Sunday July 2, 2017
I started my journey to Finland to undertake my artist residency at Serlachius Museums in Mänttä at 9.20am Saturday, July 1. It began when I closed my apartment door and made my way to the Skybus pickup point on the other side of the road. I surprise myself by arriving at Tullamarine airport early - checkin was still a ways off. Travel by plane can be a mind numbing experience. I contemplated this while I sat at Helsinki Airport with a 7hour wait before my connecting flight to Tampere. As I worked on my computer I started to watch the people who had gathered to board a flight. Sitting opposite to Gate 19 I could see there were very few chairs in the boarding lounge - forcing people to stand. I continued to watch as the boarding process began. It reminded me of how cattle are manoeuvred into a pen. At a prescribed time those people were herded down a narrow corridor onto the waiting plane. This herding process is indicative of traveling by plane. It happens as soon as one approaches the airport, cars and buses are funnelled to a drop off point where people hover around to ensure no one lingers too long. It continues inside where lines and arrows point travellers/visitors in the right direction. Checkin is a series of barriers to fit the maximum amount of people in the minimum amount of space. This method of herding is repeated at customs. Once a person is cleared fit to continue they are herded through a series of upmarket shops with posters of glamorous women and men selling a dream of prosperity and excitement. If the person is lucky they may get to experience this glamorous world after purchasing some exotic watch, bag or liquor. As one continues down the directed route glamorous dreams give way to Hungry Jacks and a series of shabby eateries, where people can sit and while away the hours until its time to be herded onboard a flight, which in my case will take me to Tampere.
While I walked the preordained route that took me to Gate 19 I pondered the idea of a green indoor garden area where one could chill out in the lead up to the flight. I thought there are a million and one things that could exist in an airport but we seem to favour a homologised experience. The only thing that really defines Tullamarine and Hong Kong from Helsinki airport is the distant landscape.