18 Aug 2016



Culture meeting points – art group pick nick talk about their work

The pick nick art group was founded in 2012 by Alkis HadjiandreouPanayiotis Michael, and Maria Petrides. The trio are based in Cyprus and have exhibited works in Cyprus, Istanbul and Berlin. Their works are situational and spatially aware, and reflect the placement of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, between East and West, between Europe and the Middle East.

During their residency at Helsinki, pick nick have been staying at HIAP’s Cable Factory studios, researching the city and organising an art walk that will reflect on this positioning of Cyprus on the map. The walk, which will take place on Saturday the 20th of August, will involve a recitation of the final scenes of five Middle Eastern films. The scenes will relocate the original language and atmosphere of the films to five areas in central Helsinki, thus forcing a meeting between the original words and a new place. This way, the narratives of the original films will have to be reinterpreted in their new context.

However, working with film and its forms is only one part of the project. The idea of a meeting is important; during the walks, the group will meet their audience in collaboration, sharing histories and narratives.

TA: How would you say your surroundings have influenced your work?

pick nick: We ordinarily work with and around conditions of everyday life (wherever they may be) looking at silent details and paused potentials inherent in daily routes and routines. On a larger scale, living and working in Cyprus plays a part in the ways our research leans on wider questions regarding identity, mobilization and coexistence in seemingly discordant environments. Discussing troubled representations and “given” histories is a practice that finds its way in works such as From the valley to the uplands, the highway and the homewhich takes place in Helsinki or (re)public fever in Istanbul during our residency at Apartman Projesi (2013) in collaboration with photographer Hüseyin Yılmaz.

TA: The work seems situational, with Cyprus falling between Europe and the Middle East. In the unfinished narratives of the films you have chosen, this positioning seems to be of great importance. Tell us a bit about this.    

pick nick: Our project here involves working with a small selection of films that were filmed and produced in countries neighbouring Cyprus, that is, the Middle East. By transferring the ending scenes to Helsinki (literally and metaphorically) we ask in what ways orchestrated ends can become means of new emerging narratives. More recently, an important aspect to our work is our entanglement with how our region, in its particular natural, social and cultural history, meets other parts of the world. With Cyprus situated between apparently “distant worlds” – often regarded as a stopover for people or things “passing through” – we are intrigued by envisioning ways of seizing this position to evoke moving tensions and to prompt possibilities of real and imagined encounters.

TA: The walks take place in a very different environment, central Helsinki. How does that affect the outcome?

pick nick: Reconstructing conditions of encounter is a recurrent question in our research. For the work currently developing in Helsinki during our one-month residency, we’re exploring ways in which difference – cultural and geographical – echoes in the city’s landscape. How such concurrences call for understandings of others’ stories and different histories. From the valley to the uplands, the highway and the home recites ending scripts (or silence) in Helsinki, bringing these into dialogue with the city’s soundscapes of never ending stories.

TA: What inspires you?

pick nick: Thinking outside cubes.

TA: Who and what are your influences in and outside the art world?

pick nick: Nina Simone, Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (billboard of an empty bed), literary characters who are real like Toni Morrison’s Pilate from Song of Solomon, Richard Sennett’s Flesh and Stone….

TA: Your performances, such as the art walk in Helsinki, often involve your audience. Do you view the works as collaborations?

pick nick: Most of our works are indeed collaborative although we also acknowledge the presence of audience as a vital part of our conceptions. Sometimes our works only materialise if an audience collaborates with us. We include the public in ways that may not seem obvious at first glance but which subtly activate critical ways of seeing. The public is involved in various ways simply by being present and open to the artwork/project, and by engaging in conversation and dialogue.

TA: What is it like to work in a group of three? Do you often have to compromise your ideas in order to achieve balance in the group dynamic?

pick nick: Group work is inherently challenging and charming; out of it emerges growth and cooperation, and relationships become real when compromise happens.

Read more: http://www.picknickworks.org

You’re welcome to participate on the art walk on Saturday, 20th of August 2016