Archive | February, 2012

Fire & Rescue Museum

28 Feb

Jussi Kivi, Alam Center, Ohio 1971

Jussi Kivi’s Fire & Rescue Museum shows, among other things, the artist’s extensive collection of firefighting memorabilia. The origins of Kivi’s museum lie in his childhood passion for firefighting and in his lifelong pursuit of objects connected with it. On the one hand, Fire & Rescue Museum reminds us of the traditional view that the separation of man from animal – the beginning of culture – coincides with our ability to extinguish fire and to bend it to our will. As a natural element, fire represents the museum’s – the archive’s – most serious threat. In that sense, a museum devoted to firefighting is a museum devoted to culture as pure preservation and defense. Here, fire – understood as a destructive force – can have no place because it threatens the archive at its very foundations. Yet in basing his museum on a private, idiosyncratic childhood passion, Kivi also hints that without fire – without little Jussi’s devotion to firefighting – there would be no collection, and hence no culture. Collections, in fact, are all about fire: their owners tirelessly pursue the one elusive piece that would complete the set once and for all, and extinguish the fire that keeps them searching. And yet, to find that piece is a moment the collector both eagerly awaits and dreads at the same time. For in the collection’s closure she inevitably reads her own death (the absence of heat). (Text by Sven Spieker, Framework)

Collecting is to a great degree irrational – even when it revolves around something as strongly symbolic of order and control as firefighting. Kivi has collected objects related to firefighting almost all his life. He has also shown the collection he named the ‘Fire Museum’ at his studio, although only to a selected circle of friends and, even then, somewhat self-ironically. He preferred to keep the material half hidden behind the shelves in his studio. Kivi himself has said that irony is his only defense against the role of manic collector and buff. Before this work and context of display, the collection was not about art. In Kivi’s thinking art was linked to something that was real in the world.  (Text by Jonni Roos, Framework)

 About the Museum

Notes by Kim Levin

28 Feb

Source

Notes and Itineraries 1975 – 2004 (by Kim Levin –  New York based artists) offers an alternative model that crosses the borders between art writing and art making. It deals in a very literal sense with time and history, memory and meaning. This longterm project tracks the peregrinations of New York’s exhibition spaces as they shifted from Soho to the East Village and back again and then to Chelsea and elsewhere, and it traces the course of artists who, like Nancy Spero and Jeff Koons, started out in group shows in East Village galleries long before they were household names. It began as a working method for me as a critic whose job required that I cover a lot of ground. It also functioned, in a way, autobiographically, listing the galleries (with addresses) and exhibitions (with dates of shows) in the order in which I intended to see them, as well as noting my appointments, my shopping lists, and my instant reactions to the art. Later it became a two-room installation in a New York gallery, a somewhat perplexing and unexpected artwork that questions the distinctions between the visible, the legible, and the visual.

(…)

As for my archive, it fills ten metal filing cabinets, plus twenty cardboard boxes stacked underneath and behind my furniture, and also a dozen shoeboxes containing postcard announcements from exhibitions going back to the 1970s and up to the present: downtown, uptown, out-of-town, and elsewhere. What excuse do I have? Well, for one thing, I had studied Egyptian archaeology and much was made of the importance of primary sources. When I abandoned archaeological studies to write about contemporary art, my Egyptology professor asked: ‘How can you do it?’ ‘How can I do what?’ I replied, uncomprehending. ‘There are no experts, no references, no primary sources’, he said with consternation. And with all the presumptiveness of youthful innocence verging on arrogance, I proclaimed: ‘I will be the primary source for future archaeologists.’ I also admit to a bit of an obsessive streak, and no one ever taught me to throw meaningful things away. The Finnish artist Jussi Kivi collects everything and anything having to do with firefighting. I collect, or rather, accumulate historical art stuff that tends to get thrown away, the byproducts of my work as an art critic. But I do not collect everything, as a true collector would. Great quantities of press releases, announcements, and posters arrive in the mail that are of little interest to me. I recycle those. I save them for someone who has been compiling his own complete and cross-referenced archive of the art scene for the past forty years. Once a month he takes away a couple of shopping bags crammed with art ephemera. It pleases me that they too have been saved from oblivion. Text by Kim Levin

More

East is East, and West is West and never the twain shall meet

20 Feb

Helinä Rautavaara (1928-1988) made a career of documenting foreign cultures and religions. She travelled outside Europe as a reporter during the 1950s. Her travels to the Middle East and South Asia made these areas familiar to Finns through a series of colourful articles written for the Seura magazine. She also made her first radio and television programmes out of the material collected during these travels. Her subsequent travels added to her ever-increasing amount of photographs, super-8 films, audio recordings and videos.

 (…)

Helinä Rautavaara was first introduced to the Rastafarian movement during her trips to London and New York in 1980. She later stated that she had been dragged into the movement because of her African interests. Her ability to move naturally amongst a variety of ethnic groups also brought her closer to the representatives of the black consciousness movement.

In 1981, Rautavaara spent six months in Jamaica in order to familiarise herself with Jamaican syncretistic religions. She got to know a number of local Rasta communities and reggae musicians. She photographed and taped Rastafarian rituals, such as the ceremonies held in honour of Haile Selassie’s 50th birthday. She participated in Bob Marley’s funeral on May 21st 1981 at the National Arena. Rautavaara was initiated into the Rastafarian religion, and she sought to make herself known as Ras Benjamin.

 In 1991 Helinä Rautavaara made a short but consequential visit to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The objects acquired during that visit formed the core of her first museum.

(…)

In 1991 Helinä Rautavaara made a short visit to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The objects acquired during that visit formed the core of her first museum.

Helinä Rautavaara named her 400-volume library on Brazil as her first true collection. She often attached exotic stories to the objects she later acquired, even though the collection includes several antique objects bought from public auctions.

Rautavaara’s style of dressing in ethnic clothes and decorating her home in exotic styles was a reflection of both styles adopted from the 1960s to the 1990s and of her taste as a collector.

Rautavaara herself summed up her relationship to the collection with the following words: “I have never understood an object’s significance as an object, rather it has always been part of an entire culture, not to mention being part of a ritual associated with it.”

In 1991 Helinä Rautavaara rented a former shop at Ruusulankatu 8, Helsinki, where she opened her first private museum. The collections she held at home had been accessible to visitors, but visiting groups had also access to the new exhibition rooms. The Baga-Zombie Museum displayed ritual objects that Rautavaara had brought back from her short trip to Haiti in 1990. In addition, there were Buddhist, Mexican and West African objects, and a wall-size glass painting made in 1885 by the Belgian glass artist Jean-Baptiste Capronnier.

 The cataloguing of the objects began in 1991.  The Helinä Rautavaara Museum was opened on June 16th 1998.

 It needs to be said that not everyone was pleased with the guidelines of Helinä Rautavaara’s collecting activities and their success. For example, the public display of cult and Voodoo objects made a well-known Espoo artist publicly accuse the Helinä Rautavaara object collection of connections to Satanic worship. Rautavaara herself thought that art inspired by the numerous religions of the world should be respected.

Source & more info:  Glims & Gloms

Check also:  HELINA