Residency Unlimited

Heta Kuchka

Currently based in Helsinki visual artist Heta Kuchka was born in Helsinki in 1974 to a Finnish mother and American father. Her media are drawing, large-scale photography and video. Kuchka’s subject matters combine autobiography, reality documentation and fiction, bringing up discussions about identity, communication, media and society with a humoristic touch.

Lately Kuchka has studied the theme of growing old. Her projects have included elderly people including her own parents as subject matter (Ghosts 2009 & Every Day Is a Bonus 2010). Keep Your Words Sweet.. You May Have To Eat Them! 2011 was a tribute to her American father who brought bluegrass to Finland. His former student taught Kuchka how to play the banjo. At the moment she is working on a project together with her mother where they change identities by drawing portraits of each other and by writing diaries.

Kuchka’s work is increasingly collective. She started a block party in her neighbourhood together with locals. The School Of Activism association with Arto Sivonen and Viivi Lehtonen organises seminars, workshops and more to bring together organisations and urban activists to for example find new ways to help old people living alone.

She wants to pay tribute especially to those old people who do not live at home and have less possibilities to operate in society. During her residency with RU she is working closely with elderly suffering from dementia at the Shore Hill Housing/Lutheran Medican Center in Bay Ridge. The outcome of this project will be exhibited at the Abrons Art Center in November 2012.

Kuchka has been interested in the significant connection between sound and memory since her father passed away in 2000. She studied her personal experience in an intimate video-installation “Daddy’s Girl (Trying not to Cry Listening to that Song)” in 2008. When the police called Kuchka to tell her her father had suddenly passed away, she was at a concert and a certain song was playing. Hearing that particular song would make her burst into tears for years afterwards. In this video Kuchka plays the song for the first time over and over again trying not to cry starting over when she does. This song created such strong physical emotional reaction that it took her back to a moment where her life changed. Her new project would be like the positive version of a similar phenomena.

Heta’s residency with RU is supported by The Arts Council of Finland and the Consulate General of Finland in New York

Special thanks to Shore Hill Housing/Lutheran Medical Center and their dedicated staff Ursula, Felicia and patients without whom this exhibition would not be possible, as well as Carolin Knebel, musician Joyce Hitchcock and cameraman Luka Balac.

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