Sasha Huber and Petri Saarikko are Helsinki-based artists who have been working on the Remedies project since 2010, exploring methods of self-help and medicinal healing in different geographical and cultural contexts.
For Helsinki Biennial 2023, the artists created a new site-specific installation marking the continuation of their ongoing project. The work was experienced by standing on the shore of one of the two freshwater ponds on Vallisaari Island.
Originally excavated by the army to serve as a freshwater well during Russian occupation, the artificial pond has since evolved into its own ecosystem, becoming an important hub for wellness, recreation, and joy for the inhabitants of the island – both humans and others.
The installation is accompanied by a short verse that raises questions about the landscape as a backdrop for human intervention. Is human presence an essential element of the island? Is it merely part of the riddle, perhaps a recipe, or a drug?
‘Sanctuary, mist’ presents an existing pond landscape on Vallisaari Island; an uncanny misty substance may appear on the surface of the water in a seemingly natural landscape – on an island that has been shaped by multiple histories of intervention, contamination, use and misuse, but is now experiencing a period of recuperation.
Mist invites a variety of interpretations. It is a slowly amorphing sculptural element that we invite the audience to see as a suggestive narrative. Is the mist part of the landscape, a speculative phenomenon, or another story altogether? How did it emerge in the first place, how does it shape the view and the atmosphere? Do misty particles find their way inside our bodies? The underlying theme of ‘Sanctuary, mist’ refers to an ancient idea of recuperation – pharmakon. It is where nature becomes both a source of remedy and a potential poison, dating back to the early origins of medicine.
Why are you here
From blur to clarity
Resolution to safety
Eternal summer days
Sediments of time
Sea of unseen seasons
The source of life
Mist on your palm
Dripping past to present
A pond within a cell
Inside your chest
Poison and cure
Vices and sweat
Breath of life
Waiting in eternity
– Petri Saarikko
With this project, Huber and Saarikko have been invited to take part in exhibitions and artist residencies around the world. They began with performances, videos and publications titled Huskurer Remedies (2010-11) in Sweden, and continued with further versions in Aotearoa NZ, twice in Australia, Haiti, Germany, Latvia, USA and Finland.
Different iterations of the Remedies have been shown at venues including the Oberhausen Film Festival (2017) and the 1st Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art – RIBOCA (2018).
installation (mist, pond, water, landscape, text)
Comissioned by HAM/Helsinki Biennial 2023