Monday, 25 February 2008

Uralin Perhonen

"The Butterfly of the Urals" is a handmade puppet animation by Finnish artist Katariina Lillqvist. It is based on folk tales about general Mannerheim, told by the working-class inhabitants of old Pispala in Tampere. The folk tales weren't too reverent towards the "Slaughterer-General", whose decisive role in the bloody civil war in 1918 stayed in the memories of the losing "Red" side in old Socialist stronghold Tampere, which was taken after an especially bitter battle. What makes these secret folk tales interesting is the imagination and visual poetry that Lillqvist has interpreted them with. And yes, there's a Chirayliq angle...

Before his career as leader of the Finnish armed forces, before there was an independent Finland, Mannerheim travelled as an "explorer" (in reality, a spy for the Russian military) through Central Asia. The folk tales claim that he brought back a Kyrgyz man who was his servant - and his secret lover. This detail in the animation appears to be tastefully rendered - the Kyrgyz is equipped with handsome cheekbones and giant butterfly wings, and rides side-saddle on Mannerheim through the steppes - no, nothing awful: in this scene, Mannerheim is a centaur.

Uralin Perhonen has shocked so-called patriotic Finns - certain old angry men, I mean politicians, have even demanded, "off with her head!" The same people usually argue that Mannerheim defended Finland's freedom in 1918, 1939 and 1941 - I wonder if their "freedom" is the same as mine. It certainly sounds more like the "freedom" offered by Mannerheim's favourite enemy - shut up and do what you're told.
Because... no matter if you believe the old folktale, is it more important to respect your idol more than other peoples' memories? These folk tales are the silent ones' way of dealing with a painful past. No wonder Lillqvist was praised at Prix Italia in Milan - Italians should know that art is the first thing to be oppressed and abused by the powerful. The power of the image is intimidating. Nobody complained when the same story was aired on public radio in 2004!
Returning to Chirayliq mode, and I know I may get flamed for this, but one cannot blame Mannerheim for hiding in his closet, if the closet contained a handsome Central Asian man like the Butterfly of the Urals.


bubu said...

Haluaisin nähdä tän nukkeellun, on varmaan mielenkiintoinen, kun siitä noin paljon puhutaan.

Eikä voi muuta sanoo, ku: hejaa Callekustaa!

Tinet said...

Awww ... But I wonder what he saw in Mannerheim. Did he have a weak spot for blue eyes, maybe?

ainur said...

Well, Mannerheim wasn't so awful-looking himself, although he perhaps had other qualities that photos won't show. Maybe the old Central Asian soft spot for stubborn warlords played a part in the romance? We know that men like other men for the weirdest reasons... not necessarily looking for a 'good dad/genetic material for the kids', at least not in those days.

I wonder why nobody has demanded comic artist Timo Mäkeläs head on a silver platter, his Mannerheim ja ihmissyöjätiikeri more than implies that GCE couldn't hunt tigers without a menagierie of elephants, mahouts, servants, British lords and a rajah to back him up.

Here's Mikko Nousiainen as Teh Marski in the upcoming Renny Harlin movie, which will have the patriots drooling and genuflecting and generally making even bigger spectacles of themselves.

I prefer the original. Dignified and eeevil. Here from 1918-1919-something, I think.

ainur said...

Okay, the second-to-last image wasn't really a photographic image of Mannerheim, rather a painting, (ceci-n'est-pas-un-maréchal) but neither is this.

Blame Svenska Teatern.