Photos: HAM/Kirsi Halkola
A new public work of art by sculptor Tiina Raitanen has been completed in Telakkaranta in front of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), at the intersection of Telakkakatu and Munkkisaarenkatu. The List, a sculpture more than four metres tall, consists of shapes leaning on each other and standing side by side. The shapes are based on objects abandoned as insignificant found by the artist at the worksite of the Chemicals Agency, such as a part of an old hinge, a piece of plastic, a nail, sanding paper and an unidentified piece of metal with the patina of age. Based on these objects, Raitanen has implemented the work using stainless and acid-resistant steel, aluminium, bronze and concrete.
In The List, Tiina Raitanen has scaled up her artistic method, in which she makes moulds of and casts found objects using different techniques and compiles them into sculptures.
Some of the objects have only recently ended up at the worksite of the Chemicals Agency in connection with the renovation work, while others have been a part of the structures for decades. When enlarged, the shapes become abstract. They have, at some point in time, had a specific origin, material, production process and purpose for a while. In the sculpture, some shapes lean on each other, while one stands independently further away. They form an assortment, a kind of list.
The content of the work has been influenced not only by the history of the site but also by its present status. Tiina Raitanen says: ‘The Chemicals Agency acts as a data repository and intermediary. The design of the sculpture depicts the layered effect of information and the importance of keeping systematic records. Legislation aims to protect humans and the environment from harmful chemicals, whether they are industrial chemicals or daily chemicals in solid, soluble or aerosol form. The different shapes and materials in my sculpture reflect the great diversity in chemicals.”
The materials of the sculpture have different characteristics. Where acid-resistant steel lasts for centuries in varying weather conditions, the shine of aluminium becomes cloudy over time due to the effect of a surface layer of oxides that protects the lower layers from corrosion, and the patina of bronze keeps gradually changing. Concrete lets its surroundings breathe through it. The sculpture appears different at different times of the year and in different light. The shiny steel surface reflects the ECHA building and the daily life of the area with people passing by. At the same time, the work reflects itself as its parts are mirrored by the shiny surface, creating an internal world of lights and reflections in the work.
The City of Helsinki adheres to the Percent for Art principle, which means that approximately one per cent of the City’s new construction and renovation expenses allocated to infrastructure and real estate are dedicated to the creation of new public art. In recent years, extensive construction efforts have made it possible to commission art for many public buildings in Vuosaari, Pakila, Myllypuro and Kumpula, among other areas in Helsinki. HAM Helsinki Art Museum serves as an arts expert in these projects, and the works are added to the City of Helsinki’s public art collection managed by HAM Helsinki Art Museum.