We were assigned to the Vivola farmstead, 90 km from Helsinki. I was playing in the yard when I heard a humming sound. It was a Soviet airplane with red stars on its wings. I got scared, we had already been under air attacks. So, I hid in my cabin expecting a bombardment.
Petrozavodsk suffered air attacks: we witnessed 2-3 bombardments. There were shelters to hide in when we heard the air-raid warnings. We made bindles with documents and essentials to take to the shelter. We went off on 20 August. The town was taken on 1 October.
There are many places in Helsinki that still retain traces of World War II - scars of grenades and bombings. Do these traces have some value for collective memory? History without memory is as unreadable as a flat wall made of granite. There is nothing to hook on to.
The act of climbing for me is a way of understanding. As a Russian with Finnish roots, I think of the complex relationships between these two countries on a very personal level. During the war, my grandfathers were literally on opposite sides of the border. One was witnessing the bombardment of Helsinki by the Soviets while the other survived under the Finnish army air attacks in Petrozavodsk.
I climb these traces in an attempt to understand these complex relationships and let the rain wash away chalk marks left after my grips.
The Climbing a Memory project was started in the year 2018 in the frame of the public art interventions series Microsites Vallila. In spring 2021 the project was continued as a part of the Kuvan Kevät 2021 exhibition. The manifests itself in three different directions: online - as the online guide www.climbingamemory.com, outdoors - as a series of performance interventions in public space and indoors - as a series of exhibitions in the gallery spaces.
The first indoor implementation has taken place during Kuvan Kevät 2021. And the second gallery implementation was presented in October 2021 in the Project Room gallery. The series of performances have started in 2018 and still continues.
Please follow the online guide on www.climbingamemory.com to make your own path through the Climbing a Memory project