On the Tenderness of Men
Finland/UK/AT 2024 | 21:00 min | film installation (photo: courtesy of Museum of Finnish Architecture; photographer unknown)
On the Tenderness of Men explores, as the title suggests, the tenderness of men through a poetic meditation on the iconic modernist architecture of Temppeliaukion church in Helsinki. The architects of the church, Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, their childhood during the Winter War of 1939, and their subsequent evacuation from Suursaari Island are the starting points from which to explore parallels to contemporary themes of war, violence, and displacement, alongside tender feelings of home, safety, and refuge.
Combining a voice-over narrative and archive material, the film installation documents the building inside and out empty of human presence. A fictional émigré in present-day Finland vocalizes the sensuous capacity of the material that the physical and acoustic space of the church expresses to her. She weaves into her narration the fragmentary oral histories collected from workers who built the church with their hands and physical labour. The film thereby unravels the complex relationship between feelings of comfort and security emanating from the material composition of the space. This is contrasted with the historical violence of displacement that the building’s design hoped to remedy.