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The Curious Case of Log Head

In a short film by Maarit Suomi-Väänänen, Log Head (10min, 2015), a personified tree log equipped with skis, furry hat and feelings goes out and about its day in the forest.

Encounters with other more-or-less lively inhabitants make Log Head act and react in a quest for something yet unknown to the viewer. Log Head (or Pölkyllä Pää in its original Finnish name) has a voice, but uses sounds instead of words to express its emotions.

The forest journey is an insight into Log Head‘s inner life, joys and struggles in a  plot where comedy and drama are charmingly intertwined. One cannot help but feel empathy towards this Log Head fellow and soon after watching the question emerges:

Who IS Log Head?  Is it a person, a child, an animal, a spirit? Whatever the answer, it somehow feels like there is a little bit of each and every one of us in this funny and slightly-troubled soul.


LogHead | ©Photo Jarkko Liikanen


LogHead | ©Photo Jarkko Liikanen


LogHead | ©Photo Jarkko Liikanen

I asked the artist to give her own  insight into the life of her character and short film Log Head, as well as thoughts on her retrospective series SUPER NORTH. The series is part of the DocPoint film festival, where Log Head had its premiere in Helsinki earlier this week, on Tuesday 26 February 2016.

The Art Trail: Who is Log Head in your view? what is the main feeling you wanted to transmit to the audience through the character?

Maarit Suomi-Väänänen: To me, Log Head represents a genderless being. Through this character, I wanted to also point out that we humans are defined by much more than our gender. My intention was to portray a genderless, ageless and neutral state of existence. Log Head is at times child, animal, man, woman, gnome / spirit of the forest, or then a mere piece of wood. This multilateral concept was also very important when creating the sounds, as Log Head’s identity encompasses both male and female characteristics. Log Head is androgynous. I personally find dual gender divisions insensitive and inflexible.

Similar to the previous parts of my special effects trilogy Crazy May – including Up And About Again (9min, 2009) &  Misty Ticket (12min, 2012) – Log Head is meant for audiences of all ages, including children. It is a work of art accessible to everyone and can make for a playful, emotional and intellectual viewing. 

TAT: Where will people be able to see Log Head aside from DocPoint? Any possibility for international audiences to see it?

MSV: Yes, I really hope that Log Head will travel as well as my previous works, but you can never know how the work is received. Especially  the more risky works. The way in which the entire retrospective SUPER NORTH (including Log Head) is interpreted is very much influenced by where and how it is showcased. It can be displayed in various forms and contexts, such as a retrospective screening, master class, artist talk, film debate or then exhibited in a gallery setting as a video installation. For instance in DocPoint SUPER NORTH is presented as a retrospective installation.
This year I will be travelling with SUPER NORTH to USA at EIC – Experiments in Cinema, Albuquerque in April 2016 and to Argentina at  BIM – Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento, Buenos Aires in October 2016. On both these occasions I will be presenting the works and discussing with the audience. The dialogue part  is really fun to me, especially when the audience starts be playful and creative when interpreting the works with open narrative. I love that interaction with the audiences.  I would also love to present  SUPER NORTH in Zurich, where I am going to do my residency for five months in August-December 2016. This will be my longest artist residency so far.

For those of you in Helsinki who have not yet had the chance to see it, Log Head will be on exhibition next month at FORUM BOX MediaBox. The opening will be on 11 February  and exhibition will last until 6 March 2016.

Meanwhile, you can get a glimpse from the trailer:


Maarit Suomi-Väänänen is an award winning media artist and graduate of the University of Art and Design, Helsinki. Maarit combines the expressive forms of visual art to optical possibilities. Her short films ponder social and emotional themes as well as themes connected to identity and communication. Praised as fascinating and open to a multitude of interpretations, Maarit’s works have toured in 40 countries and presented in numerous galleries, institutions, festivals and broadcast, including the Museum of Modern Art Kiasma in Helsinki, YLE Finnish Broadcasting Company, IDFA in Amsterdam, and the Virserum Kunsthall in Sweden along with the work of renowned video artists, Bill Viola and Eija-Liisa Ahtila, among others. 2016 Maarit will work in the Gleis70 residency for 5months in Zurich.

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