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Finnish artist to create €100k artificial island

The artist said he wants to raise conversations about climate change with his Floating Island project, commissioned by Lönnström Art Museum in western Finland.

Raimo Saarinen
Finnish artist Raimo Saarinen. Image: Maija Astikainen

Lönnström Art Museum has selected 33-year-old Finnish artist Raimo Saarinen to lead its next commissioned art project - a man-made Floating Island off the coast of Rauma in western Finland.

The contemporary museum, which is also based in Rauma, has pledged 100,000 euros towards the effort.

Saarinen said he plans to make the island out of both man-made and natural materials including bedrock, rocks, soil as well as plants and trees - domestic as well as foreign - and will be about 20-square-metres in size.

Saarinen said the project is meant to raise awareness and questions about human-related climate change.

“How are we shaping our environment? What are the limits of change that we are prepared to accept as individuals? How does artificial and built or modified nature differ from the rest of nature? What do we define as nature, what do we exclude from it?” Saarinen said in a release issued by the museum.

Floating on the sea

The exact location where the fake island will be placed has not yet been decided, but the artist said the structure will float on the sea. Saarinen said the project will be a continuation of his work with plant-based sculptures.

Story continues after photo.

Raimo Saarisen teoksia, joissa on käytetty eläviä kasveja.
Saarinen's earlier plant-based sculptures. Image: Raimo Saarinen

“From the outside, the artificial structure looks like an ordinary island, only its motion and rocking on the waves reveal that there is something strange about it,” he said.

Saarinen was born in Helsinki and graduated from the city’s Academy of Fine Arts in 2017. He was one of 100 artists who took part in creating Finnish President Sauli Niinistö’s official portrait, which was a mosaic of 100 separate works.

The island project was selected by the museum from a selection of applications from a total of 72 artists, many of whom also proposed environmentally-themed works.

The 100,000 euro commission grant Saarinen is receiving from the museum is said to be among the largest of its kind in Finnish history.

Lönnström Art Museum has commissioned contemporary art projects with visual artists since 2016.

The museum said work on the island will begin at the beginning of 2019.

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