PETRI HYTÖNENThe Finland Phenomenon by Hytönen
Abroad I have learned to miss the straight talk of my homeland amidst all the rhetorical verbiage, the honesty - the almost foolish sincerity, the honest silence, the silence when needed, the natural nakedness, the wide open nature with its everyman´s rights, the extreme variations between the seasons, tap water that you can drink, salty liquorice, rye bread, peace, and direct unpretentious contact - that is, when it is possible to make contact…
Childhood in the centre of Helsinki in the ‘60s and ‘70s, youth and studies in Helsinki in the ‘80s, adulthood in the ‘90s and 2000s and parenthood in a small town - these have shaped my orientation between the city and the countryside. In the city I longed for the countryside, and in the countryside I yearned to be back in the city. By countryside I mean places like Somero, Kuusjoki, Salo and Lohja. When I was a child I got to see this region by participating in high jump competitions and football matches, with my nature club, on bicycle and by canoe. In my childhood, with my family, I discovered Finland´s unbelievable coastline and archipelago. This is a love that never dies and has continued with boating, canoeing, distance swimming and dreams of sailing…
The paintings, photographs, video clips and drawings that I have grouped under the theme "The Finland Phenomenon" are in part romanticism, nostalgia and strangely wonderful experiences of the relationship between man and nature, but they are also a social enquiry into a tiny EU Member State that is struggling with issues of inequality and change - amidst a world of unfathomable changes that is surrounding the inconsequential and increasingly silenced individual. People and their new values change day by day, the age of the city generation has been defined as 2 years, politics are doing somersaults, and the global economy can destroy a local company overnight, leaving in its wake a more self-destructive, depressed and penniless workforce. An uprooted workforce that drifts towards new urban spaces in search of work without any attachments to the place where they find themselves living.
"The Finland Phenomenon" explores an image of Finland that cannot be seen from a photograph or video alone. It is a filtered image in which I attempt to combine multiple contextual levels and create a new kind of interpretation and image of Finland. A Finland in which new themes have emerged: the class society as a new phenomenon; man and nature; sports and its side-effects as an interpretation of society; and tradition in relation to the present. It is a kind of magic realism in which fantasy and realism are combined on different levels.
I conceived this series by sketching with photographs, video, text, drawings and paintings, but in such a way that the end result is nevertheless a painting.
As an example of the random texts, I offer the following impressions of my sparsely inhabited, overgrown homeland. My homeland, where you could freeze to death getting lost on a freezing night, where you could make angels in the snow forever in minus thirty degrees under the starry skies while dressed in warm fishing overalls, where you could encounter a bear on the jogging trail, where you can experience a satanic ritual murder waking up in minigrip bags, where you can row for hundreds of kilometres over the lakes living off berries, mushrooms, fish and water without money, without computers, without mobile phones, where you can wake up beside the campfire surrounded by campers at an alternative campsite wondering who, what where?…, where you can drink homemade spirits accompanied by lively pals on the uphills and given a push for extra speed on the downhills, where you can go from the Salvation Army breadlines to the bars via revival meetings and bingo meets, receiving almost a complete dose of spiritual matters from salvation to damnation in a single day, where you can surf from revival meetings to Koran reading clubs via mediation camps, where you can thumb a ride in a Porsche and wind up in a superficial success story with all the trimmings and trappings, where you can sit in a cottage for just as long as you like without anyone disturbing you with their company, where you can sit dead on your home sofa as the last Mohican for months on end, where you can ponder the IKEA parking lot where families spend their summer holidays in caravans for just 10 euros a family including lunch and a couple of euros for breakfast, where you can encounter prospectors who spend their summers panning for gold in the rivers of Lapland accompanied by mosquitoes, where you can find yourself pondering the megalomania of the Ostrobothnians surrounded by nothing but the cloned unicorns and fountains at Keskinen´s manor house, where you can shop at the shopping paradise of Tuuri satisfying your hopeless need for existential meaning as a consumer, where you can ponder the amount of talking that goes on over mobile phones on public transport in the land of silence in two languages, where you can surf down sand dunes in the summer heat, where you can ride beer barrels down the Vantaa River surrounded by hundreds of others doing the same, where you can lie naked on the hot granite soaking up the heat, where you can run in the forest from one orienteering checkpoint to the next…Images in which metaphors are mixed up strangely together and new kinds of symbolic levels create the sense that, damn, more is happening here than I ever imagined. In the land of magic realism, wonderful strangeness, rugged beauty, disfigured life, darkness and light.