Archive for January 15th, 2011


015/2011 the grand opening

015/2011 the grand opening, originally uploaded by rosipaw.

Turku has now officially opened its year of being one of the European Capitals of Culture. I’m afraid, some of my fears of what the year will have in store, materialised with the opening spectacle tonight. I’m sorry to say that it smacked of a huge media event, where all that counted was that it looked good on TV, but who could care less about the 50 000 people who turned up along the riversides, defying the biting cold of almost minus 20 degrees Celcius! Big screens were erected around the town for people to watch the live TV broadcast of a massive light, fire and sound show, by the group ‘Walk the Plank’ from England (why not domestic artists??). I had decided in advance not to even try to photograph any of the show, but to concentrate on seeing and experiencing it for real, without looking through the camera lens. In the end, I didn’t hear or see a lot, the area was simply too vast for the show make an impact on people standing further away. But the fireworks were spectacular! Just makes me wonder how many millions were shot up in the air with them, which could have been spent on improving the poor working conditions of many artists in our town.

But not to sound overly critical and negative, I did enjoy some of the ambience of the evening. Seeing thousands of people make their way along the riversides and across the ice, briskly and in a very determined manner because of the cold, was true evidence of our national charasteristic ‘sisu’ (guts, perseverance, endurance).

Hundreds of school children had been recruited to carry lanterns in processions, to bring light to the darkness, and to guide people to the spectacle area. I really enjoyed seeing them bundled up warmly, so earnest and serious, carrying out this special assignment.

But, once again, why on earth did willow branches of the frames have to be imported from England, to a country covered in forests!? I must say, though, that the lanterns did look nice in the dark night, and later on, hoisted up the masts of the old museum ship.

A special ‘River Aura symphony’ had been ‘composed’ for the occasion. It consisted of church bells in different parts of the town, and horns and sirens of boats moored along the riversides. Walking towards the opening venue, these totally unpredictable sounds and their echos on both sides of the river created quite a unique atmosphere. Experiencing this alone made it worthwhile leaving the cosy warmth of home, and freezing out there for a couple of hours.

All in all, I had quite a surreal feeling most of the evening, almost like being in a sci-fi movie. The unexpected sounds in the dark, the masses of people and bright lights of the spectacle made me expect a flying saucer to land any minute, a bit like in ‘Close Encounters’. But no aliens appeared – at least to my knowledge.

Ho hum! I’m glad I went although the very best moment of the evening was getting into the hot sauna waiting for us at home, and defrosting our fingers and toes!


January 2011

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