Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A night of witchcraft

Apparently one night of the year Helsinki lets its denizens stay up and out a little bit longer. The Night of the Arts.

Being a complete noob to the city I had no idea this existed until it was already into the night (admittedly I was being a nerd and reading the first part of the evening, waiting for Hong Kong P to get out of a dance class so we could watch some dominoes fall in the Senate Square... ...I'm actually not kidding). Little did I know, that original plan to watch giant dominoes was part of the Night of the Arts and just someone had failed to send me the original memo.

As luck would have it, we missed that event (something something lazy and having to work late, misunderstandings and no big deals), so Hong Kong P suggested I look at the event page and pick something else for us to do for the night.

Ohhhh smorgasbord.

I had no idea that the Night of the Arts was so big. But man, it was big. Basically every art gallery, museum, live play, fashion house, or anything to do with arts of any kind (and even some that had nothing to do with arts) was doing something that day/evening/night. Take a look for yourself:

Night of the Arts List

Massivore of a list.

So I started scrolling, and 20 minutes later when she called me to ask what I wanted to do...I still hadn't finished looking through everything.

But at the very least I had seen two things that had caught my eye: the first was a festivus of weird religious arts at the Russian Orthodox Church (that's just what I do...can't stay away from cathedrals to save my life, haha), and the second was a very weird exploration of the dark underbelly of electronica.

Hong Kong P was clearly more interested in the second (most people of sound mind would be..well, actually now that I look at that...probably debatable).

So we met at a cafe and waited for Finnish J, then set off to HÄXXXAN (seriously, that's what it was called...which is oddly pronounced, "hacks-on"...not how I imagined it).

The Facebook event for this page described it as thus: "Inspired by Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 silent film HÄXAN – Witchcraft Through the Ages we present you an audiovisual journey to the dark side of the human mind, from the dark middle ages to the midst of a modern dystopian landscape."

Clearly artsy-fartsy talk for, "we will set up a projector screen in the middle of the industrial section of town and play dark electronica."

And that's exactly what they did.

And it was actually pretty cool. Or at least the music was. Deep, ambient, it reminded me of a lot of the music I used to listen to during my more contemplative years of high school. Very cool stuff. And it was all being done live - there was a woman singer and her accompanying DJ mixing it all right there. None of this premixed stuff.

The audiovisual accompaniment, on the other hand, was a bit lackluster and cheesy. "Inspired" was very loosely meant. If this was from the 1922 silent film then it only took the parts that had dialogue because most of the visuals were clearly from badly done softcore burlesque porn and homemade witchcraft videos which were montages of various blinking eyes, hands, and candles. The only parts of the film that were recognizable were the occasional bits of dialogue (since it was a silent film the screen sometimes flashed things like, "Release thee of the devil!" and such) or clips of priests or nuns looking surprised. Not particularly related, if you ask me.

But the experience was still very cool. There was a small fire poi show as we arrived and generally speaking people got into dancing once the music hit a certain chord. It was located near where Flow Festival had taken place, though more out in the middle of the rubble of construction, which is apparently where a coffee shop (fairly well known) usually resides during the day (though I could see no hint of it that night).

All in all a very excellent time. We took the metro home and chittered amongst ourselves about how glad we were to have seen it.

Thanks Night of the Arts, for showing me something new. :)

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