Nastja Säde Rönkkö is working at an artist residence in the Wysing Arts Center near Cambridge for six weeks with a support from the Finnish Institute in London. Wysing Arts Center, which was founded in 1989, has received resident artists for almost twenty years, says Donna Lynas, head of the Arts Center. Cambridge is a half an hour drive from the village of Bourne where the arts center is located. It is surrounded by quiet fields and deciduous forests, which is ideal for concentration, says Rönkkö.
“I wanted to spend my time here reading and doing research for my new project. The isolation really helps me focus. Time moves differently here than in the city. “
Rönkkö got her Master’s degree in Arts from the Slade School of Fine Art in 2011. After graduating, she has been involved in many international projects, most notably, being a member of the LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner – collective. Her collaboration with Shia LaBeouf (USA) and Luke Turner (UK) exploits video technology, photography and social media. Their aim is to stimulate discussion about social relations and trust. In 2017, the trio created the piece #ALONETOGETHER for the ARS17 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Kiasma in Helsinki, which gained notable media attention.
The Finnish London Institute funded a 45-minute documentary film about the 2016-performance take me anywhere, which will be shown at the Manchester Film Festival on the 2nd of March 2018. In the project, the artists hitchhiked individually in the United States and published their position coordinates on social media. Anyone had the opportunity to pick them up and take them as far as they wanted.
Rönkkö feels that she is, above all, a performance artist. She rather thinks in terms of performances than video. Her works are usually born outdoors.
“I’m only in a studio for research and design, really. I shoot the footage out in the nature or in the city. “
The themes of trust itself, and trust in other people are important to Rönkkö. Living with other artists in the Wysing residency has widened her understanding of communities. Many of her works are based on trust and explore how we interact with other people. She now consciously strives to go out of her comfort zone.
“Discomfort is interesting. It forces you to look at the world in a new way. I’m looking for contrast and challenge through challenging themes and locations. “
Rönkkö has already reflected over the state of the Planet in her earlier work for those yet to be. In her video art, Rönkkö carries signboards in endangered natural environments, where humans have made the conditions worse, such as the Amazonian Jungle and Arctic Canada.
“Signboards are not excuses, but maybe rather apologetic messages – ways to try to explain what our society has been like before.”
Studying in London and working in artist residences abroad have challenged Rönkkö to network and participate in artistic debates on important issues.
“I identify myself more as a global than a Finnish artist. I also believe that artists may have a certain lack of roots. “
Projects in collaboration with artists from different countries have been a way of expanding her circle.
“Sometimes I have thought that collaborations should have a planned structure from the beginning, but even small projects with other artists can be really good and surprising experiences. Working abroad is truly a privilege, but on the other hand it’s also about about the essential hunt for opportunities. To manage and succeed, you need hard work, and a bit of good luck. “
Interview and photo: Leena Vaskin