Look at this poem:
Strange, I had words for dinner
Stranger, I had words for dinner
Stranger, strange, do you believe me?
Honestly, I had your heart for supper
Honesty has had your heart for supper
Honesty honestly are your pain.
I burned the bones of it
And the letters of it
And the numbers of it
That go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
And so far.
Stranger, I had bones for dinner
Stranger, I had bones for dinner
Stranger, stranger, strange, did you believe me?
- Jack Spicer
The poem paints ambiguous, mealy relationships between characters such as ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘Honesty’, ‘Strange’ and ‘Stranger’. I want to digest these in my own art. The poem generates, in me, an experience of connection: a shared interest in surreal relations between characters, human or non-human.
I grew tired of planning and executing projects, and started to paint every day without predetermination. Figures started to materialise on paper, and I gathered scraps of older works around them, like recycled landscapes. The figures are my companions, and I followed their ways when making this exhibition. I do feel responsible for what these characters are like and what they do, the way they are, naked or clothed, the way they represent differences in human bodies.
There are moments when I feel cultural and societal norms are pouring into my paintings, and then other moments when my paintings seem like manifestations of another, freer, delish reality. One figure repeats the convention of a slim femme posing for the viewer, another one rejects realism in showing the internal organs of two people connecting. The third figure is half human, half plant. I’m curious about what the characters will say to you, Stranger: will it be something different to what they just whispered to me?
Red gouache is a character in these works, too. Gouache, sometimes called body colour, is paint made with pigment and gum arabic, also used in icing, fillings, soft candy and chewing gum. Red gouache is not blood red, even if in my paintings it sometimes represents blood. Painting with it is like eating a hearty meal, Pizza Marinara.
I thought of this exhibition as something, or someone, that I am feeding with the fruits of my daily practice. When you, as a visitor to the show, step inside, you will feed on them, too. That feels stimulating and vivid to me, as if I’m a cow feeding a calf, giving nutrition from my warm body. The parenting cow also needs to eat and ruminate: I’ve been feeding off spring life in Vilnius, off other people’s paintings and writing, off collective and personal dreams and consciousness. Even if I might never meet you, Stranger, in my mind I am feeding on you as well; off your responses to these works.
Whatever the feeding scenario might be, it can never fully satisfy. I keep making, and I keep feeding.
Anni Puolakka (born 1983 in Oulu, Finland) is based in Helsinki and makes performances, videos, installations, drawings and texts in which situation-specific or documentary materials are incorporated into fictional worlds. Their solo shows include Oestrus at Polansky, Prague (2020); Parasitia, 427 gallery, Riga (2019); and Degradia at Sorbus gallery, Helsinki (2018) among others. Puolakka’s works have recently been shown at BOZAR (Brussels), PLATO Ostrava, W139 (Amsterdam), Kiasma Museum of Modern Art (Helsinki), Baltic Circle festival (Helsinki) and Performance Space (Sydney). They have an MFA from the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and teach at the Aalto University amongst other places. Puolakka co-organizes the feminist, sex positive festival Wonderlust. More information: https://annipuolakka.com/
Anni’s work and travel to Vilnius is supported by Finnish Cultural Foundation and Frame Contemporary Art Finland.
Editorial is supported by Lithuanian Council for Culture and Vilnius municipality.
Gallery name: Editorial project space
Address: Latako g. 3 , Vilnius
Open: 03.06.2021 - 03.07.2021