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Antti Laitinen - Sailing The Bark

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

Antti Laitinen Sails The Bark Across The Mersey

Artist Antti Laitinen invited the public to join him for a launching party to witness the first and possibly final voyage of the vessel he made in Liverpool from ancient bark collected from a forest floor in Finland.

The vessel was transported from A Foundation to the Canoe Club at 110 Mariners Wharf, Queens Dock, l3 4dg. It was launched on high tide and will endeavour to navigate the River Mersey.

A Voyage across the Mersey.

.The artist presented a new commission for the Liverpool Biennial 2010. building a vessel in A Foundation Liverpool together with an inaugural voyage on the busy Mersey river.

.The Bark was a boat made from ancient bark collected from the floor of the forest, adding metaphorical transporting us from the place of origin to somewhere else far away. In this story the bark from Finland was and then made into a boat at the gallery.

Antti Laitinen works across idioms of performance, video and photography in a collective mission to stage mythologies and erase the boundary between success and failure through a trajectory of personal endurance and an almost delusional imagination.

Taking us beyond the normal realms of the world into a new reality at once both innocent and yet haunted by the knowledge of our contemporary ecological crisis. Encapsulating an artistic vision that explores the imperfect resolution of the world when faced with the sublime limits of our thoughts, "It is more important to struggle for your dreams than succeeding in them.”

The crtitic Peter Suchin suggests; “The term “authentic” is so deeply embedded in the ideology of this artist that to suggest Antti Laitinen moves away from the special world that this word implies may seem to some a heretical assertion. It is, rather, a point of criticality to raise questions around received ideas about art and the special status of the artist, and in this respect the work is, surprisingly, a type of realism. "The more absurd it looks, the more real, in a certain sense, it is, a man like any other man carrying out in a painstaking fashion extremely demanding tasks.”

Art in Liverpool.

It was early in the morning (too early for us) last Saturday that Antti Laitinen set sail from New Brighton in his boat that he’d built from pine bark over recent weeks in the A Foundation. He was fortunate with the weather and tides being just about perfect for the crossing which can be really tricky. These pictures are courtesy of the A Foundation, hopefully there will be some video online soon.

Now Antti has returned home but his exhibition featuring film and photos of previous works and a forest-like tree installation is well worth visiting.

Someone who did get to see the event wrote the following excellent report…

"Imagine a white dorsal fin the size of half a tablecloth rising out of the River Mersey off Bootle docks. No wonder the ferry tooted. However, this was no shark, but a giant Finn called Antti Laitinen who was drifting at the mercy of a keen north wind and the incoming tide on a raft.

Certainly the oncoming tanker wouldn’t have noticed as the diminutive craft rode its wash. Thankfully the weather conditions were perfect as he headed up river into the brilliant sunshine.

Antii had set sail at 7.30am from New Brighton and was drawn across to the east bank down to the Pier Head by 9.30am before successfully negotiating the shipping lane to reach Cammell Lairds in tact, but numb with cold.

He had made the raft from nothing other than curls of bark, not of Cork Oak bark as you may have expected but of Scots Pine. It was no bigger than a hearth rug !

He is one of the numerous world renowned artists who make up Liverpool’s Biennial International Festival of Contemporary Art which runs until the end of November in various venues across the city.

This was a brilliantly executed ‘happening’ in an age when ‘risk assessment’ and insurance rates have killed off too many bold adventures. However, it was no Arthur Ransom lark. Antii had already navigated a similar raft across the equally busy Baltic channel between his home town Helsinki and the Hanseatic port of Tallin. On this occasion he sought expert advice from our renowned pilots and was escorted at a distance by a support vessel with a film crew on board.

Hopefully their video will soon accompany the startling exhibition of Antii’s previous events currently on show at The A Foundation in Greenland Street (off Jamaica Steet, opposite Cains Brewery.)" - Artful Dodger


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