Säde Huussissa (Säde in the Finnish outdoor dry toilet)), 2023
Burned spruce boards, magnet, magnetic sensor, computer, projector
“Säde Huussissa” is an ongoing project of an interactive video installation, nestled within a wooden framework that mirrors the dry toilet at my partner’s grandparents’ summer cottage in Sänttio, Varsinais-Suomi. From the title of the artwork that could not be translated and capture its meaning, it suggests that there is a dual or layered meaning embedded in the artwork, particularly in the context of Huussi and the intertwined family archives of my partner and me.
The installation comprises five videos, each randomised when the audience enters and closes the door. These videos were created over my studies since 2020 and are titled ‘Mind the Gap,’ ‘My Childhood Home,’ ‘Family Flashbacks,’ ‘Your Name, My Last Name,’ and ‘Untitled.’ The five videos included in this installation show the connections to my identity, memory, and family relationships. Each video presents a fragment of my time and life.
Mind the Gap: This video reflects my experience of learning Finnish, I found a lot of similarities in pronunciation between Finnish and Malay, the latter being one of my native languages. As a Malaysian, I was born in a multiracial environment, in which people very commonly mix up different languages, such as Malay and English. It challenges the audience to notice when I mix up Finnish and Malay.
My childhood home: The video shows moving pictures from my current home in Helsinki, Finland, whilst the voice-over talks about my childhood home in Selangor, Malaysia.
Family Flashbacks: This video is about going through family photos, placing myself in an old family photo, and revisiting and discovering memories I cannot recall.
Your Name, My Last Name: Interweaving the footage I took with the slide photo from my partner grandparent tends to create a connection different timeline of the same space.
Untitled: The zoom in view of the huussi at Santtio, Varsinais-Suomi. The viewer is invited to see Mannervesi on a peaceful morning through my eyes.
After each video plays, the title of the video is displayed, followed by the post-credit scene featuring the portrait of the huussi in Santtio. The post-credits scene includes various shots of the huussi, including its overall structure, silhouette, and close-up corner details, providing an in-depth look at the huussi.
Säde, not just my Finnish name for me, it is also a gesture to show my integration in Finland culture for the first year when I started my Finnish language course. Just like everyone has an English nickname when they embrace the language. It was suggested by my partner and seamlessly resonated with the English nickname I have carried since the age of sixteen. *In Finnish, “Säde” means “beam,” capturing both the artist’s name and the radiant projections within.
By quoting my partner’s family mundane dry toilet architecture as an origin to re-narrate my research on identity, family archives, and the interplay between various familial and cultural connections. It may have been influenced by my father, who once built the house we used to live in in the middle of a farm, or by my previous major in sculpture. Wood carving, my primary medium for the past five years, naturally made simulating and constructing this huussi became the primary task for this research project. While taking measurements and gathering additional information about this huussi, I discovered a lot about family events beyond the huussi’s physical appearance.
At the same time, I engaged in numerous conversations with my dad regarding his early architectural experiences. For instance, this huussi was constructed by a friend of my partner’s grandparents, who had seen an A-shaped design during his travels abroad during 70’s, finding it eye-catching and thus choosing to build the huussi in this unique shape. Inspired by this interview, I questioned my father about his youth as a construction worker in Brunei. Oddly, I, too, briefly worked as a construction worker in Singapore and Dubai. Therefore, in tracing my partner’s family’s mundane architecture – the huussi, I am continuously projecting my own family events as well. I wanted to create a personal and intimate environment, inviting viewers to authentically experience the spatial-temporal tunnel of the video installation.
Huussi’s doors act as interactive buttons that activate video elements when the viewer enters and closes the door. The entrance to the installation is so small that viewers must bend to enter Huussi. It created an environment in which I hoped to act, serving as a metaphor for the fundamental conditional threshold that new immigrants must cross to integrate into the new country they wish to resident. As an ongoing project, “Säde Huussissa”, continues its role, serve a continuation project for my Master research and thesis. My hope is to clarify on the weight of these absences and the untold stories they hold, as I continue to reveal in the curtain of my family history. For this reason, I wish to delve deeper into my family’s absent archives and even the non-existent archives.
The artwork was featured in the BFA Exhibition 2023, 11.9-15.10.2023, as part of the BFA graduates’ degree exhibition organized by the Academy of Fine Arts at Uniarts Helsinki.