Hélène Baril was born in the French Alps, but grew up by the sea, the same part of Brittany frequented by the great filmmaker/biologist Jean Painlevé, who among other things, practiced filming under the sea. After getting an MA in literature, Hélène quit her job teaching French to study art. Moving to Finland, she began a career painting houses, purposely confusing the work of fine arts and decoration. Recently, she’s been developing a “tale” involving racecars. In 2011, she created Orlandus Gallery, inspired by a fictional Finnish painter and racing car driver from the early 1800s. The artist also served as inspiration for SBK, an experimental collaborative Hélène founded in 2012, which uses a car for meetings, projects, and as a working tool. Constructing its name and logo after Shell Oil, SBK is “an allegorical and poetic initiative,” whose sphere of operation touches literature, geography, economy, environmentalism, and popular psychology. In 2013 she started a collaboration with anthropologist Michael Taussig in what they call their Sea Theater. Hélène’s work is a fairy tale aimed at confusing real and fictional worlds, or simply encountering the one into the other.

www.sbkland.com (racing car tale)


a poem by W.H. Audren

Many Happy Returns
(for John Rettger)

Johnny, since to-day is
February the twelfth when
Neighbours and relations
Think of you and wish,
Though a staunch Aquarian,
Graciously accept the
Verbal celebrations
Of a doubtful Fish.

Seven years ago you
Warmed your mother's heart by
Making a successful
Début on our stage;
Naïveté's an act that
You already know you
Cannot get away with
Even at your age.

So I wish you first a
Sense of theatre; only
Those who love illusion
And know it will go far:
Otherwise we spend our
Lives in a confusion
Of what we say and do with
Who we really are.

You will any day now
Have this revelation:
"Why, we're all like people
Acting in a play."

And will suffer, Johnny,
Man's unique temptation
Precisely at the moment
You utter this cliché.

Remember if you can then,
Only the All-Father
Can change the cast or give them
Easier lines to say;
Deliberate interference
With others for their own good
Is not allowed the author
Of the play within The Play.

Just because our pride's an
Evil there's no end to,
Birthdays and the arts are
Justified, for when
We consciously pretend to
Own the earth or play at
Being gods, thereby we
Own that we are men.

As a human creature
You will all too often
Forget your proper station,
Johnny, like us all;
Therefore let your birthday
Be a wild occasion
Like a Saturnalia
Or a Servants'Ball.

What else shall I wish you?
Following convention
Shall I wish you Beauty,
Money, Happiness?
Or anything you mention?
No, for I recall an
Ancient proverb: - Nothing
Fails like a success.

What limping devil sets our
Head and heart at variance,
That each time the Younger
Generation sails,
The old and weather-beaten
Deny their own experience
And pray the gods to send them
Calm seas, auspicious gales?

I'm not such an idiot
As to claim the power
To peer into the vistas
Of your future, still

I'm prepared to guess you
Have not found your life as
Easy as your sister's
And you never will.

If I'm right about this,
May you in your troubles,
Neither (like so many
In the U.S.A)
Be ashamed of any
Suffering as vulgar,
Nor bear them like a hero
In the biggest way.

All the possibilities
It had to reject are
What give life and warmth to
An actual character;
The roots of wit and charm tap
Secret springs and sorrow,
Every brilliant doctor
Hides a murderer.

Then, since all self-knowledge
Tempts man into envy,
May you, by acquiring
Proficiency in what
Whitehead calls the art of
Negative Prehension,
Love without desiring
All that you are not.

Tao is a tightrope,
So to keep your balance,
May you always, Johnny,
Manage to combine
Intellectual talents
With a sensual gusto,
The Socratic Doubt with
The Socratic Sign.

That is all that I can
Think of at this moment
And it's time I brought these
Verses to a close:
Happy Birthday, Johnny,
Live beyond your income,
Travel your enjoyment,
Follow your own nose.

W.H.  Audren
February 1942

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