Tuija Järvenpää Artist in Residence | Dear Virginia, I’m Looking for a Room

Tuija Järvenpää

A plan for an enormous birthday party at the Amsterdam Goethe Institut was made, an inimitable guest list compiled, and a lecture series programmed that will blow you mind, and then, then the year 2020 came, we all know the phrase that sounded continuously that year: ‘IM LICHTE DER VORHERRSCHENDEN UMSTÄNDE ABGESAGT.’ That’s how it started, and it stayed that way for a while, but then visual artist Tuija Järvenpää came up with a different idea and a new plan. As a result, she has now created an intriguing work that consists of worlds that could have been and perhaps one day will be, but which are, so far, intimate sketches of dreamed-of places in the home. Sketches of places where you could, should, might have your own space, A Room of One’s Own.

Before you tell me the beginning, the original plan that made you come to Amsterdam, can you say something about the work that is now in front of me? About this countless, almost endless pile of blue interior drawings?

Few years ago I found my old notebooks and agendas stored in boxes I had moved around since 1990. Inside there, between the project plans, addresses, shopinglists, on backsides were always some quick scribbles, drawings where I seemed to have made designs for my own home. It striked me to see them appearing through all those years. I then first collected them all by scanning the pages with drawings with an ordinary black and white copy machine.

At AGA I have been working the drawings into a series of etchings. Using photopolymer technique with I try to give the unconscious drawings a new worthy platform and space. The process for me is similar to an archaeologist. The sensation of researching historical sites, gently wiping the dust away and finding hidden hints of forgotten worlds. What is laying there underneath our contemporary culture. What is their message to us now? What was I dreaming about back then? I leave the everyday notes out and invite the viewer to take an intimate moment with my notebook drawing, with each 42 of them. The series is printed with cobalt blue ink on 300g Hahnemuhle printing paper. The printed area on each is 210x297mm.

Tuija Järvenpää, Dear Virginia, I’m Looking for a Room (2022)


The title sounds like the book by Virginia Woolf, is it?

True, The series is called: Dear Virginia, I’m Looking for a Room. And refers to Woolf’s book: ‘Room of One’s Own’ where she discusses the essential right for self expression, need for creation and the constructions and violent forces that suppress humanity from growth.


Well, I think I am ready now for that which preceded your intriguing work. You called it a tragedy, s what happened?

I planned to come to Amsterdam to organize a birthday party for Cornelia Schlosser, an international festive Salon of women. Plans were made of the guest list and a very special program and shining settings. The event and installation would have taken place at the Amsterdam Goethe Institut’s beautiful ballroom with guests like writers Virginia Woolf (GB), Fatima Mernissi and and Minna Salami (GB), filmmakers Mai Zetterling, Anna Odell (SE) Mari Soppela (FI) and Shiva Sanjari (IR) would discuss The Age of Enlightenment – وقت الأضواء – Temps des Lumières or rather The Nouveau Temps de Lumières together with the philosopher Vigdis Songe-Møller (NO) and Imami Sherin Khankan ( DK). Further the poetry of Saida Menebhi (MO )and Hissa Hilal (SA) will be interpreted by the Swedish rapper Silvana Imam and of course Dancer Isadora Duncan would come together with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (RUS). The birthday cake would have been designed together with lightdesigner Minna Tiikkainen (FI) Cornelia, Goethes younger sister would turn 270 years on the 7 December 2020. And then, little by little after the anniversary year 2020 started it became clearer nothing of the plans could take place. Once again Cornelias birthday party was: ‘IM LICHTE DER VORHERRSCHENDEN UMSTÄNDE ABGESAGT.’.

After I started recovering from this tragedy I began slowly collecting the ideas and tried to translate them into an artist magazine. I decided to start a women’s world wide web, an artist magazine: VVVVVVVV. The paper is designed together with Amsterdam based graphic designer Corine Datema.

Tuija Järvenpää
Selection of drawings: Dear Virginia, I’m Looking for a Room. Tuija Järvenpää, 2022 De Bouwput.


So, there will be a party after all?
Yes definitely, and even this year, in De Bouwput. The launch of the VVVVVVVV will take place later this year from 1 till 13 December with issue 0. This issue would form a catalog for my series of drawings.

Tuija was our guest as artist in residence for the last three months. Such a pleasure to have you here and we are already looking forward to November because then, happily, you will be back!

Interview by Barbara Collé