves neutral, so the terms of change and variation do not mean anything negative or positive. Human beings value change in terms of what our attitudes bring to our attention. The name of our positive development is, for example, maturing and growing. The changes we experience negatively, we call aging, retardation and decay. The ways of naming differentiate our attitude to a change, as well as identifying the processes of life. (Saito 2013, 149.) 

Change is a law of nature, and this change is independent of our will. Even if we try to keep something unchanged, it would not succeed. With chosen expressions, we show what we aim for and how we value the event of the transformation process. However, not all aging is a bad thing; for example, in the European tradition our aim is to preserve memories. We know how ruins can offer satisfaction, and we often travel to see them. The ways to call time-induced changes indicate that the meaning of time is diverse. One of the more important features of time is democracy. Regardless of whether we are rich or poor, time works the same; it changes not only us, but also everything we own and have achieved. (Saito 2013, 154, 184.)

Omakuva I, 2018. Etching and aquatint, series 3, 25 x 25 cm.  

My own portrait was perhaps the most difficult print to create for my exhibition. Like the environment, I see myself as a process, a continuous series of changes. Despite the constant change, I will never be finished. Like Yuriko Saito stated, we could value our own change however we see fit. One can think of one's transformation as: aging, deteriorating or developing and refining. I have to admit, it was difficult to think about myself as changed. However, it is good to consider what I want to tell about myself from time to time. 

I needed to leave this print somewhat unfinished due to the power of reflection and the schedule of the exhibition – on the other hand, the model of the portrait is unfinished as well. A self-portrait could be done every year, for example, leaving it still and again unfinished. 

Työtoveruus I, 2017. Drypoint on aluminum plate, series 1, 25 x 20 cm.
Työtoveruus II, 2017. Drypoint on aluminum and plastic plates, series 1, 25 x 20 cm.

We face a wide variety of people in our everyday life. Some of them are close friends, and others we meet in passing. When I made these two prints, I was thinking about my colleagues and how they shape me and the effects I might have on them. I have been fortunate to meet wonderful people during my career. I was thinking about the problems and challenges of doing things together, adapting to the customs and different views. Gradually, we adjust and eventually find common ideas and thoughts. Through group work, we start to look ahead and learn together, until eventually, we become even closer. What a process!

Ratkaisu, 2016. Colour rolling on aluminum plate, series 1, 25 x 29 cm.
Altavastaaja, 2016. Colour rolling and drypoint on aluminum plate, series 1, 25 x 29 cm. 
I made these prints when thinking about the challenges of my daily work. How could we effectively define abstract multidimensional problems as solutions? Oversimplifying things and challenges is a method of our time. In order to solve challenges, they must be made understandable, i.e. they should be split into small pieces and assembled into various categories to wait for explanations. Perhaps my thoughts here were cynical, but eventually I noticed the subject amused me. One rule to remember would be: I dig and stack, scatter and gather, but first of all, I wait, let time pass and do its work. 

Yuriko Saito emphasizes that by bringing the background to the foreground and the focus, we bring out our ways of aesthetic being. Knowingly minding familiar and ordinary is about aesthetic experience. Being aware and paying attention is a prerequisite of any kind of aesthetic experience, in spite of the content. (Saito 2017, 24.) 

Saito, Yuriko 2013 (2007). Everyday Aesthetics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
Saito, Yuriko 2017. Aesthetics of the Familiar: Everyday Life and World-Making. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

© Tanja Parkkonen