09. May 2020

Roi Vaara (b. 1953, Moss) is a pioneer in performance art and a forerunner in video, installation and collective art. His critical point of view is to challenge the way we are looking at things, and he often explores existential issues. Since 1988 Vaara has been active in an influential performance collective Black Market International whose mode of operation of its durational performances is based on the free and open exchange of ideas. In 2001 Vaara organised the largest performance art festival in the world, the EXIT festival in Helsinki.

Roi Vaara writes to us for the project from Budapest, where he is currently staying. “As the pandemics hit, it was quite shocking to me. I couldn’t continue with my art as I was forced to better understand the bigger picture around this theme. So, I’ve spent most of my time reading articles and publications on the internet. What an amazing thing this internet is! So much information is available just in a click (as long as technics are working). So, being at home has been just fine for me. The bigger picture what I’ve found so far is alarming, to say the least.

I’ve learned so far that viral pandemics are closely linked to climate change as the root cause for both of them is the same: missing forests/crisis in biodiversity. Biodiversity is a pivotal prerequisite for life on the globe. As biodiversity is scarce, we are the only targets left for viruses. Viruses are a kind of unknown territory to scientists so far, and there are more protean viruses than stars in the universe. Nature is a far more complex interconnected system that we’ll ever understand.

The uninhabitable deserts cover 2/3 of the globe. They are all man-made. We are confronted with the greatest challenge we’ve ever faced so far: we are obliged to pay back all our misconducts against life, and it’s conditions on the global scale. We are forced to change our mindset completely, and reforest the deserts as soon as possible among other things, if we would wish to stay here longer.“

For the project, Vaara sent a work of three photographs of the action he made over the weekend in his home studio apartment. The action reflects his thoughts and feelings in this challenging time. Title of the work: Reflection.

Budapest, 09/05/2020

Artists Respond project was started by the Institute for the Research of the Avant-Garde and the Marinko Sudac Collection. Addressing the current global pandemic, the project aims to virtually present the thoughts and attitudes of neo-avant-garde artists, their energy and the message they have for the present moment. This is the moment in which the world as we know it is on hold and the moment in which we need optimism and solidarity more than ever. We wish for the public to welcome the creative energy of these artists - artists who are ready to point out the state of things, to respond with art and creativity, as they have done in all difficult times in the past.

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