You probably already know, that in 2026 one city from Finland and one city from Slovakia will be nominated for the European Capital of culture. Together with our friend from region Savonlinna, we decided to present one artist from us and one from them once a week and ask them 4 identical questions. Because of the pandemic, we can’t meet each other face to face, but virtually we can make artist exchanges and so far, we enjoy it so much :) Last time we questioned Michal Rafaj and for the Savonlinna painter Katriina Kaija - you can read full article here. Today we questioned Boris Vitázek for Slovakia and Pietu Wikström from Finland.
Boris Vitázek was born in Trenčín and is s new media artist based in Bratislava, Slovakia. His works range from small intimate installations that are designed to be experienced by a single person to a big scale mapping that works with public space and bends the context of architecture in the city. They usually combine visuals and sound to create a tangible atmosphere that completely hijacks the mind of participants and creates unique space dedicated to a single theme. Themes in his work often revolve around privacy issues and social media, religion, science and pure exploration of sound and visual in relation to the audience and its interaction with the performance or installation. He is also very active in the theater scene, designing stages and working with directors on empowering actors to manipulate visuals and sound live on stage.
Boris Vitázek, Photo by Boris Vitázek
Pietu Wikström is an actor and rap and spoken word artist. Pietru is also a part of the Saimaa Theater, a group that tours the clubhouses in the Saimaa region by ship during the summer. Pietru act in movies, TV series and auditions, as well as makes music and write lyrics under the artist name Kuopus.
We asked artists 4 simple questions. Find out with us the similarity but also the differences in their view of the current situation, as well as their work itself.
1. What is the role of nature in your art?
Boris: Nature is the subject for the best tool that humans ever devised - science. It shows everywhere - from generative code producing various types of noise inspired by nature, or in design of installations, featuring concepts like simulations of animal food chains. I love exploring nature with code, on one hand its mind blowing how complex structure arises from a simple set of rules and humbling seeing the complexity and intertwined nature of big systems.
There is of course a problem of my type of art is demanding on manufacturing of complex equipment and using lots of electricity, but I try to spend time on ecologic themes as well use recycled technology if its fitting for the theme of my artwork. I also do believe we could choose things that are worth investing in, and do not rely on mass production of waste - like good art.
Pietu: I need forests, waters, lakes, rivers, bogs and seas to be able to live and work. I write a lot about them, stay near them and also I miss near to them. My family has a summer cottage in Ruokolahti on the shores of Lake Saimaa and the views from there are the landscape of my soul. The highlight of my summerdays is to get to the deck of the patrol ship with the Saimaa Theater and see those waters more widely.
Visual art by Boris Vitázek
2. How has covid19 affected your work? Boris: The biggest shift is moving from public events. I did a lot of exhibitions and performances that I had to stop, but otherwise it's the same old mostly sitting behind the computer all the time. Worst part is getting inspiration and work-life balance, days are blending into nights, its hard to know what happened two weeks or two months ago and the news are like constant onslaught of information h̵͍͓͇̮̼͔̭̞͎͒́̔̓̀̒́̄̎͑͐̀̎͝e̶̡͔̩̲͙̳̟̺̍̒̏͑̒͂̽̃̋̀̅l̶̞͋̎̾͛͂͛p̵̢̛̘͙͚̲̩̮̯̠͔̞̜̳̈̽̎͆̈́̋͂̅̾̒͆͆͝ ̸̛͚̘͑͐̈͛̾̊̇̋̍͆͘̚̕͝m̷͓̗̬̂̔ͅe̶̩͈̭̞̪͇̩͚̠̹̠͊̈́̈́͜ͅë̴͎̱̼͎͙́̄́͒́͛͂̀̇̏̓͝ë̸͍̺̭̪̜̈̎̈͑͐͂̓͠
Pietu: Surprisingly little. I've been working almost full-time during pandemia, thanks for the scholarships, films and radio plays. The Saimaa Theater had to cancel its tour last summer and is currently keeping a close eye this summer.
Photos by Pietu Wikström
3. How would you like to develop your city in the next few years?
Boris: I would love to have more opportunities to present my work and organize events, everything from workshops with students, to big scale mappings and experimental music events in different venues. These are all doable things, and I am trying, but it's hard to do the cultural part because of various reasons, at some point everything in Trencin mellowed, and I would like to get the spark back on.
Pietu: I would develop the entire Saimaa region in terms of nature conservation, culture and education. I would leave all important Nature Sites in Saimaa unbuilt and invest in nature tourism. Local cultural actors are bursting with great ideas, and in addition to the Saimaa Theater, there are good examples of these - such as the Muhasaari Theater in Savonlinna, Nuijamies in Lappeenranta and the Performing Arts collective in the Caucasus in Mikkeli. There is a need to increase support for culture and also to invest in cultural education and training at all levels. Education must be varied and diverse, as it often brings great ideas and dreams.
Visual art by Boris Vitázek
4. Why your city should be chosen for the European Capital of Culture in 2026?
Boris: It's simply a great city - it's beautiful, the castle on top is just stunning. It's uniquely positioned with a good connection between the Tatras and west of Slovakia - right on the Highway connecting them. Borders with Czech Republic are practically next to it, and there are many families intertwined with various cities in Czechia. I know a lot of people in the culture scene that grew up in Trencin and exported their talents all around the world, that would be more than happy lending their hand back in their hometown. Trencin has just one-of-kind atmosphere, and thanks to its geography, urbanism and people it is most definitely the best candidate to become one of the Capitals of European Culture.
Pietu: The Saimaa region is unique, all the natural values, landscape and culture. It is a great proof that you don´t have to be located in big cities and institutions to be interesting. Quite opposite. Sometimes creativity can flourish better when you have serenity, space and chance to look over the lake and green growing forests.
In cooperation with Saimaa-ilmiö ❤ Trenčín, we decided to bring interesting articles and interviews about Trenčín2026 and Saimaa-ilmiö2026 every week, as well as presenting various artists, interesting tourist places and mutual conversations. We can't wait for more :)