Confessions of a turncoat
It is a popular belief that constancy of views and opinions does a person credit. Rigid and intransigent adherence to once assumed opinions is a reason for pride. If you fail to do this in politics, you are called - to use the term coined by political science - a "turncoat".
Turncoats, however, can also be found in other walks of life. The constancy of mind can be tested by asking, for example: "What do you consider beautiful?"
It is time for a confession - a public confession. I am a turncoat, I have been a turncoat and I will always be a turncoat. Let me be more precise, though. I am primarily (have been and always will be) an 'aesthetic turncoat'.
I suggest (and console myself) that within all of us there resides some sort of aesthetic turncoat. And only time evitable reveals this.
How many of us can wade through our collection of clothes worn in the past without feeling any shame? And all those photographs, including those which were never taken? Who would have the courage to wrap up in those fluttering garments and hairdos and assume those old facial expressions with pride?
Alas, our self is not the only aesthetic object we construct in order to merge into our environment: we also try to cherish aesthetic values in our most immediate environment, the home.
The illustrations in the interior design magazines of the '60s and '70s provide not only a stunning portion of everyday aesthetics, but also a cause for tormenting introspection. Those screaming colours, that television chair I genuinely admired as a small boy!
But is it merely a question of fashion, a matter of superficial everyday preferences? I am afraid that behind busying ourselves with these sorts of thing (the apparently innocent changing layers of clothes, the moving of furniture) only serves to veil the hideous secret: our inner turncoat. Not even serious aesthetic questions can escape from it.
One relatively large aesthetic object has made me tug my outer layers of clothing into so many positions for it to classify as demanding gymnastics.
First, I was enthused over Kiasma.
Or, did I take a fancy to those pungent tantrums already caused by the building project, thinking: good that the small-minded are shaken a bit.
Then I passed the site a couple of hundred times by tram. I could not help having disquieting thoughts: how will this turn out in the end? How about after a thousand tram journeys? Will I then desperately seek a seat on the other side of the tram, facing the Parliament building?
All of a sudden, Kiasma was finished. Refreshing, I reiterated to myself enveloped in winter slush. What did I say! I had the opportunity to visit the place when it was still empty. What forms, visions! I immediately began to cast my building-aesthetic coat into plaster - or rather straight into steel.
The museum was opened. There were a lot of people. I could not concentrate properly. I bumped into my architect friend in the throng. Emphatically, I began to praise the place, and then meeting with little response, I changed my tone to less emphatic. Finally, I fell silent and my friend remarked genially that even though the building was certainly very fine, did contemporary art really need a church around it?
I gulped, took a breath and changed my mind immediately: a good-for- nothing building. Good God, half of the walls were diagonal - how was anyone supposed to hang works on those walls?
One hundred and fifty thousands visitors later, I returned to Kiasma. To my astonishment, enraged crowds had not pulled the building to the ground. People are blind, I thought. I roamed around the building swearing that not even one technical defect at the museum would escape my keen eye.
Then something odd happened. An hour, no, several hours had passed and I had lost myself here and there. I had stopped to look at - this and that. Well, I admitted, the building cannot totally prevent the observation of works of art - at least in the case of an enlightened observer.
Then: horizontal rain for a couple of days. Kiasma happened to be built on my former cycling route. Pull down the beast! I shouted.
The next day, the sun was shining for fifteen minutes. It happened just at the moment when I was walking and turned to the north from the Post Office. I immediately decided to write a letter to the editor: "Would it be possible to build a Kiasma in every district of Helsinki?!".
It might well be that everything revolves: the world revolves, lives. And we ourselves, our coats and the museum live along with everything else.
Come and ask me about Kiasma. I might very well tug at my outer garments for a moment. But I do guarantee that then, finally, I shall take a stand.