Irit Garty & Isaac Layish, Mar. 2005
After arriving in Helsinki and
wandering around the city for a whole day I realized I was feeling
the tingling feeling of deja vu - could I have been here before?
Well, as it turns out, I had.
In numerous Hollywood productions between the sixties and late eighties
("Dr Zhivago", "Gorky Park", "Reds",
"White Nights", "The forth protocol") Helsinki
was used as a stand-in for Russia - more specifically doubling for
Moscow and the Soviet Union during the cold war or Russian revolution
- and usually as a cinematic backdrop for political intrigue and
That one city could visually and
narratively be used to mimic another should come as no surprise
and nowadays the movie industry is usually busy creating 18th century
London or 19th century New Hampshire in such former eastern bloc
countries as Romania and Latvia. But my research into this peculiar
situation that entangles identity, narrative, subject-hood and fiction,
led me to another, more eery Finish bit of trivia.
The odd bit of information I stumbled on involves a slightly different
and disturbing simulation - The Finnish police, in what seems to
be an inheritance of their past attempts to uncover foreign spies
and their current battle to infiltrate the current activities of
criminal organizations, have the authority to create false identities
which they can then back up in the population and trade registers,
and various archives.
These ghost personas, once established,
can then be put into storage and then these "new identities
[can be] used by trained police officers who then have to commit
a new life story to memory".
) The two sketches "Untitled, Gulls and Vans" and "Pasila
Bole Panoramas" are an initial attempt to tap into the thoughts
we had regarding the link between urban identity and cinematic fiction
- what defines a city visually (as evident in the seaside combination
of vans and gulls) and differentiates it from another. and, equally,
the ways in which, structurally (as in the 360 degree, all enveloping,
technique of the panorama) you would portray this narrative of one
place that mimics another reality. In the case of the Panoramas
taken in Pasila Bole, a housing project in the north of Helsinki,
this promise of another place would be the 1960's one of efficiency