In a Musty. Misty Thicket
Maarit Suomi-Väänänen: In a Musty, Misty Thicket (Pöheikön Hönkä)
2012 Short film
Down in a mysterious, musty thicket on a deserted island,
a pot is bubbling over a smoking campfire,
around which Pik Mama and Missy are spending a hic-day in the forest.
Weird and uncanny things are going on…
|Pik Mama||Appe Vanajas|
|director, script, edit, scenographer, production||Maarit Suomi-Väänänen|
|assistant director||Ville Väänänen|
|special effects make-up&creature||Salla Mäntymaa|
|special effects||Konsta Mannerheimo|
|sound design||Kyösti Väntänen|
|editing||Ville Väänänen, Heikki Kotsalo|
|graphic design||Ville Kiiski, Medusa.fi|
EMARE Media Artists in Residence,
Bandits-Mages / Jean-Pascal Vial
|format||16:9 anamorfinen PAL|
|sound||5.1. multichannel audio, 2.0. stereo|
|original name||Pöheikön Hönkä|
|exhibition||Mänttä Art Festival Finland (Mäntän kuvataideviikot) 12.6.-31.8.2011|
|screening||Grand Detour, Portland, USA + retro|
|tv||YLE Finnish Broadcasting Company|
In her latest work Maarit Suomi-Väänänen, lingering at the crossroads of film and media art, gets close to the skin.
In a Musty, Misty Thicket (2011) continues with the same wastelands esthetics of Up and About Again (2009), which made use of cinematic special effects: explosions, pyrotechnics and artificial snow. In a Musty, Misty Thicket does the same at micro-level: by using special effects make-up and special effects creatures and by directing the dance and performance artists’ language of movement and form, Suomi-Väänänen creates an open narrative structure where communication is conveyed not by speech but by the surfaces, movements and gestures. Signs and traces on the skin such as scars, tattoos, burn marks, stains and bruises tell a wordless story of the past and the present.
In some ways In a Musty, Misty Thicket is like a silent film, but in addition to its unhinged expressive structure, the strongly played-up soundscape – insects, audible bodily functions and music – does its own tricks to the story: what we hear isn’t always what we see. And then we start to see differently: the mind, tuned into a primitive mode, starts to read the subtle but crookedly humorous story of a child and a narcissist parent.
Suomi-Väänänen approaches her duo, Missy and Pik Mama, who live on a desert island in the middle of a gravel pit, like an anthropologist, applying the concept of thick description, launched by Clifford Geertz – reading signs, gestures and sounds and describing them in a kind of overly realistic way, so that the result is, instead of a Platonist clearly delineated idea, a myriad of caves, crannies, dim boundaries and inconsistencies, which are not explained away or reduced. Instead of explaining, Suomi-Väänänen contextualizes – the signs and sounds reveal cultural and social practices and models, which in all their scrubbiness and scruffiness reek of real life. Relationships always have their own crisscrossing causal directions, tensions and reverse sides, which also deserve to be pointed out: for example, the relationship between Pik Mama and Missy is festered by selfishness, dominance and envy, but it also reflects a unique sense of affection and caring. It’s an eternal dilemma: independence of one means loneliness for the other.
Up and About Again and In a Musty, Misty Thicket are the first two, independent parts of Suomi-Väänänen’s trilogy exploring cinematic special effects. Tuned into her twisted sense of humor, we are left to wait and see what absurd and atavistic visions Suomi-Väänänen will offer us in the third part.
Otso Kantokorpi, critic and curator. DVD cover text.
In her work In a Musty, Misty Thicket Maarit Suomi-Väänänen plunges deep in to the murky depths of mother-child-relationships. The enigmatic work playfully reconstructs the Oedipal scenario of psychoanalytic theories and seems to be offering a new mythical basis for a modern, inverted interpretation of the Oedipus complex.
The work takes us to an age before words. In the middle of nowhere, in some era long since gone, live to women – the morbidly obese Pik Mama and presumably her daughter Missy – whose language is the language of primordial desire. Scars, bruises and dirt tell their own wordless story.
The driving force of this ambiguous work is the development of Missy’s newly discovered sense of self-identity. In the beginning Missy is just childish little girl completely dominated by Pik Mama’s every whim. Little by little strange events begin to shatter the child’s world and predict a radical change. The relationship between the mother and the daughter, in which fondness mixes with narcissistic abuse and incestuous desire, finally heads to the inevitable: symbolic matricide and complete independence.
Suomi-Väänänen’s work speaks with euphemisms. The work describes the hopes and desires we all unconsciously share, but which we cannot or dare not express with words.
Art critic Harri Mäcklin. DVD cover text.
Maarit Suomi-Väänänen’s totally absurd work studies encounters between mother and daughter in an environment where certain urban qualities are blended in with Stone Age. Nina Renvall’s excessively realistic performance as Missy is simply irresistible, as is Appe Vanajas’s Pik Mama.
Critic Leena Kuumola, HBL 18.6.2011
Maarit Suomi-Väänänen’s In a Musty, Misty Thicket is, if I may exaggerate, a 12-minute video of Stone Age lesbians. In the Finnish-French co-production two women, Pik Mama and Missy, look after each other on a solitary island, by a boiling cauldron and a campfire. Bizarre, comical and emotionally moving action, which could be termed ”Finnish”. Anna Aua and Elaan, Jüri Ojaver and Henri Hytt gave a fine performance at the old Kino auditorium, but Gradovsky’s and Suomi-Väänänen’s works were the most memorable.
SIRP Estonian Culture Magazine. Writer: Raivo Kelomees 12.8.2011
Charmingly Compelling In a Musty, Misty Thicket
Video art was the uncontested favorite of the third-graders from the Savosenmäki school at the Mänttä Art Festival. Maarit Suomi-Väänänen’s film installation In a Musty, Misty Thicket had the little children sitting spellbound in front of it. The video downright locked their gaze and many of them wanted to come and watch it again at the end of the tour.
-This film is definitely the best because it’s so exciting and a little scary, too, Jyri Huhtala, Tino Helkamäki, Marko Puumalainen and Konsta Herranen agree in unison.
Ville Viinikka, in turn, finds the video disgusting. And the explanation is easy to come by: because there’s a tick in it.
-I’ve sometimes seen real ticks on our dogs and they’re yucky, Ville reflects.
The tick awakened the most discussion and thoughts among the children; many of them questioned the size of the fake tick in the room.
-Ticks aren’t really that big, Jenni Uuttera knew to tell her classmates.
The video was at times so exciting that the children had to peek at it through their fingers. But they absolutely had to watch it anyhow. What disgusted them the most, however, was the part where the younger woman examines her own snot.
-We just have to remember that it’s just jelly really, like the guide told us, says Uuttera.
KVM newspaper 29.8.2011, writer: Mira Metsälä