Es / Sami Sänpäkkilä


Sami Sänpäkkilä is also Es who runs the ace Fonal records, and he makes short films.

Below is some text I wrote for Plan B when I was supposed to review a gig. So I'm not sure it got printed. But what's nice about putting it up here is I get to link it up to the short 16mm and super 8 films, lovingly converted into quicktime. And screen printed posters, and Fonal Jukebox (check TV resistori for good pop) and this way sincere adjectives such as 'mesmerising' can be bypassed for action. Great. So:

The Hague is a quiet city, a tram brings us to a basement next to a canal where the walls are filled with screen printed posters that remind me of Rhode Island. We're here to see Sami Sänpäkkilä of Fonal Records show us his films. Short experiments, each one a study of a certain condition; a description in repetitive image and sound, they have been called trances. A bearded Dutch man introduces the films, we understand nothing. The first piece starts and ends with a woman trudging endlessly through snow. The crunches can't be heard for drone, and outside thoughts spiral into the white. The pace then shifts dramatically for Hämeenkatu, where buildings flash past to loops of two warped tones. The facades are viewed as if they were a tree being encircled from below, and we are attached to an unravelling, spinning swing. The buildings are never entered, the night passes, and in the next moment we are on the edge of a forest. 'She puts out the fire in her heart with her tears' illustrates the portrait of a melancholic, grey pine forest. Denied entrance, we hover slightly above the tips of the trees, banished to its perimeter, doomed to pivot back and forth. Made between 2002 and 2005 on super 8 and 16 mm, Sänpäkkilä's films speak of an overbearing natural world, and its impenetrable physicality, a mesmerising accompaniment to his sound experiments.

This place in the Hague is called Helbaard and I think they might have screen printing facilities because they (I don't know who, yet) make these posters for their shows that remind me of the best Dernier Cri work:


building a fantasy landscape.

(outisde Platform 21)

So I decided to spend the hottest weekend of the year so far in the suburbs of Amsterdam, building a one metre representation of my fantasy landscape for an upcoming exhbition at Platform 21.

Here's what the front looks like. It started out as a geodesic dome, and the train (with a tiny camera on its front) will travel through it.

Here's Kim Adams' work in progress. We discussed eel pies and the Barbican ("ugly grows on you") during our modelmaking.

A mini report of day for Claire's Universe coming soon!


I asked friends for seven words on hot air balloons

(Piero Manzoni, thanks Wannes)

Balloon Flights From £95. Up! Away. ‘Up, up and away’, we cried, falling. 'Come fly with me, come fly away.' I had dreamt of firing the canopy. The storks had prevented our take off. Fifteen lackeys assisted us with the pump. The balloon felt a bit like cheese. Fun at first, then felt let down. Look what happens when I don't listen. It was more chilly than first expected. My destination is outer space, never returning. Oh the shame; our balloon would never land... "I'm not quite sure where it's gone." However, my friend's balloon proved more successful. The wall of the balloon cracked open. "Oh, the humanity! The humanity!" as commentary. Now we play under the North star.

seven weeks in rotterdam

Notes on walking:

The different parts of Rotterdam are connected by unfinished dual-carriageways and large patches of water. Silent, empty of people and badly lit. These large bits of land occupy a distorted portion on the map - I get lost in these void spaces regularly, and they are completely still. What kind of city has these vaccuums?

Crimson call the disconnected parts of the city "neighbourhood-modules" and have made a comparitive study of global post-war towns called the new town.

"Forced to find beauty in mediocrity, poetry in pragmatism, history in the absence of monuments and the future in the past, Crimson has been shaped by the experience of living and working in Rotterdam, the city that never thinks."

Funny that, it had crossed my mind today that I'm not thinking as much here. The distinct lack of stimuli on the street has something to do with it. I already inhabit one fantastical island - working in an international office where everyone speaks a form of english, and in that sense I could be living anywhere. Except that as soon as I step onto the actual street, I notice that I've never experienced this lack of richness. I'm living on a road that seems to be the local version of Kingsland Road in London, or rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud in Paris - all the bullet points of the fun first flushes of regeneration are all here, except I can't find the part that is exciting. And also, where is "the new" happening?*

Which brings to mind the "laboratory of indifference":

High pressure work in a low pressure city - OMA could never exist without Rotterdam, a city that has no scene, makes no demands, offers no distraction.

Mr. Koolhaas doesn't spend much time in Rotterdam these days, but I think he has a good point. It's not that there isn't anything happening here. It's just that it's hard to believe that the extra-curricular activity isn't pointless, due to the spatial infrastructure.

(artists blowing up chinese firecrackers at the Netherlands Architecture Institute)

I'll finish for now with Crimson's "Post-Rotterdam" panoramas, speed-history lessons on the constantly-changing landscape.

And an image of their "What If" exhibition, an imagined present-day Rotterdam if the WWII bombings had equalled Dresden, and resulted in radical urbanism:

(Next time I'll try and mention the eery mass of land that is the city centre.)

* This is an aside that require its own riff, and is also a curiosity that I am constantly trying to resist, and also blame London for. There are no fads here, so a part of my retina is eating chocolate, and for this I should be thankful.

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the dot and the line