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10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 29 10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 29
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-05-20 09:30:46
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29. Coffee at Kiasma

Marc was fine with staying in the centre for a few more hours and I headed for the Kiasma museum where I was going to meet Helena. Kiasma has a nice café downstairs and I go there sometimes mainly because I can combine a coffee with a visit to the museum’s bookshop.

Art is a strange thing and builds a very personal and unique relationship with each one. I have a series of reasons I live nowadays in Helsinki with the main one being a five year-old princess but even if nothing had happened more than a decade ago I would have come again and again in this city for two very good reasons, one was Kiasma. Kiasma is the modern art museum of Helsinki and it is very unique in any aspect, from its architect to the exhibitions that change once, sometimes twice, a year. The first exhibition I’ve been in Kiasma was sometime back in late nineties and it had screaming as the theme.

Perhaps you are familiar with Edvard Munch painting, the Norwegian expressionist and the stories about the stolen painting. Well if you have seen the painting you can imagine how many artists from all kinds of art have been inspired from his work and when I say all kind of arts I mean even Rock music or photography and video. And in this exhibition, the first one I visited Kiasma there were works inspired by the scream. I was in awe, ready to start screaming! It was supposed to be a brief visit that would last for a couple of hours and it turned out to be a two days adventure. I just had to see it again and of course on my way out I had to get all the things I could get to remind me this visit not sure when would be the next time I would be back in Helsinki.

Kiasma causes different kind of reaction. Every time a friend visits me in Helsinki Kiasma is one of our first stops. Some of them trying to be nice and kind said good words about the whole thing and remember Kiasma changes its exhibits once or twice a year which means that none of them has seen the same exhibition again; but an hour later they felt ready to leave. Then there were the others who were ready to leave the first quarter complaining that the weather was causing them hunger and finally they were the few who shared my feeling about the museum. That doesn’t mean that all the exhibitions in Kiasma are good or that I liked them, as I have often point my self art is something very personal and you don’t have to like everything is titled art and yes Kiasma has disappointed me a couple of times but has really thrilled me most of the time.

My friend Gianni has visited me twice since I came to Finland and every time he is coming the first question he does after landing and make sure that I’m fine is when we are going to Kiasma and every time we talk on the phone he tells me in details what is in exhibit in Kiasma which is another prove how much internet has changed our lives. So here I was in the ground floor of the Kiasma café waiting for Helena and looking at Mannerheim’s status in front of a steaming cappuccino. Helena arrived and she was as always short breathing. This girl seemed to be running anywhere she was going and she was always short of breath, the funny thing about her was that she was always a few minutes early, apparently I was more than a few minutes early that afternoon; always thin making you suspecting that she might be anorexic with her very slim characteristics and a long face that looked like it came out of one of the el Greco paintings. Black coffee and a fresh orange juice were already on the table waiting for her since I’m quite familiar with what she likes.

“I’m going back!” she said before saying even saying hi. “We talked about it the last few weeks and we decided to go back!” back for Helena meant Greece and she was obviously not talking about holidays. Helena met Antti something like five years ago while he was on holidays in a Greek island. I suppose you know the story; Greek island, sunset and a couple of drinks and the holiday adventure became serious. First he went to Greece in the first chance for a long weekend and then she visited Finland for a few days and like it happens in these cases next thing he met her family and they started thinking of moving together, only for them moving together meant moving to a different country. And in Helena’s story that was Finland.

In Helena’s story everything had a very weird turn because days before she moved here, Anti had a tragic accident on his way back from work that let him nearly for a year in and out in hospitals with broken parts that endanger deformation so they needed to operate. The good news was, if you could ever call them good news, that the accident happened while at work, he was going for some kind of technical job to a customer so the company paid him full salary all these two years and his insurance paid fully all the operations so at least he didn’t have to worry about the money. And of course Helena moved to Finland and she became his private and devoted nurse. Amazingly the same time she gave birth to their first child a beautiful little girl that looked exactly like Helena.

After Antti recovered and returned to his work Helena started dealing with every day life in Finland and naturally she went out of the somehow protective environment she lived the first two years. Amazingly the first problems came from his family! Helena has a degree in literature and of course she carried the same handicap most of us who moved to Finland carry, she found difficult learning the language despite all the effects even with private lessons. She was never good enough to teach and of course the birth of her daughter made things more complicated. His family started nagging to him that she was not learning the language intentionally because she didn’t want to work and that started to cause a series of problems really out of the blue making her feel unwelcome in her own house that apparently was in the same neighbourhood with her sister in law who was leading the ‘lazy campaign’!

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