26 June 2011

Posankka – Half Duck Half Pig

Turku is the former capital and oldest city in the northern European country of Finland. Yet they still manage to keep up to date when it comes to modern art.  Along the river bank of the city sits the Posankka. A sculpture of a half duck, half pig hybrid it wasn’t terribly popular among some of the more traditional locals when it was first put in place.

It is unusual, to say the least.  Created by Finnish artist Alvar Gullichsen this gargantuan piece of marzipan (well, that’s how it looks) is indeed half pig, half duck.  The name comes from the Finnish word for the two animals, possu for pig and ankka for duck. Yes, you probably could have guessed that. The historic city of Turku is not, you would think, the ideal resting place for something so modern and, well, different.

Instead of a beak, the Posankka has a snout.  And instead of tail feathers it has a cheeky corkscrew which looks as if it could uncork (a rather large) bottle of wine.

Of course, the children were the first to take to its cartoon-like features but more serious art fans were soon to follow.  The animal is a criticism of modern gene technology (ears on mice and so on!) but also represents the age old clash between high and popular culture.

Originally the pigduck floated on the Aurajoki river which flows through Turku. However, it now rests at a roadside near the campus of university of Turku. Placing a statue like this would be akin to erecting bronze teletubbies outside Oxford University in England.  The students loved him (her, it?) and soon the statue was the unofficial mascot of not only the university but the city.

Posankka vigilantly greets the visitors to the city as they drive by.  Such is the love that the people of Turku have for Posankka that every Christmas they place a woollen hat on its head (see above) in order to celebrate the season and to protect it from the ravages of the bitter Finnish winter.