Blackcurrant vodka as prepared by Georg Ots

When Georg Ots (a famous Estonian singer, actor and swimmer, 1920-1975) knew he had some friends coming over one evening he filled an empty bottle with blackcurrant leaves and vodka and put the bottle in the freezer for 24 hours. The outcome was delicious, with delicate notes of blackcurrant. (Laura infused the bottle for additional two nights for a deeper flavour!)


Read our interview with Laura Pappa here

Chapter 4: Power
September 9th 2023
Words by Bethany Rigby

A few hours across the Baltic sea from the Helsinki Tangle, Tallinn is the hometown of now Amsterdam based graphic designer Laura Pappa. In her talk, Pappa explored her mechanisms of staying engaged in creative practice over time.

With her role of educator at the Estonian Academy of Arts whilst working on collaborative and commissioned projects, Pappa cultivates a reflexivity in developing different types of work and different ways of working, balancing varying configurations of “commissions”, “teaching”, “work-hobbies” and “organisation” (the administrative workload familiar to any creative practitioner). As a graphic designer and typographer fascinated with the urban landscape, Pappa’s work operates at the intersection of place and image

Pappa has a unique propensity to make her world of graphic design feel welcoming – often her works and teaching manifest in public venues such as Tallinn Art Hall (Signals from the Periphery) or provide free design lectures (public evening lectures were scheduled as part of Asterisk Summer School, and the Pillow Lava lecture marathon was provided free of charge for participants), all which break down boundaries of exclusion that can so often inhibit the public’s connection with the field of graphic design – a fundamentally public-facing practice.

Furthering this, during the course of projects or residencies Pappa often plans impromptu ‘bar events’, sometimes with table and chairs, always with hard liquor – served as an encouragement for people to sit, drink and talk about design. “This is what I do when I don’t have to do all the other things I have to do.” states Pappa – and perhaps this is how her bar guests feel too. Sometimes drinks are served with pickles, have undefined ingredients, are enjoyed next to a stunning vista, or are poured into unique glassware

In Helsinki, Pappa invited the audience of the Tangle outside into the sunshine to participate in the launch of Issue 6 of Exercises in Practical Mischievery – a series that archives the stories of notable individuals who have implemented out-of-the ordinary methods of distribution of words and thoughts – a description fitting for Pappa’s orchestration of the Helsinki gathering.

Whilst outside, we were invited to pour a drink of infused vodka, and join in a relay chorus of readings from the series. As one person begins to read the text out loud, another person interrupts and reads a different passage, who then is interrupted by someone else… a sonic collage of excerpts with each new voice overlapping the previous, forming a collective reading steered by impulse and interest in text. A wonderful demonstration of Pappa’s generosity of spirit (and spirits!) that encourages active public participation in her work – and in doing so, the work is reinvigorated in unpredictable and joyous ways.

Laura Pappa’s Helsinki Tangle Infused Vodka:

— seabuckthorn vodka
blackcurrant leaf vodka
— whitecurrant vodka
— lemon/dill flower/black pepper vodka
— nonalcoholic: black chokeberry juice

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