Helinä Hukkataival, a visual artist and performance artist, has been to Circolo five times already. This time she is staying at the residency for two months. In February and beginning of March she has been working on two projects, both of which she already started working on the previous time she was at Circolo. Now she is back at the residency to finish the projects.
The first project Helinä has been working on is a video project with the theme Martha, who is a woman doing all sorts of everyday tasks although she would like to be like the biblical Maria, who wants to study. The project was shot at Fontana dell'Acqua Paola up on the Janiculum Hill right behind Circolo. “It is a beautiful location and the light there is fantastic” Helinä says. The previous time Helinä was filming there, she was doing embroidery while sitting in front of the fountain. It was on a weekend and all of the sudden a newlywed couple came to the fountain to take their wedding photos.
Helinä just kept doing her performance while on the background the bridal couple and their guests were taking their photos. She was happy when she finished the performance. But when she checked the video at home from a big screen, she noticed that the picture was not sharp, and it was a little hazy. She felt like she did not want to use the material but now she has changed her mind and she wants to see if she can use it anyway. This time around she wanted to film something new to combine with those old videos and that is what she has been working on in February and March and with the same filming location.
Her other project is to take more photos for an upcoming exhibition that is going to be at the Photographic Gallery Hippolyte in Helsinki in the end of this year. She has already some pictures from the previous stay, but she wants to take some more photos here in Rome for the exhibition.
What inspires Helinä most in Rome is the combination of many layers of history and the present time, which can also be seen at Circolo. One of the reasons she keeps reapplying for residency at Circolo is the idea of the residency being like a home where you meet artists from different fields and from different Nordic countries. Helinä reflects on how she doesn´t really spend time with artists from other fields back home in Finland, “you are always with the artists from your own field” she adds. Helinä also reflects on what it could be like in other residencies like Villa Lante here in Rome or at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, but she has never stayed in them since she feels so comfortable here at Circolo. Helinä points out the importance of the staff of Circolo being available for the artists every day. She likes that the staff provides the artists with all sorts of information she would not otherwise know, everything from everyday life in Rome to openings and exhibitions in galleries and museums.
Helinä’s hometown Tampere is a little town compared to Rome. Since the history of Finland is completely different from the history of Italy, there are not really old buildings in Finland, for example like the building where Circolo is located today. Helinä mentions that she only travels for work and she does performances all around the world. She travels for short periods of time and when she is at a location she generally concentrates fully on her projects but she also feels that it is important to meet locals and see a bit of every place. In Rome, Helinä really likes the neighbourhood Trastevere, and she doesn´t feel so much being a tourist anymore. Because of that she sometimes has to remind herself that she in fact is a tourist, who also wants to see and experience the sights of the city. After the residency period is over Helinä is going to Chile and Argentina for a performance festival where she will also give lectures and hold workshops.
REMARK: This interview was made before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in Italy. All artists, Helinä included, had to leave Circolo already in the beginning of March. Helinä’s trip to Chile was also postponed.
Text and photo: Tinja Räsänen