MADE BY is the Institute’s series of interviews that allows artists, designers, thinkers and doers to unfold their creative process in their own words.
Finnish artist Riiko Sakkinen (b.1976) is showing a series of his works in the group show ‘The Language of Lists’ at Bury Art Museum as a part of the Text Festival 2 May - 9 July. The Text Festival in Bury is an internationally recognised event investigating contemporary language art. Riiko’s works are lists about things he finds interesting.
I did my first list drawing almost ten years ago. I copied the famous Big Mac index. It was included in my exhibition in Belgium and sold on the opening night. I was amazed that people were interested in a piece that anyone could have created. Maybe that is the charm of my modest pieces. In my opinion, the best art doesn’t necessarily require money, special skills or tools.
My other work at the exhibition is a series of Starbucks’ cups with the names of the world’s most powerful people written where they always write your name. The last series of these cups was shown in Damascus where the exhibition was held in the middle of the civil war. I’m sure the pieces will have a different meaning in Bury, even though they don’t have a Starbucks there either.
Some of the lists are copies of lists that already exist – and other times I’ll get an idea and compile the list myself. It can take about twenty minutes to complete a list at times, but sometimes I’ve collected material for months. The making of a list is simple, but I tend to get excited about a subject and end up researching and reading on it broadly.
I am intrigued by lists because everyone writes them. Even people who don’t write anything else write to-do lists and shopping lists. Lists are primitive. Even if we are otherwise unable to express something in writing, we can make a list of it. Lists can also be series and a bit scary. There is a rumor that the fascists in the small Spanish village where I live have an execution list of all the lefties in case they’ll take over the village.
My work shows the world the way it is - or at least the way I see it. They don’t convey any certain message since I feel that would be underestimating my audience. On the other hand, my whole artistic work and activism is based on the idea of wanting to destroy capitalism and support the birth of socialist world. But it doesn’t have to show in my art. I feel that I have succeeded when I can change someone’s way of seeing everyday things such as the news or special offers in the supermarket.
In the future I would like to live in a socialist world. If that doesn’t happen, I would like to make enough money so I could live the life of the Spanish middle classes. I have also been invited to have a solo exhibition in Bury Art Museum in two years. It will be my first solo exhibition in a museum outside Finland. I also hope that in addition to the museum’s exhibition space I will get to have a small stall at the Bury market.