Kaarina Kaikkonen‘s A Waltz to Life – Valssi Elämälle is an installation consisting of 2000 used shirts mostly provided by people visiting Helsinki’s Didrichsen Museum. On display in the museum’s sculpture park from 19th May to the 16th of September, the celebratory event marks the museum’s 50th anniversary.
The temporary art work evokes a sense of merriment by taking hanging out laundry to a new extreme. Strung up among the trees it suggests campers gone wild, the remnants of a crazy initiation ritual, or an oversize garland concocted by some warped mind.
Flapping in the wind, the shirts’ colourful appearance also recalls the look of nautical signal flags – a pertinent analogy as the museum sits on the shore of Kuusisaari, one of many islands in Helsinki’s archipelago. This kind of art has its roots in the environmental installations produced by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, but most of their work wasn’t up for such a long period of time.
Now at the end of the summer the shirts have been well baked by the sun and tossed about by the wind. Some have faded and others have twisted round the cords from which they have been suspended.
Like once brilliant blooms, the shirts have served their purpose. Their presence no longer elicits surprise from passers by. For the time being, they have become an expected feature of the museum’s neighbourhood. But in a couple of weeks the installation will suddenly be gone. The trees will look bare. And then, for a short time, the much less colourful appearance of the park will also astonish.