Petri Luukkanen My Stuff Interview
Petri Luukkanen My Stuff Interview
One day Finn Petri Luukkanen decided he had too many possessions in his flat and that it was making him depressed, so he put them all into storage and retrieved them back one per day, until he felt he didn’t need any more. Having decided to capture his progress on camera, he then went on to transform his peculiar brand of deprivation therapy into a documentary film, My Stuff. Here he talks to View’s Matthew Turner about his thought processes during and after the film making, why some objects are still important to him, and why sleeping naked on the floor next to a boiling hot radiator isn’t as bad as you might think.
My first question is about the lasting impact the project has had on you. It’s changed the way you’ve lived your life, to the extent of your complicated travel arrangements to get here

Petri Luukkanen

It’s changed my life in many aspects. I went through this year that was quite a radical lifestyle change. When it ended, I didn’t go back and get all the stuff back. Of course it changes your life if you do something for a while. I had this positive experience and this year I wasn’t free of stuff, I actually had to think about stuff all the time. I had a positive experience of self-exploring, of challenging my everyday lifestyle. Of course I became quite aware of many environmental things. I calculated my carbon footprint and realised it’s off the charts, because I fly a lot. I decided I will try not to fly. I haven’t flown in an aeroplane in three years. From Helsinki I took a cargo ship to Germany, and a train to Brussels and came on the train from Brussels to here. It was quite slow and expensive! Maybe we shouldn’t take all the flights we take. How should I travel, how much should I travel? If I want to go from Berlin to Paris, should I do it by train? You know it’s a kind of positive experience to change my lifestyle.
Did you expect the project to have this lasting impact when you first started it?

Petri Luukkanen

I didn’t have any expectations. It’s a film about me, and I’m also the director. In the beginning I had the idea that I would take my stuff into storage, then I started thinking how I should do it. Then I had the idea of filming it, maybe. I just started packing, there were no ideas or expectations or anything. It felt something that I had to do. I didn’t have rules at the time. I just started doing it to see what comes out of it. I didn’t want to think too much or have expectations. Everything just happened.

And now when I look back, it’s three years ago or something, now I’ve gone through the experience it’s easy for me to say, ‘If I look back at the guy who started the experience, the problem was he had too much stuff’. Too much everything. He was a little depressed, and thinking his stuff will make him happy. It actually sounds quite weird when you say that. At the moment, I can be true to myself and think, I’m unhappy in my life. There’s not a lot of love, and I’m being consumed too much, what should I do now? Probably, I would have done this kind of experiment.

It was not a film production with a script or anything. My friends and I, we know how to use cameras, so the film looks beautiful, in my opinion. It’s just something we started filming: ‘What shall we do, what are we going to film tomorrow? How much stuff are you going to bring to the story?’ I was thinking maybe 1,000 items! That was my first idea. How hard could it be with 1,000 items? I was like, ‘I would probably die.’ Then I was thinking, maybe 200 pieces, then went through the process of taking more. We were discussing a lot about the film and also to some extent expressing myself as well. As I look back, maybe the filming gave me a concept in my life. Doing the film was kind of, not therapy, but reflecting something. I’m doing the diary and then having to read it, it’s reflective.
Did you think the project would have been harder if you’d not been filming it?

Petri Luukkanen

I think it would have been different. I didn’t tell anybody I was doing it, not even my workplace. Of course the filming gave it this reflective angle. Without it, maybe it would have been faster, or not this hardcore, with these kinds of rules. I think the actual project would have been the same. Every time I got into trouble I used the film card. In the beginning everything was okay, but if I’m running naked somewhere, and police come, they say, ‘Oh they’re filming something, everything must be okay.’ If I didn’t have any ID in the beginning, they’d say, ‘You don’t have any ID?’ And I’d say, ‘I’m making this documentary,’ and they’d say, ‘That’s interesting!’ I used it as a vehicle.

There are some things that are not present in the film. In the beginning, for example, I was self-conscious about what I was doing. When you begin to make a film about yourself, you think, ‘How will I look now?’ In the beginning I feel I was surviving and succeeding.
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Content updated: 25/06/2017 09:35

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