Slow room is a series of projects and multimedia installations around the act of sewing, the spaces of confinement and ritual, and time. Through visual, performative and dialogical processes I investigate assumed social roles, ideas of judgement, social and antisocial being, as well as personal and collective boundaries.
This body of work will explore common rituals like keeping holiday homes or tending to a grave. I am interested in the spaces where these rituals happen, and how it affects our identity and how the body needs to adjust to accommodate for these. As people, no matter where we are from, we are united by a ritual even if are not together.
Public office, Limerick, Ireland, ca. 2012
Тогда мы идем к вам
Then we are coming to you
In Russia in the 1990’s there was an advertisement on Tv of Tide detergent. The storyline went so that there were two kids sitting on the staircase of an apartment block building. Apparently, they were told to leave the house and their mother is “boiling”- washing clothes in a large pan of boiling water, heated on a kitchen stove. “Boiling” is a well-known practice that bleaches the clothes and returns them their whiteness. I still use this method of doing laundry in my home in Finland regularly. So it goes on - a man appears on the staircase and he is holding a box of Tide. He is there to demonstrate to the mother that it is possible to achieve this pure whiteness by simply washin the garments in the right detergent. The tagline goes as follows: “Are you still boiling? Then we are coming to you”.
Privacy of personal dwelling is a fundamental human right. It is unsettling to imagine that someone can just open the door and come into your home. However, the practice of carrying out searches in people’s homes as a way of threatening and intimidating citizens has been a common practice of police forces. This is often a first step before somebody is arrested or charged. People’s homes are being searched, people are being searched, their belongings and their bodies touched by force. The process of cleaning references the act of destroyin evidence, getting rid of information, something that can be used against you. Time is a currency, luxury, and a curse.
This performance is part of a body of work I am currently developing which has a working title of Slow Room. Slow Room is a series of projects and multimedia sculptures that explore textiles, spaces of confinement, and time. They are focused discipline and judgement and guilt.
Looking seeing and turning away. Loneliness. Boundaries.
I look into collective rituals like keeping holiday homes or tending to a grave, muscle memory which we embody through our actions and thoughts. Boredom and ordinariness, not dreary, not beautiful, but kind of normal things are what interests me. Bluntness and the everyday. Uselessness and the capitalist stat of objects and people being useful, functioning, working.
This work was presented on November 8th, 2019 at Museum of Impossible Forms in Kontula, Helsinki as part of Performance LAB, which a platform for experimental performances and hosts artists, poets, dancers et al to make live art pieces. This session also included contemporary dance pieces by Kathleen Heil and Yin Cheng-Kekot. The event was joint with Improv Sessions, a platform for experimental sound and improvised music invites two guests Andrew Bentley and Anu Keski-Saari who played solo pieces (approximately 20 minutes each) and then a joint improv set (aproximately 20 minutes), followed by what we called 'Blinddate Improv Jams'. The idea here is that many of the audience, who are recurring members of this monthly event, will ask you and each other to play short 5 to 7-minute improv jam sessions for the remainder of the evening
I am very grateful to be invited and to share space with these wonderful artists.
Roihupelto, Helsinki, January 2020
Slow room is a series of projects and multimedia installations around the act of sewing, the spaces of confinement and ritual, and time. Through visual, performative and dialogical processes I will investigate assumed social roles, ideas of judgement, social and antisocial being, as well as personal and collective boundaries.
The collective process of sewing has been practiced for generations and centuries. I have a fascination with it as it can be both the most enjoyable creative activity, and well as used as punishment and means of enslavery - in prisons and sweatshops. This potential violence of an ordinary recreational process in a shared environment is the key concept of my current artistic practice.
I use a needle and thread and other sewing and mark-making tools to record our environment. These objects will be on view during the exhibition. They are tactile, the audience is invited to touch the pages. This quality is becoming obsolete and almost scandalous in the times of covid19 pandemic. The fabrics and other materials that the books are made from allow for them to be washed and ironed.
Hand dyed using natural materials found at home like coffee and tea and frozen berries and beets leftover from dying Easter eggs.
I use these sketchbooks especially when traveling or camping and for this reason I look for ways to create lightweight, compact sets to take with me. I reappropriate old tins and cans and plastic bags, and use camping equipment such as Swiss Army knife as the tools for working. Taking the ideas of plein air and the self-lead residencies that Russian artists of the 19th century created for themselves by going to the countryside for the summer months, this series of sketches will be carried out during camping trips in 2021. The activity of going away to a wild nature is something that I experienced all my childhood.
I am constantly in the process of developing a kit, a set of materials and tools that I carry with me. The use of a variety of shapes and textures draw from open-ended toys and games for children, including the techniques and the aesthetics of Waldorf toys.
This project is about how we view and see the world around us. I investigate the ways we observe our environment. This is why they are called sketchbooks, as means to record quickly and boldly our environment, or contemplatively and slowly the images in our mind. These books reference guide books of places of local and historical importance. I have a collection of these and have always been drawn to them. This is a way we collect and document what is considered important about a place.
Venäjän tiede- ja kulttuurikeskus, Helsinki, Fabric book workshop with young people, 2017
Prison Outside is an independent international artistic research project focused on imprisonment, justice, and the role of the arts in the relationships between people in prisons and people outside. We are interested in perceptions of incarcerated people and ex-convicts in society, and how we can break the stereotypes and support each other. We focus on artistic practices, be it prisoners’ own initiatives or designed educational projects that promote self-expression, solidarity and communication between people of all walks of life.
Prison Outside was founded in 2015. Since then I have worked with many artistis, communities and institutions, including Helsinki Prison, Esitystaiteen Keskus, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, and Aalto University to name a few. Since 2017 Prison Outside has been collaborating with Translation Is Dialogue project and its author Arlene Tucker, working together to create the ongoing art exchange and interactive exhibition Free Translation.
Prison outside (Vankila ulkona) hanke on keskittynyt vankeuden ja oikeuden teemoihin, sekä taiteen rooliin vankilassa ja vankilan ulkopuolella olevien ihmisten suhteissa. Olemme kiinnostuneet vankien ja ex-vankien käsityksistä sekä havainnoista yhteiskunnasta, ja miten voimme murtaa stereotypioita sekä tukea toisiamme. Keskitymme taiteellisen työskentelyn menetelmiin, niin vankien omiin aloitteisiin kuin suunniteltuihin koulutuksellisiin projekteihinkin, jotka edistävät itseilmaisua, solidaarisuutta ja kommunikaatiota erila
Prison Outside on itsenäinen taide ja tutkimus -projekti, joka on perustettu Helsingissä vuonna 2015 visuaalisen taiteilijan Anastasia Artemevan yhteistyössä paikallisten ja kansainvälisten luovien ammattilaisten, tutkijoiden ja kouluttajien kanssa. Visuaalinen taiteilija ja kasvattaja Arlene Tucker liittyi hankkeeseen vuonna 2017.
Nykyiset projektimme ovat online-alustan Vapaa käännös - Free Translation - ja siihen liittyvät työpajat, blogin Prison Space, jossa kirjoitamme vankeuden ympärillä olevista taiteellisista projekteista, ja Prison Outside kansainvälisiä konferensseja Helsingissä. Olemme tehneet yhteistyötä sellaisten organisaatioiden kanssa, kuten Kriminaalihuollon tukisäätiö, taidekoulu MAA ja Moskovan valtion psykologian ja koulutuksen yliopisto.
Независимый научно-творческий проект Тюрьма Снаружи был основан в 2015 году. Он объединяет художников, музыкантов, преподавателей и исследователей. Мы изучаем темы социальной справедливости, лишения свободы, и роль искусства в отношении между людьми в тюрьме и за ее пределами. Объектом исследования являются как практики, инициированные самостоятельно, так и образовательные и культурные программы, которые проводятся организованно. Мы также исследуем отношение общества к заключенным и судимым людям, стигматизацию, и помощь в ре-социализации. С помощью нашей деятельности мы хотим поделиться опытом проведения социально-ангажированных художественных практик в во всем мире.
С 2017 года Prison Outside сотрудничает с проектом Translation Is Dialogue и его автором Арлин Такер, работая вместе над созданием продолжающегося художественного обмена и интерактивной выставки Free Translation.
Free Translation / Свободный перевод
Translation made with Mikhail Agafonov’s group on his visit to correctional facility for young female offenders in Russia. Интерпретация, выполненная на мастер-классе Михаила Агафонова в девичьей воспитательной колонии в России. - Words and Image, 2019
Free Translation is a multi-disciplinary exhibition showcasing international works generated from an open call to incarcerated people, ex-convicts, and anyone affected by imprisonment. It premiered at MAA-tila in Helsinki from November 15-29, 2018 as part of Prison Outside #2, and has since been showcased in Bokvilla, Helsinki and in Moscow State University of Psychology and Educaiton, Moscow, Russia. The exhibition also exists as an interactive online platform.
Free Translation exhibition makes use of the translation process as we interact and create new artworks in the gallery space and online. Your works on view will encourage the audience to prompt dialogue, inspire thoughts, and creatively activate the space. Your voice is heard and recognized.
The call for artworks is ongoing and open to all ages.
Your artistic contribution is very much appreciated. Works can be emailed to email@example.com or mailed to:
On the online gallery under each picture there is the possibility for you to interpret or comment on that piece. It can be in text, visual, or video format. Your translations and interpretations inspires more thoughts, feelings, and perspectives to be shared and to be sparked.
In our monthly Free Translation Sessions we first view and discuss the artworks of Free Translation exhibition. After our own artworks are created by means of interpretation or translation they are subsequently uploaded to the exhibition website. There they can be viewed by authors and the public, who will be able to create own response. To participate in the meeting, artistic skills are not required, and all materials are provided by the organizers. The “translation” will serve as inspiration for new feelings, thoughts and perspectives, and the creative interactions will continue.
To keep up to date on Free Translation happenings, please check
Free Translation is a collaboration of two projects; Prison Outside & Translation is Dialogue (TID). Prison Outside is an independent international project founded in 2015. The research behind this project is centred on the subjects of imprisonment, justice, and the role of the arts in the relationships between people in prisons and people outside. Inclusivity and spaces for listening are at the core of our project. Its focus is on artistic practices, be it prisoners’ own initiatives or designed educational projects that promote self-expression, empathy and communication between people of all backgrounds. It also offers a platform for production of artistic projects related to imprisonment, currently with a focus on Finland and Russia. We believe that there needs to be a cross-border conversation about incarceration. Translation is Dialogue (TID) is an art curation that generates a new project every time it is presented. This is due to the fact that every showing, the participation of new people, the medium they choose to express themselves with, the context of their creation, and how art inspires them changes. TID originated as an academic paper and presentation at the Art in Translation conference in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2010. It has expanded to interactive installations, exhibitions and performances, as well as educational workshops. Each phase of the TID series strives to challenge existing accessibility, dialogue, and participation in multidisciplinary art and the multiple languages in which we ingest and conceive; translate and share them. Contributing artists have come from the Americas, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, as well as Eastern, Central and Western Europe, and Scandinavia.
Poikkeustila, Martial Law2017
I’ve heard that it was prisoners who built these trenches, for if the war comes to Helsinki. But what prisoners? Where did they come from? Where they Russian or Chinese or Swedish ? Where i lived in Katajanokka there was a prison. Now it’s a hotel, isn’t it?
Collabortiave art project produced by artist Anastsia Artemeva and collaborative media art residency m-cult, about common (his)tory between clients of Kriminaalihuollon tukisäätiö (Krits) and local folks of suburban neighbourhood of Maunula, Helsinki. Krits is an NGO that support people in prison and their families, and through the project Maalinnoitushanke employes men who are currently on probation or are nearing the end of their prison sentence to restore the WWI trenchers around Helsinki.
After the Russians left, and the Finnish state announced independence, the government and the people began to take the trenches down and use the valuable materials to build homes. The blew metal roofs off their paces, leaving the bunkers exposed. The Reds attempted to re-appropriate the trenches as hiding places, but the lack of professional soldiers in their groups meant they could not hold for very long.
Photography Vesa-Pekka Grönfors
Under an old house there is a storage room for cannon ammunition, which is still completely intact. There are two rooms, a window between the rooms, rails and concrete walls - all are still in place. The owners use it as a root cellar. They keep preserves there. Raspberry jam mostly.
Screenplay, design: Anastasia Artemeva
Sound design: Johannes Vartola
Voice: Anna Rawlings
Markku Heikkinen, Helsinki city museum
Anastasia Artemeva & m-cult / Kaisa Kukkonen, Minna Tarkka
“I found the trenches project (Maalinnoitushanke) to be an excellent idea, as it both takes care of urban environment, and focuses on mental welfare of convicts, and I am very excited to be a guest in it. I see my role to suggest and facilitate a broader engagement with the place. I am also excited to introduce the Trenches project via Martial Law to the people who cannot physically go there to see it, or mentally feel separated from the prison folks due to the stigma attached to incarceration.
I have a particular interest in Patterimäki because it has no obvious famous history. It was built (as the story goes) by Chinese POWs shipped from Siberia to protect the Russian Empire from German invaders. Yet no battles were held, and there is no heroics acknowledged. It is in a way a blank canvas, a space we can project our own ideas of protection, containment, identity.
Based on the wishes and interests of the participants, as well as certain restrictions naturally coming while working with institutions, this collaborative project will employ different media. Personal stories, historical facts and scripted narrative merged through storytelling.
The collaboration turned out to be not only about the actual physical exchange of art works but also exchnage of our life conditions. It has become a lot about restriction, protection and fear. For example, the concept of anonymity that was borrowed from the Krits group and then presented to residents of the old folks’ home, and a dicussion followed as we made masks to hide our own identity. These masks were later worn by children who came to visit the site.”
Please read the full interview in Finnish and learn more about the project here.
Collaboration with Steve Maher
Deep in the valley of Helsinki, hewn into the very rock itself, lies the ruins of an ancient and mysterious archaeological site. Its true purpose is unknown, however many believe when it was built it signified something of great importance for the valley's inhabitants. The site and its layout bare potentially some sort of geometric or astrological parallel in which a ritual practice was likely performed. It is hypothesised that practitioners and pilgrims alike would traverse a set of challenges laid out within the space in order to prove their worth. The remains of roughly nine monuments can be found on the site, artifacts unearthed in the area have lead theorist to believe that using a short cudgel like object those participating in the ritual would manoeuvre a small circular white object through many perils and pitfalls. The outcome of the ritual we can only speculate, however we can surmise that the pockmarked holes on each monument served as some sort of receptacle for the small yet significant object. This major historical site may lead us to rethink the origins of mankind.
The remains of a mini-golf course, possibly built in the 1950s, lie on the verge of the Helsinki city district of Laakso and its Central park. According to a source in the Helsinki Sanomat it was originally built by the Kristillinen Teekkariyhdistys for the people of the local area. Over the course of almost 70 years the site has fallen into disarray, with the last game of miniature golf likely to have been played there over a generation ago, slowly the forest is reclaiming this site making the delineations of its former purpose seemingly kabbalistic or esoteric.
Through a recreation of a hypothetical interactive miniature golf obstacle within the exhibition space functioning as a backdrop to a video work about the site the artist duo of Artemeva and Maher present a question about our associations with history, camouflage and triviality.
Leviathan is a dual show concept by Steve Maher and Anastasia Artemeva, in which the gallery of Oksasenkatu 11 is re-configured as the digestive system of an imagined leviathan, delving deep into the depths of the galleries core, basement level, the audience will be immersed within an artwork installation through the arrangement of lighting, sound, scent, video and objects.
Ambergris (A substance used in the perfuming industry, originally harvested from the stomachs of whales burning in and oil burner
Leviathan takes advantage of Oksasenkatu’s unique gallery layout as a space with basement access, Oksasenkatu 11 is a deceptive space, architecturally it is much larger than initial perceptions.
Throughout literature and mythology the leviathan re-occurs as allegory. In some tales it is a beast of sea, a giant fish or whale. In others it is an organisation, something which underpins the fabric of our world, engulfing it, consuming it, becoming a world itself. From the biblical parable of Jonah to the folk-tale of Pinocchio, the individual consumed into the depth of a beast who must escape or live for the rest of their days struggling against the digestive acids wishing to consume them re-occurs time and time again. Its origins are thought to have come from the oldest known tale, the epic of Gilgamesh.
The reality of being consumed by a giant whale or sea creature is far less fantastic. One is more than likely to succumb to drowning, asphyxiation and the grinding of teeth before one would ever manage to construct a crude shelter within made of shipwrecks and flotsam. There is one supposed case of a “real world Jonah” in the tale of James Bartley although nautical historians have since disproven what clearly began as drunken embellishment. The reality of the cetacean beings which inhabit these planets oceans are not the gigantic monstrosos which litter our mythologies, the reality is incredibly complex social animals who everyday come closer and closer to extinction.
Mikko Niemistö: BirthdayVisual design for a solo performance
”Starting from a melancholy party preparation, Birthday transforms into an increasingly intensive one-man revelry…Each object has a specific energy and they have a life of their own: the guitar plays itself, the coffeemaker grumbles rhythmically and the ball of ice tied to a fishing rod melts.” -Maria Säkö, Helsingin Sanomat 24.2.2017
Birthday is a dismantled solo that aims to break down subjectivity and expand agency from the performer to a collection of personal everyday objects and natural materials. The performance becomes a ritualistic creation of worlds and landscapes both within the human body and in the shared space of the performance event.
Photo: Saara Autere
Birthday is an assemblage of human and non-human materials, movements and memories that reside in the border between control and freedom. The choreography comes together through a composition of rhythms that the collection of mechanical and natural, organic and synthetic elements produce.
Concept, choreography and performance: Mikko Niemistö
Visual design: Anastasia Artemeva
Sound design: Johannes Vartola
Mentor: Maija Hirvanen
Birthday premiered as part of Mad House Helsinki’s 4th season 22th February 2017 at 19.00.
Other performances: 23th and 24th February 2017 at 19.00
Photo: Saara Autere
Se syntyy kun yksi kiinnittyy koiran remmiin, joka soittaa kitaraa ja kitara soittaa yhtä.
Se syntyy kun yksi hengittää lampun ”on” ja lamppu hengittää yhden ”off”.
Birthday on tila, jossa erilaiset käyttöesineet, luonnonmateriaalit ja kehomuistot asetetaan vuorovaikutteiseen suhteeseen. Esitys liikkuu tietoisen ja tiedostamattoman, orgaanisen ja synteettisen, rytmiikan ja melun rajamailla, Se on joukko asioita, joiden läpi vaikutteet, muistot ja energiat virtaavat. Se on epäsymmetrinen kokoonpano jonka sisällä yhteydet särisevät, purkautuvat ja ovat jatkuvassa liikkeessä.
Birthdayssa koreografian annetaan olla häilyvä, passiivinen, laiska ja kohiseva, mikäli se niin haluaa.
Mikko Niemistö on helsinkiläinen esitystaiteilija ja koreografi. Hän tutkii ihmiskehoa samaan aikaan syntyvänä ja kuolevana, epästabiilina, hajoavana sekä tilaan ja esineisiin levittäytyvänä. Toimijuuden alkuperä ja häilyvyys, ihmisen ja tilan muodostama ruumis muutoksineen sekä kehon ja erilaisten materiaalien välinen yhteys ovat hänen taiteellisessa työskentelyssään keskeisiä. Hän on kiinnostunut kohinasta, joka voi edustaa yhteyksien häilymistä, toimijoiden ja objektien rajoitusten paljastumista, kommunikaation vaikeutta sekä marginaaliin jätettyä.
Konsepti, koreografia ja esiintyjyys: Mikko Niemistö
Visuaalisuus: Anastasia Artemeva
Äänet: Mikko Niemistö ja Johannes Vartola
Mentori: Maija Hirvanen
Cover image: Saara Autere
Diptych, Hand printed, Gelatin-Silver print, 130 x 107 cm each
Limerick School of Art and Design Graduate Show, June 2012
This is an interactive artwork where both prints are versions of one image, a computer-generated QR code readable with a digital device. Having been distorted though the manual developing process, one of the prints is scannable while the other one isn’t. Here traditional techniques of the analogue photography are opposed to the recent fascination with interactivity and the physical, cultural and personal restrictions faced in endless choices of today’s world. The piece also intends to challenge the definition of the end product of contemporary art and the multiple possibilities of meaning we are doomed to face when reading an artwork. The concept is influence by the ideas of Kazimir Malevich (1879 – 1935, Russia) who encouraged the abandonment of the representative art form, as well by Peter Weibel (b.1944, Ukraine) who investigates concepts of art, democracy and the global media.
Taking the research in civic-minded street art as well as the science fiction writings of George Orwell and Yevgeny Zamyatin as a starting point, the intention was to apply current communication technology and its vocabulary to the off line space. It is an attempt to insight contemplation of inter-human communication issues and to draw parallels as well as highlight the cause and effect of our preoccupation with the so-called social networking and the substitution of the real with personal electronic communicative devices.
In May 2012 another strand of the project was presented in a art festival called CatDig, curated that year by Lotte Bender in Limerick City.
During the two-day event, things like T- shirts, Hats, Fridge Magnets were given away and also stickers were distributed ,things that frequently made to carry an emblem of a certain team or corporation, things that have no real value but act as advertisement, things that we all like to take for free. Each object carried an image of a QR code, which can be scanned with a smart phone. When scanned, texts such as “This Doesn't Lead Anywhere”, and other phrases to highlight the disappointment of an online detachment would appear on the smart phone screen.
There were also stickers with QR codes placed on the buildings, lampposts and refuse bins on the street.
Each item was individually made and possessed a unique code on it, with a unique corresponding sentence. With the intention to distribute as many things as possible, the objects were placed on tables set up in various locations on the street throughout the two days and visibly stated that they were free to take.
Another strand of the project is a social intervention Vanity Case 2012.
During this project, around 30 handmade labels bearing QR codes were produced, decorated and pinned to clothes in second-hand charity shops in Limerick, which are quite popular amongst the locals, regardless of their income. The idea is that one buys some donated goods and the proceedings go to a specific charity.
When scanned, the codes read
Can you really not afford a brand-new one or does charity make you feel good?
The intention of this piece is to evaluate our relationship with charity shopping, when we get to buy affordable clothing and donate money for charity, kill two birds with one stone so to say. Myself, I’m quite fond of the bargains, even antiques affordable for me due to the ignorance of the volunteer shop assistant. But how good is it really? The artwork questions the mission, the clientele and the necessity of such an establishment.
Do we care what charity it is that we support? Is there any other way to support a charity and lead a sustainable lifestyle? Is it too much to ask? Is it enough? The sentence on the other end of the QR code is quite brutal, but only someone in a possession of quite an expensive mobile device one can read the barcode to see what it says. The juxtaposition of the advances of technology, including the damage the production of the gadgets causes the environment, and the need and the want for charity shops seems absurd.