Juha Valkeapää, vocal artist from Finland, fell in love with Rome after spending a week here in March. The previous visit was 30 years earlier and this time he had his recorder with him, ready to work! Having heard about the draught in Rome, of course the two first days here it poured down. Under his umbrella he went around Rome and recorded water, fountains and nasones.
His initial plan was to find the speaking statues, statues that during the 1500´s were used for epigrams with satirical poems about the pope, church, politics and much more. He managed to find them all, but they did not speak! Nevertheless, he was already smitten with Rome and with a thought about a project about water, he applied to Circolo Scandinavo and was accepted.
At Circolo, he is working on composing water and for the moment he has about 15 different examples. He is also reading a lot of books about water and for his project set to be presented in 2021 he has contacted 2 other artists and a researcher in hope of a collaboration. Valkeapää is hoping the project could be set in a space like a planetarium and it would involve at least sound, images and live performances. He is trying to see water from its own perspective instead from a human perspective, but it has proven to be difficult since one is only human.
His favourites in Rome are, not surprisingly, water related. The river is a source of inspiration and admiration. During his visit in March, the river bank was flooded and could not be visited. Luckily this November he has been able to walk along the banks during his morning walks. The colour scheme of the buildings with their red, yellow, orange, ochre and brown are also something he enjoys. The different parks with tall trees and passages to get lost in and of course the cheap but tasty espresso you enjoy while standing at the counter makes Rome a special place for Valkeapää.
If you ever find yourself in Helsinki, Valkeapää suggests you enjoy the water there as well. Go to Suomenlinna, the 18th century sea fortress a short boatride outside Helsinki to enjoy the scenery. The other islands around Helsinki are also worth a visit. And while you are at it, take the opportunity to go to a quartier sauna, and have a chat with the locals in the hot steam. Afterwards you can enjoy some fine coffee.
Interview by Oona Haapamäki