Just the other day we were writing about the frictionless aspect of contemporary writing on this very blog. Were we not concerned about the way Helsinki’s own little village voice* bandies about language as if the national media were just sharing a bit of ephemeral fluff for clever kids to play with?
Serious architecture writers will, theoretically speaking at least, have their work cut out for them once Helsinki starts to develop its waterside, like Jätkäsaari below.
Architecture critics are not a massive professional group, particularly not in Finland, and many of them don’t earn their daily bread from what they write about buildings and urban design. Someone who apparently does rely on fees for articles researched and written is our old friend Arkkivahti, whose recent blog waxes angry as well as amusing on the injustices of a media system (she starts, unsurprisingly with said village rag*) that allows commercial interest (writing sponsored by construction firms) to trump journalistic values. She even has a go at Jorma Mukala, chief editor of the wonderful Ark-magazine, for admitting in the interview conducted by said village rag*, that it’s actually necessary to take up construction firms’ offers of overseas travel to learn about new architectural sites.
Someone who gets to travel in search of such sites is another old friend Jonathan Glancey. Writing about the Venice Architecture Biennale, his words eerily echo some of the themes we’ve been thinking about over here at Jees Helsinki Jees recently. Here are some fragments of his text in Building Design 18.05.2010.
“incomprehensible or ineffably banal …” “For one baffled moment, I thought the show was being curated by Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard rather than the Pritzker Prize-winning Sanaa architect Kazuyo Sejima. Asked to explainthe 2010 show, Sejima says: “The idea is to help people relate to architecture, to help architecture torelate to people, and to help people relate to themselves.” Or, as Pollard herself would have put it: “Yeah, but no, but yeah…”
Then there’s the Italian pavilion’s exhibit, called:
“AILATI: Reflections from the Future”. Che? I mean, you what? The name, in case you didn’t get it, is “a play on words, a reversal of the country’s name that opens up a new reading of contemporary architecture in an original and sideways glance at objects, reality and designs.” Va bene! The first section of the show is called “Amnesia”. Mercifully, I’ve forgotten what the other two are.”
Finally, we learn of a bubble-gum factory. A highly recommended read folks.
* Helsingin Sanomat, daily established in 1889 under the name Päivälehti, current circulation about 400 000, readership closer to a million. People boycotting it or annoyed with it, unquantifiable.