sunnuntai 11. marraskuuta 2012

KESTO curatorial texts


In Finnish language 'Kesto' has several meanings: for example durability, duration, endurance, time frame and run-time.  It refers to ability to stand something ("I can't take it no more" -Theo Parrish), or how long some acitivity will take  ("A great Objection arises from the regular and very lasting Motions of the Planets and Comets in all manner of Courses through the Heavens." -Sir Isaac Newton).

In the exhibition artists present works where Kesto manifests itself in poetic ways through mediums of painting, photography, sculpture, sound and video. 'Kesto' relates also closely to the word 'patience'.  "The name of the game is patience" -Robert Lax.

Artists: Juha van Ingen (FIN), Ida Koitila (FIN), Laura Könönen (FIN), Geno Lechner (DE), Tuomo Laakso (FIN), Antti Nyyssölä (FIN), Kyösti Pärkinen (FIN), Seppo Renvall (FIN),
Marko Vuokola (FIN).

Curated by Jarkko Räsänen in collaboration with Musterzimmer.
The exhibition has been supported by Art Council of Finland.


Like a fly, I get stuck gazing at the colors shining from the curtains at Musterzimmer's window display. The contrast between the dark Berlin winter night and the radiating glow reminds me of heliotherapy. It is a version of video work 'Web-safe' by Juha van Ingen, that presents a slideshow of 216 colors. These colors are a map. They were defined in one of the first diplomatic contracts of the United States of the Cyber World, in a way, that they would look the same on different computer screens using 8-bit video cards in the mid-nineties. van Ingen has produced different versions of the work for different mediums - a fact that emphasizes the transformability (= the capacity to create a fundamentally new system when ecological, economic, or social/ political conditions make the existing system untenable) of media art. In Kesto exhibition the work is re-interpreted again: Video turns the white curtains into a flag of ever-changing minimalistic heraldry, or into a quasimodo fashion doll of augmented reality, that reminds about the link between the pan-optical frames-per-second-spectacle & the early information network called 'city'. The flickery LCD-projection brings the colorscape back to the crime scene, to the original urban screen, to the ultimate interface known as 'window display' of the half-private, half-public microcosmos of a 'salon'. Even Walter Benjamin understood city as part of art's  significance field, and also how new technologies shape the perception abilities of people.

Inside: Old fashioned vinyl player plays the snap, crackle and pop. A virus sculpted out of Finnish ground-rock: granite. A mythical substance addressed with qualities of durability and adamance to the extent that deep geological repositories for nuclear waste are made out of it. Diamond needle is scratching the surface of the disk, amplifying the friction into the sound of silence played back on home stereos. The dusty soundscape evolves slowly as the needle endlessly digs the track deeper, creating rhytmic patterns of organic noise. If the Earth could talk, this is closest I can imagine it would sound like. Audiologist Jonathan Hazell states, that our hearing system developed in a sound-rich environment, with nature sounds ever present, and it is adapted to this type of sound background: "It is only over the last few hundred years that buildings have effectively excluded these sounds. Modern architecture is one very important cause of the present increase of tinnitus and hyperacusis." 

In the photograph by Geno Lechner a sculptural figure out of flesh and water covers his face with his hands. There appears to be nearly calligraphic writing in his arm: "analog". Skin as the ultimate notebook! I do have friends who write the most important reminders on their hands instead of electronic memos or sketchbooks. In Christopher Nolan's film Memento, main character with anterograde amnesia uses tattoos and writings on his skin as tool for recollection. The text "analogue" could remind the character that he is not digital. On the other hand, writing is lying for viewer that the person in the photograph is analogue, even though the person is simulation; a printed digital photograph. Ceci n'est pas une pipe? In the world of lucid dreaming, looking at your hands is a good reality check, and also a way to stabilase your dreams. As some sufi mystician suggested, "if you are not yet awake, go back to sleep."

Kyösti Pärkinen's painting is a dazzling combination of photographic presicion resulted by crispy and contrasty flakes familiar from decorations of the floor panels commonly used in official buildings, and smoldering reddish background divided by thin white mathematical grid - with a hint of a gentle gradient suggesting another dimension within the flatness of the paint: a perspective, a landscape, or even a horizon. The paradoxical elements wake the painting into a hallusinogenic moving image – like life on film that flashes front of your eyes, before you hit your face to the floor, just before entering into the unreal twilight zone of the Self, between sleeping and waking, like that in the Nabokov's short story from 1920's Berlin, the Eye. A frozen moment before the crucial encouter with the Ground. A moment, when you realize at the same time how beautiful the floor panels are, and that soon it is going to hurt. Time and perception are subjective after all. The world maybe illusion, an illusion or my illusion, but as poet Robert Lax ends his insight: "(…)the / world / is / one / of / my / illusions".

Is it Jacqueline Kennedy? Or how do you spell her name? Is that a photo or is it a painting? Antti Nyyssölä's untitled mixed media work is taped on the wall with adhesive silver duct tape, what they call in Scandinavia "Jesus tape" (because it saves you in all situations). The surface of the image is made out of shiny brown packing tape - this one is a tool of transportation, not fixing. Behind the surface there is a smeared print of a woman's face. As if the mysterious face would have been transferred on the glue tape almost by accident, sometimes in the past. Like the Shroud of Turin, eternalized like an insect inside amber. Nyyssölä's artist book also carries similar qualities of silent, hieroglyphic uncertainity: paintings, drawings, sketches, receipts - almost any/everything! - but ordered with static, passionate and systematic structure. A holy book in forgotten language? Or maybe a holy book from future, written in some language we yet don't fully understand…

Candles are clocks and lights combined, like sun or moon. They used to be the primary source of light and time measuring. Nowadays they are mostly used to light special and atmospheric situations, like dinners, conversations and those special romantic moments. As the light disappears, the candle wax remains. In Ida Koitilas sculpture it covers a secret: only fragments of blue ropes and chains - that might as well be made out of the same wax - remain visible. You can touch the soft skin of it, and it confuses you even more. This is a sculpture that escapes names and concepts, even the very primary ones related to touch. Let me try to catch it: It's a heavyweight bowling ball inside the avalanche of phenomenology! It's a core meltdown of the chronosentric clockwork motor of the Heart!

Experimental photography at it's best. Seppo Renvall's unique style in film-making, where honest do-it-yourself attitude has sophisticated into a masterful craftsmanship, is recognizable in his new photographic works. Renvall has made a large format pinhole camera and hand developed the film himself. The abstract first sight of the photograph reveals soon fundamental Finnish imagery that is loaded with pointers to important historical questions: glimpses of pine trees that surround a traditional forest house, with a group of people posing on the front of it - just like in old family portraits from the beginning of the last century. The apparatus of photography confuses the viewer suffering from megapixel myth syndrome and photoshop blinded eye: The small frames spread around the paper like spurts of paint amidst the cloud-like abstract layers of black and white film grain are not spread in time, like in moving image, but in perspective, as the negative is exposed only once with multiple pinholes of the camera. Things that look old are not always old, and old means can be better than a bagful of new ones. 

Two identical photographs from Purnu, almost. There are differences. Actually that's all there is. Marko Vuokola's photographic series 'Seventh Wave' consists of pairs of detailed, large format photographs taken at the same location but at different times. In the realm of obsessive measuring (empirical science) this could be called the shortest nature film in the world: documentary about Finnish [mental] landscape, where everything happens at the same time, but only for the most sensitive ones. The name of the series refers to the film 'Papillon': "Papillon returned to the regular prisoner population on Royal Island after being 'cured' of his mental illness. He requested that he be transferred to Devil's Island, the smallest and most 'inescapable' island in the Îles de Salut group. Studying the waters around the island, Papillon discovered a rocky inlet surrounded by a high cliff. He noticed that every seventh wave was large enough to carry a floating object far enough out into the sea that it would drift towards the mainland." -Synopsis. So how does Vuokola know when to press the shutter button again? How do you count waves of light or waves of air? Seventh wave is a synonym for the right moment, for a decision based on intuition, and that wave is visible only for the third eye.

Vanitas, baroque, stilleben… But obviously Finnish simplicity and… what is that vegetable again? Rutabaga used to be a symbol of damned soul in Scotland, and it tastes delicious. In the contemporary art scene, the extreme simplicity combined with careful dexterity of Tuomo Laakso, who has studied classical painting in famous Russian school is brave, surprising, poetic, and to the point. Realistic painting is more interesting than ever, as it deals with time and space from more anthropocentric view than the lens based media surrounding us: so far only human-beings have been able to interpret a view perceived with two eyes as two-dimensional surface. But doing that is slow and subtle work, as is the decoding (looking) at the painting.  In the other still-life there is still life inside rutabaga: it has started to germinate, maybe during the painting process. I get lost carried away in moving my head around, as the light reflects from different angles to varnish revealing beautiful organic structures of the wood plane behind the image. 

Jarkko Räsänen