The Waiting Room (Practising Building a Nest), a hand-printed book by Athanasía Aarniosuo and Ronya Hirsma
Between January and June 2021, Athanasía Aarniosuo and Ronya Hirsma shared their thought, fears, and hopes in a series of letters to each other. The correspondence resulted in the hand-printed and editioned publication The Waiting Room (Practising Building a Nest) in which Athanasía and Ronya discuss waiting, longing, memories, grandmothers, trees that grow branches, and friendship. Stemming from a need to reach out to another human amidst a period of loneliness, the letters (and accompanying illustrations and photographs) form an exercise in making a nest in uncertainty.
Such a pleasure to read your words, as always. I find myself increasingly lonely, being mostly confined to my home. I can see the sky blue as you witness it in my mind, it is beautiful. The sky here – although not that far from you – is grey. There is some hope in its colour, though, as I look at it from the window of my upstairs studio; soon, this room will be my bedroom as I am about to move my studio to a beautiful old wooden villa called Gjutars. I am hopeful that one day I will be able to cycle to my new studio space and work using both arms. For now, I nest, but nesting is no longer feeling safe or nurturing. Maybe it is spring that causes this? I am feeling energetic in ways I shouldn't, not yet. I want to say ‘levoton,’ yet ‘restless’ doesn't sound as lovely.
“Where do I end and something else begins?” you asked. The outlines of your (or mine) body blurring, wounds and scars making the definition of oneself unclear. I also find my definitions blurry and constantly changing shape. I want to type ‘metaphorically speaking’ to illustrate that what I mean is not limited to the actual, literal outlines of my body, but my sense of self is not metaphorical at all. I find myself shifting constantly. Who I am, who I was, what I have experienced; did it happen to me or someone else? Who am I, and where do I end and you begin? I am currently confined to the solitude of my home, but was it really me who fell or some other version of me, I cannot be sure. I definitely do not have outlines. My experiences are not mine to keep, they are always someone else's, or everyone's, too. It almost feels like you are just as much the person who went skiing and fell as I am.
Perhaps I am not really here.
Athanasía Aarniosuo (b. 1981) is an artist, curator, and art journalist, currently living and working in Vantaa, Finland. She holds an MA in art history from the University of Helsinki and a BA (Hons) in fine art printmaking from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, Scotland. She is currently studying at Aalto University’s MA programme Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art.
Ronya Hirsma (b.1994) is a curator, writer and photographer based in Helsinki, Finland. Hirsma holds a BA in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University of Helsinki, with an emphasis on Gender Studies and Media and Communication. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art at Aalto University.
The Waiting Room (Practising Building a Nest) is printed as an edition of 50 books.