Visual artist Nastja Säde Rönkkö is working on her piece 6 Months Without, as a Somerset House Studios’ resident in London. During the project she spends six months without the internet and explores alternative forms of citizenship and forming communities. She describes the experience first two months.

What is interesting in the theme?

“Privacy is a hot topic. People are concerned about how much personal data they’re giving to social media companies, and the effects of being available all the time. I’m interested in the ways in which the rapid development of technology and the internet has impacted our understanding of the world and humanity. How they have changed our communication and society?”

You’re organizing three seminars during the residency. One of them was few weeks ago. What was discussed there?

“In the first seminar, I wanted to look into  both sides of the internet. Are we all addicts? Is using the internet good for our brain? How much money is spent on developing social media platforms as hooking as possible? On the other hand, internet connects people and enables the creation of new platforms for activism. The second seminar, which focuses on what’s wrong with the internet and how to change it, will be held in January.”

What’s the best about being offline?

“It is the highlight of my day, when the mail arrives. It is touching, that people send me mail, and pay me a visit. The most interesting case happened, when a sound designer from Hailuoto sent me a package without a returning address. Luckily Hailuoto is a small island, and I got into contact with her, by only a name.”

How have people reacted?

“When I tell that I’m not using the internet, the fact is bypassed or not believed. Either people forget it, or they can’t understand that I’m really offline. It is also usual, that people think that I’m just not using social media, or on the contrary, not using technology at all.”

What does it feel like being without internet?

“It feels very good. I’ve realised, how much time I spend on the internet. Even though, it makes working more effective, I always get sidetracked. During these past few months, I’ve read lot. It is relieving to concentrate only for one thing at a time, without interruptions. The only negative feelings are related to practical things, which have been hard to solve without the internet.”

The Finnish Institute in London is supporting the residency and production of the documentary which is made about it.

You can send mail to Nastja by address:

Somerset House Studio Resident G17, New Wing
Somerset House Strand
London WC2R 1LA

The second seminar is held on 31.1.2019.

6 months without, Somerset House Studios, Lancaster Place Entrance Strand, London WC2R 1LA. https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/residents/nastja-sade-ronkko. 1.10.2018–31.3.2019. Admission: free.

Text: Anna Suoninen


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