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A new public video art work from Jani Ruscica for Central Library Oodi


Karri Buchert

Central Library Oodi will receive a new work of art, when the video piece Hope is the thing with feathers, commissioned according to the percentage financing principle, takes over the information displays on 5 October 2019. The work by artist Jani Ruscica (b. 1978) features a coal tit, song thrush, hazel grouse and common teal on their visit to Oodi. The animated birds will move around the architectural space within the library and offer visitors an out-of-the-ordinary, alternative experience.

The work comprises nine short, 16–34-second videos that pop up on the information displays from time to time between notifications and event information. The delicate soundscape of the work consists of birdsong and noises made by the movements of the birds.

Four of the featured species are known to have nested in the Töölönlahti area and moved a few kilometres north due to construction in the area. However, these species can still be found nearby. Ruscica says he wanted the birds to visit the building before it became a library.

Ruscica and his team photographed the interior of Oodi for one day during the final stage of construction and the furnishing of the interior. The material for the work was only photographed using natural light, and you can see that the photographs were taken during a dark time of year by looking at the work. When Oodi is opened, the lighting offers visitors a new experience. The contrast with the atmosphere of the video work and the everyday visitor experience is great.

The name of the work, Hope is the thing with feathers, is taken from the 1862 poem of the same name by Emily Dickinson. According to Ruscica, this choice of name refers to all the cultural content that Oodi serves. The artist is also interested in the different ways language and figures of speech resonate in time, even across hundreds of years.

The work will be unveiled on 5 October 2019, after which visitors can experience it on the information displays in Oodi. You have the chance to meet the artist during a discussion event organised by Helsinki Art Museum and Galerie Anhava in the lobby of Oodi from noon to 1 pm on Saturday 5 October 2019. The discussion will be held in Finnish. Jani Ruscica’s private exhibition Human Flesh is on display in Galerie Anhava 3–27 October 2019.

The City of Helsinki adheres to the percentage financing principle, which means that approximately one per cent of the City’s new construction and renovation expenses 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 Jätkäsaari, Vallila, Kalasatama and Yliskylä, for example. HAM Helsinki Art Museum serves as an arts expert in these projects, and the works are added to HAM’s art collection.

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