An Paenhuysen
The Making of NÄET -
Art Fair Suomi Magazine

NÄET Issue 1
Photo: NÄET

Art Fair Suomi first came to my attention in November 2018. I was in the office space of MUU Galleria and the following message was pinned on the blackboard:

Note Market Place Kuva: An Paenhuysen

I’m a fan of small things like little thoughts, micro-stories, and islands. But when “MUU writes” and I discussed the upcoming Art Fair Suomi 2019, we decided to publish an art magazine, which was a big idea.

Island Shapes2 Foto: An Paenhuysen A coffee cup Foto: An Paenhuysen Art fairs and art critics don’t seem to be the greatest match. Their coming together mostly results in a top 10 list of the best gallery booths or the newest trends in art. “Can it be different?” we asked ourselves over coffee.
A few months later, in late April 2019, a creative writing workshop took place at MUU Kaapeli to stimulate ideas for the magazine. Outside the fishermen were fishing for herring and inside the writers were doing their thing.

The Meeting Kuva: An Paenhuysen Talking about the art on our walls, Minka and John admitted they were “postcard people.” John wrote a story about one of his postcards, depicting Alex the Holy, a street figure in 1970s Toronto: “On an art school trip to New York City, I came across a postcard of him in a Soho bookshop. It was a B&W image of him sitting in a Yonge Street doorway. The picture was a puzzle as it showed him holding a postcard. The very same image he was holding, I also held in my hand.”

Alex the Holy Kuva: John Gayer On the second day Yasushi Koyama didn’t show up. Instead he sent his cat. The cats also ended up in the art fair.

The Cats Kuva: Arsalan Mohammad On the third and last day of the workshop it was sunny and suddenly the trees started blooming. Also the wind surfers came out on the water. I was told that summers are short in Finland. “The summer was nice and I actually enjoyed the whole day,” Liisa laughed.

The Sea Kuva: An Paenhuysen In Finnish one says “it has been weather,” which doesn’t mean that the weather has been good or bad but it’s just a way of starting a conversation. This is similar to the title that we decided upon for the magazine: NÄET. You see, NÄET means nothing much and escapes translation. Also good art tends to escape you.
Naet Magazines Kuva: An Paenhuysen This year, Art Fair Suomi’s focus was on Italy. So for the second issue of NÄET I asked Silvia Hell and Helga Franza of the Milan-based Cose Cosmiche “What can a focus on Italy reveal?” Silvia and Helga answered: “We can’t say that until we see a focus on Finland!”

Silvia and Helga Kuva: An Paenhuysen Art fairs are a lot about meeting people. In Finland, they don’t say “networking” but they call it “mingling”, which is much more charming and even has a Finnish sound to it.

Rita Leppiniemi Photo: An Paenhuysen

At the entrance I met Rita Leppiniemi, artist, writer and also the coordinator of NÄET, who was on her way to a sound workshop.

Elina Brotherus with Marcello the Dackel Photo: Arsalan Mohammad

I also met Marcello the Dackel upon entering the cable factory. In his company was Elina Brotherus, the artist behind the photo that features on all the flyers and posters of Art Fair Suomi 2019.

Blindman Photo: Blindman When you visit an art fair, “aesthetic fatigue” is bound to happen: your visual tolerance level has reached a point that you can’t see anymore - at least no art. Maybe that’s what Marcel Duchamp’s art newspaper The Blind Man referred to when it was published in 1917 in the context of the Independents exhibition in New York.
But there’s also what Katie Lenanton, curator of the kirppis at Art Fair Suomi, calls that “spark of magic we chase and rarely find.”

Something sparked for me at The Room Below, a Japanese-run art organization, showing letters written by Shinji Yamashita. Yamashita lives in a welfare facility and the clerical staff is at a loss on how to send his letters to addressees they can’t read.

Das Kunstwerk von Shinji Yamashita Foto: An Paenhuysen It only dawned to me later that I should have asked for the price of a letter. Because the price might be doable, which is the great thing about Art Fair Suomi in the first place.

And our magazine? You can download it here for free!