ETHNOGRAPHIES OF A HOMESPUN SPINELESSNESS CULT AND OTHER NEIGHBOURLY RELATIONS | 2019–2020


31.1.–16.8.2020, Kiasma, Helsinki, FI


Gingerbread house

Bird spikes
sand bags homemade with ca. 80 % post-consumer textile materials, sand from Harjavalta
water and root-forming cuttings in glass containers
perforated air barrier building paper in roll-up stands
two-channel video installation with padded cables (HD, duration 19 min)
watercolour cut-outs on paper between two tempered glass plates depicting timber wall samples of woodworm Anobium punctatum’s presence
woodworm frass powder from the walls of the artists' house


Dead hedge

Portable geodesic aluminium ball structure
fallen branches


 


Houseflies gather round the laptop computer. I transfer them out one at a time in a 370-millilitre glass jar. This time of the year, all doors and windows are already closed, and flies must crawl inside through other cracks in the house. Air heated by the machine’s processor flows out from the ventilation gaps on the back. The screen is tempting, too, it is warmer than the surrounding space and with its lights may appear like some kind of passage. The two-winged critters don’t care about the mouse cursor’s movements, they just sit and rest, head down, and clean their frontmost pair of limbs by rubbing their feet together. Then they wash their faces, forcefully bringing their forelegs from the neck over the eyes and back again. Black, flexible, springlike limbs vibrate and are sharply etched against the UHD screen. A bunch of reddish-brown, fairly sizable parasitic ticks are attached to the abdomen of one of the flies, one hangs right behind the proboscis. I cannot tell whether this fly appears to suffer more than its conspecifics, which don’t appear to have visible parasites. Parasitic ticks, too, have parasitic ticks, and they have parasites. My sensory system is not at all capable of observing them. From a book on insects I find out that flies’ sense of taste is located in the soles of their feet. Immediately upon landing, houseflies know whether there’s food about and what it tastes like. In a pleasing spot, they vomit a protein-dissolving enzyme on their meal, and enjoy the mix with their sponge-like proboscis.

In October, a stable fly strays indoors. It lands on my sweaty back and sucks blood through the skin. It takes a few stinging rounds before I realise that the fly is eating me.