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‘A Cave for Play’, a Group Show Organised by Sakari Tervo at Leikkiluola, Helsinki

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Aki Turunen, The Spring Fantasy, the brimstone, 2014
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Aki Turunen, The Spring Fantasy, the brimstone, 2014
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Arttu Merimaa, (Untitled), 2017 work from the series “Grandfather’s Leather Club”
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Arttu Merimaa, (Untitled), 2017 work from the series “Grandfather’s Leather Club”
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Corinna Helenelund, Extended Blue, 2018
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Corinna Helenelund, Extended Blue, 2018
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Hermanni Saarinen, The Rest, 2018
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Hermanni Saarinen, The Rest, 2018
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Johanna Härkönen, Trinity, 2018
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Johanna Härkönen, Trinity, 2018
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LM Salling, Day Job or Mickey With Broom, 2017
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LM Salling, Day Job or Mickey With Broom, 2017
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Lukas Hoffmann, Untitled Remote Control, 2018
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Lukas Hoffmann, Untitled Remote Control, 2018
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Man Yau, KNIGHT, 2014
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Man Yau, KNIGHT, 2014
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Milena Huhta, Whitehead Gag, 2018
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Milena Huhta, Peach Sissy, 2018
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Niina Tervo, Amphibian, 2017
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Niina Tervo, Amphibian, 2017
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Raimo Saarinen, soft pale pink, 2018
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Raimo Saarinen, soft pale pink, 2018
When bored, we can try the trampolines. There, freeing oneself from gravity’s pull, we acquire a miraculous freedom – momentarily – to become someone or something else: a bird, a buffoon, a boy wonder. But it’s hard work to keep oneself in the air. Eventually, we run out of breath as our body reminds us that we are land beasts, not birds.

It is not, though, weightlessness itself that allows us this momentary freedom: it is the magic of trampoline from which this miraculous sensation emerges. And what is a trampoline, it’s magic? Yes, serious gymnasts use it as a tool, but for others – the rest of us – it is a toy. Unlike toys designed for our use, trampoline uses us: the hard work put into our fleeting aerial metamorphoses is work in which we try to adapt to the strange laws of nature governing the trampoline. Within its frame, we walk and talk differently; we become creatures marked by its circle of magic. As a toy, the trampoline offers a passageway to things otherwise; fragments of fantasy.

Walking around this underground playland, one finds metamorphoses of various kinds that do not settle with one particular meaning. A tree has become a roundabout, a slide waves like the sea. Panels depicting ruin-like walls covered by vegetation camouflage the structures of a dizzying maze where, upon entering, one easily loses the sense of direction. In this realm of play, every object evokes multiple uses, inviting us to find out what might these uses be; to find out three ways into and four ways out from the labyrinth. Like the trampoline, the playland uses us: it provides a time to adapt oneself to strange things, to imagined worlds covered in bouncy plastic and shine.

It does not come as a surprise, then, to find these artists wandering around the cave, playing with the frame that the playland itself is. We seem to be looking for an emergence: an alchemy that turns the artwork into another kind of work, a work marked by magic close to the momentary weightlessness experienced in the trampoline. As gravity eventually pulls us down, the artwork returns back to its own realm: surely it is not a toy. Nevertheless, marked by play, these works participate in an emergence of other worlds within this world of fleeting fantasies. What was a faux ruin now serves as a stage for artworks worked by bodies that this place puts to work; a momentary stage for possible metamorphoses. A layer after layer not of meanings, but frames, circles of activity and work.

Like in an exhibition, we might expect to be shown things in this playland. But we also know that play can shelter, offer a camouflage, and store secrets. What disguises what here, underground? Surely the artworks stick out: they seem to be out of place. And yet, momentarily weightless, they blend into the play, showing themselves only otherwise. We see play, a time for play, mere time. A deep, heavy breathing follows. Catching our breath, we return to the ground, this time above it.

Corinna Helenelund, Lukas Hoffmann, Milena Huhta, Johanna Härkönen, Arttu Merimaa, Hermanni Saarinen, Raimo Saarinen, LM Salling, Aki Turunen, Niina Tervo, Man Yau

Text by Juuso Tervo

Photo by Otto Byström, Sakari Tervo and Lukas Hoffmann

Leikkiluola is a playground built in a bomb shelter under the Hakaniemi marked square in Helsinki, Finland

Leikkiluola

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