head for International Community Ice Art Exhibit_Curatorial Notes
Kai Törmikoski sculpting ice sculpture in Yakutsk, Siberia 1998. Photo by Marika Tormikoski.

Kai Törmikoski sculpting with a power tool, Yakutsk 1998.

Photo credit: Marika Törmikoski
Art Marika


Diary—Trip to Yakutsk, Siberia

Sunday 14.3.1999
Train ”tolstoi” from Helsinki to Moscow

Monday 15.3.1999
Moscow in the morning. Our good friends Victor and Tanya waiting for us in the station. They took us into their home to wait for the flight to Yakutsk. "Small- Victor" (Loktev) showed us Moscow: Gorgi- park and artsalesmarket.

After sightseeing small and very old bus was waiting for us. Trip to Domededovo- airport. Also our friends from Russian city of Arkhangelsk, Czech and Germany joined us. After 20 minutes trip started a nightmare. Bus broke down. We were standing in the middle of highway and we had to hurry to the airport. Victor stopped some kind of army truck to get our luggages to the airport. It was little bit weird to stand in Russia and hitch-hike…Well, Victor stopped one old Russian car, four men inside, gave them some roubles, and put me in. I was there, on my own with four Russian men, and I didn’t understand a word they spoke to me…Then they turned away from the highway….heeelp…. what’s happening…??? Ok, Kai, calm down, they are only going to gas station. After that we finally drove to airport. What a nightmare. I was really scared….

Aeroplane was old and shabby Iljuzhin C2M. No lockers for the luggages, only open shelves. During the take off some luggages felt down, luckily not to my head.

Tuesday 16.3.1999
Over the great Siberian landscape finally in Yakutsk. Flight took about seven hours and time difference was six hours. Airport terminal looked very old, I think they hadn’t repaired it since 40’s…. Outside temperature was about -30ºC (-22ºF). Passport control and small ”Asian look-like” people helped us to the warm bus. When I looked at those people, I remembered how far in east I was. Then to Hotel Lena, which was typical Russian style. Breakfast and sightseeing. In museum our interpreter Asya told us about local history and nature. We noticed that animals and nature is quite similar as in Finland. We saw lots of ice sculptures all over the town.

Wednesday 17.3.1999
Finally carving! Ice was beautiful, turquoise color and really hard. Ice block was taken from river Lena and it was something like 1.5m x 2 m x 1m. In the evening we had normal russian party time with lots of vodka. We gave Victor a bottle of  ”salmiakkikossu” which is special Finnish mix of vodka and salmiak (ammonium chloride).

Thursday 18.3.1999
More carving. Power switch of chainsaw froze down and power was on all the time, so we had to use electric cable as a switch....In the evening visiting Yuri Spiridonovs (festival director) atelje. Meal was frozen raw fish and vodka...Yuri gave us one of his paintings as a present....nice guy

Friday 19.3.1999
Carving again. Full working day. In the evening more vodka with our Russian friends, of course….

Saturday 20.3.1999
Finishing carving. In the prize seremony there was some folk dancing and they gave us some weird taste drinks. Warm drink made of mare horse milk and alcohol. Then organization gave me special present : National coat of yakutian man....there was still price tag left, and I can tell you…it was not cheap…...In the evening was closing ceremony. everybody had to make some show, so I invited all to dance ”letkajenkka” with me, it’s kind of row dance. All the others sang their national songs or something, I couldn’t…if you hear me singing some day, you understand why….

Sunday 21.3.1999
By bus over the 12 km wide Lena –river. One day contest in the etnocultural centre. Toilets were nice....only hole in the floor and temperature -35ºC (-31ºF). In the closing ceremony they put some man into locked wooden box and throw it to the river. After 30 seconds he came up. Russian ”Houdini” I think.

Monday 22.3.1999
By plane ”Iljuzhin” back to Moscow, and one more day in Victors house... I played backgammon with Ukrainian guy Andrey. And I lost. Not only once…three times. How can I go back to Finland and tell people about that…Some shopping and train back to Finland.

Tuesday 23.3.1999
11.30 am Helsinki. Home Sweet home. Never again… by the way…When is the next ice festival in Russia….?

—Text: Kai Törmikoski …back to artist’s bio

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