EMMA

Espoo Museum of Modern Art, 2006

The environmental art piece that was created for the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA) was an open invitation for citizens to take part in the discussion about visual art and its significance. The EMMA piece consists of sculptural block letters that moved around Helsinki and Espoo. With their presence they temporarily change the character of the place. The letters E and A form two skateboard ramps. One of the M’s is designed to be a garden and the other one a construction that measures the level of air pollution and traffic noise.

The EMMA piece is an urban site in which different interests meet: skateboarding, hip hop culture, gardening and environmental activism. Skateboarding and hip hop culture were born in the streets and basketball fields of suburbs as a result of urbanization. Subcultures similar to these have shaped the city itself by creating new, unofficial gathering places, skateparks and architecture suitable for skateboarding. The garden-M offers different communities an opportunity for gardening while the other M next to it measures the local air quality and noise level.

The artwork that the letters EMMA form participates the social reality of its surroundings even though the nature of the work itself is mobile. The piece creates an experience of the place in which it is situated. It is possible to take part in it or just to look at it from a distance. The letters EMMA bring forth the site and its users and their identities. The work states that places create and alter identities that in their turn change the characters of the places that used to be considered stable.