Opening: 28 October 2016, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 29 October 2016 – 14 January 2017
Ten years after Joakim Eskildsen completed his work on The Roma Journeys and after touring more than 30 venues, Gallery Taik Persons has the pleasure to present the project for the first time at its Berlin gallery.
Between 2000 and 2006 Joakim Eskildsen and writer Cia Rinne undertook journeys in seven different countries with a view to gaining an insight into the life of the Roma and the conditions they face. They visited Roma communities in Hungary, Greece, Romania, France, Russia, and Finland as well as possibly related groups in India, spending considerable lengths of time among the people whom they wanted to learn about and, where possible, they lived with them for a while, allowing them to build close connections to the families.
The project culminated in the award-winning book The Roma Journeys, to which Günter Grass contributed the foreword, comprising a series of almost 250 photographs by Eskildsen accompanied by Rinne’s essays introducing the visited Roma as well as a sound collage from each journey. It gives a rare insight to the life, history, and situation of the largest European minority.
In his photographic body of work, Eskildsen does not depict the Roma from a voyeuristic point of view but rather from the inside, allowing the viewer to be a close observer of their intimate moments and everyday lives. “We have been frequently asked what had triggered our interest in the Roma, but we were unable to provide a definitive, let alone exhaustive answer. What is certain is that, once we had started, it seemed impossible not to continue with the project. The more we found out about the Roma and got to know them, the more our interest in and liking for them grew,” Rinne and Eskildsen state.
The exhibition at Gallery Taik Persons presents the project in a different way from the touring exhibition: It gives an intimate insight not only into the photographs and the Roma communities but also in the way the book came about. Besides a number of early drafts of the book, showing the traces of several journeys, the exhibition features sets of nine photographs from each Roma community accompanied by two separate wall installations, one of which depicts the most emblematic work from the series in an impressive large-scale reproduction.
Throughout their history, the Roma have been subjected to persecution, expulsion, slavery, prohibitions on the use of the Romany language and other creative attempts to assimilate, misuse or extinguish their peoples. In Europe, attitudes towards them remain at least suspicious, and many still face direct discrimination. The Roma Journeys is not only a project of political force but also a greatly poetic and intimate insight into a rarely seen world.
Joakim Eskildsen was born in 1971 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He lives and works in Berlin.
Opening: 9 September 2016, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 10 September – 22 October 2016
Gallery Taik Persons is pleased to present Tanja Koljonen’s solo show Between Two Dots as part of EMOP – European Month of Photography 2016 in Berlin.
A red line running through Koljonen’s photographic works is the critical inquiry and artistic negotiation of polar opposites and complementary extremes: reason and instinct, rules and chance, communication and alienation, exposure and concealment. Based on objets trouvés and fragments of texts and images as traces of human inscription, the artist’s work sees an increased dealing with language, and the visual, material potential of words and ideas. Questioning notions of “true and false”, Koljonen’s particular interest is in the meanings generated “in-between” text and image. Through methods of cutting, covering, editing, and erasing, she assembles, reworks, and reframes details of newspaper images, found objects and photographs. Employing techniques of omission, the initial visual logic and semantic order of text and image are disrupted. Detached from their original function and meaning, as floating signifiers, the remaining lingual and visual fragments are refigured into new constellations and con-texts of possible dialogue. How does the viewer’s imagination bridge perceivable lingual-visual gaps? What kind of personal images are created in communicating with the viewed works? Which meanings do the unsaid, non-verbal, sub-vocal fulfill here?
Riddled with a subtly teasing humor, Koljonen contests language-specific ideas of lexicality, legibility, and intelligibility, and draws our attention to the ways in which language and reason are tied to one another, reminding us that we can never be sure of the truths and realities in things spoken and written, seen and heard. The exhibition title is thus to be comprehended as a reference to the signification processes and fields of tension at work “between two dots”: these dots mark, for example, the beginning and ending of a sentence, as implied in the exhibited Sentences Lie (2016), whose coiling image of a seemingly treacherous snake embodies the imagined sequence of words in a sentence; or, considering language more generally as a semiotic system, the moments of appearance and disappearance of a cloud, as in the installation Waiting for the Clouds to Vanish (since 2014). Comprising individually framed newspaper pages which have been almost completely covered by black-pigment paint, while the written information on the newspaper pages becomes obscured and devoid of function, singular rectangles are left uncovered, revealing glimpses of what we recognize as clouds, or fragments thereof; slowly to fade away over time, just like the written words.
If Waiting for the Clouds to Vanish possesses a gestural quality in Koljonen’s deliberately, highly accurately executed covering-up of text, then Filmstrips of Mountains (2015–16), made during the artist’s residency in China in 2015, presents a complementary juxtaposition, inasmuch as the gestural here fulfills opposite functions of creating, shaping, thus exposing form. For this work, Koljonen applied black paint to paper with a paint roller in singular gestural movements. The immediacy and accidentality of the spontaneous, one-time “brushstroke” gesture not only evokes visual form, style, and aesthetics of traditional Chinese ink landscape paintings, therein wittily countering the theme of monumental, all-enduring, eternal mountains. Further, suggested by way of visual reference to medium-format film negatives, the images’ truth claim as to the depiction of real, natural mountains is subverted.
In this exhibition, Koljonen essentially deals with the impossibility of complete thoughts. For the artist, the inexhaustibility of words and meanings translates as an “obsessive, repetitive search for a certain stillness in the chaotic flood of information” of today’s world, as she puts it; the reinterpretation of found materials through the photographic medium moreover aiming “to stretch the limits of a conventional image.” Habits and boundaries of seeing and reading are challenged and refigured, namely, through that what emerges and is constituted in the interstitial: an open space oscillating between different, often antagonistic poles⎯“between two dots.”
Tanja Koljonen was born in 1982 in Muonio, Finland. She lives and works in Helsinki, Finland.
Opening: 29 April 2016, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 30 April – ly2016
“We dream of traveling through the universe—but is not the universe within ourselves? The depths of our spirit are unknown to us—the mysterious way leads inwards. Eternity with its worlds—the past and future—is in ourselves or nowhere.” (Novalis, Philosophical Writings, p 25, Suny Press, 1997)
Gallery Taik Persons is pleased to present a selection of Adam Jeppesen’s œuvre from the series Flatlands Camp Project along with his most recent works in the solo exhibition entitled Vaca Muerta.
Seven years ago, the artist embarked on a 487 days unaccompanied and relentless journey taking him through the Americas from the Arctic to Antarctica. The presented works are devoid of people, only showing vast, isolated and savage landscapes, completely uninhabited—sometimes the high altitude and the extreme concentration of salinity renders the territory uninhabitable. The title of the exhibition derives from Adam Jeppesen recollecting an incident during his travels: “Years ago at the end of my solitary journey I found myself in the middle of nowhere: miles of deserted earth and water. The sense of loneliness vanished and at the same time built up in me again when I came upon a carcass of a dead cow. It was perfectly preserved in a place where it shouldn’t have been, a hostile environment where every life is endangered by just being there. Throughout my entire journey, and it never mattered wherever I was, I never forgot the sight of this dead cow. A few years later I went back and it was still there…”
Jeppesen’s journey has never ended; it continues through the postproduction of his pieces, in which every cut, every piece of paper and their union through the pins and the creases is no more and no less another step on the way.
Walk, gaze, breath, cut, place, tile and pin... all of these musical notes of the unusual and imperfect symphony that Adam Jeppesen’s oeuvre represent. His work touches several strands in form and content. When looking at the images more closely one will be drawn not only into a world of awe-inspiring landscapes but also a world of traces. Scratches and abrasions, and motes of dust on the images evoke in fact a story and its memories, the vivid proof of life, the lived journey. By accepting the flaws, Jeppesen tries to move away from perfection; something that the classical photographic techniques mainly aspire to accomplish. In terms of processing, he employs ephemeral materials such as photocopies, pins and rice paper among others as opposed to traditional photography. Henceforth, his practice is a metamorphosis from being a photographic image towards becoming a sculptural object. The tangibility that accompanies the use of these materials increases the three-dimensional perception of the pieces.
In his recent pieces Jeppesen extends his photographic practice by taking the complete process into the field, where a unique photograph is created in situ. He exposes the image right on the photographic paper, requiring it to be developed within hours of exposure. Hence, protected by the darkness of the night, Jeppesen develops the images right there in the beastly surroundings of the captured landscapes. The unique character of the works therefore evolves through this process and the information on the image being lost in parts, showing the imperfection and the ephemerality of the moment and of existence itself.
Adam Jeppesen was born in Kalunborg in 1978. He lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Jeppesen graduated from Fatamorgana, Copenhagen, in 2004. Recent solo exhibitions include X at Galerie Van der Mieden in Bruxelles (2014), Scatter at Peter Lav Gallery, Copenhagen (2014) and group shows including Fotografisk Center 20 Years – an anniversary exhibition, Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen, 2016, The Return of the Real at Niels Borch Jensen Gallery, Berlin (2014). In July 2016, he has a solo show at C/O Berlin. His works are part of numerous public collections, among which are Denver Art Museum, The Danish Arts Foundation, The Swedish Arts Foundation, The National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen, as well as a large number of private collections in Europe and abroad.
Gallery Taik Persons proudly presents Milja Laurila’s most recent works in the solo exhibition In Their Own Voice raising the questions of the apparent transparency of our pictorial realm and the act of being looked at. Who is looking and whom is the gaze being focused on? How do we look at a body, a child, a woman, a man, the world? Are we looking without seeing? We are observing, but the sight might penetrate its target, see distorted, drift away. Laurila questions if photographs have the ability to forget what they once were proof of. She asks, if images detached from their original context, still remain related to the original semantic field or transform into something else. Can an image of a young girl’s spine suffering from scoliosis transform without captions into a sculptural beauty?
A characteristic trait of Laurila’s work is using borrowed image material, in this case taken from old medical books. She is interested in how the concept of knowledge is constructed through images. The dialogue between a context and a photograph especially fascinates her – how it adjusts and directs our perception. According to Roland Barthes*, all photographs are defined by the reference; a photograph can never be totally excluded from what it presents. Barthes points out that a photograph has an inevitable relation to reality — hence also the power of being evidence. Laurila as well plays with the ability of a photograph to transmit the representation of reality. By detaching the images from their original context, the artist places them in a challenging position; she lets them speak on their own, in their own voice. Nevertheless a female’s bare curved hip stays the same, but depending on the knowledge or ignorance, our eyes perceive medical symptoms, imperfections, or the poetry of the human body.
Laurila’s interest towards pictures of patients stems from a personal experience, where she was observed through the eyes of science, turning her body into an object of research. “As I was standing naked in front of a doctor and her camera, I felt myself disappearing — I was mere flesh and blood, not an individual with thoughts and feelings. Even though the doctor was photographing my body meticulously, it felt as if she was looking right through me — as if I wasn’t there.” The physical experiences described by Laurila can also be projected onto the images of the unknown patients. The viewer’s gaze meets the skin of the photographed, wanders along the arms, fondles the shoulders, but does not recognize a person or identity. The symbiosis between visual perception and tactile sense creates a captivating dissonance, the clinically photographed figures seem distant but the beholders can almost touch their skin with their eyes. In this light, the architect Juhani Pallasmaa* has stated that all the senses including vision are extensions of the tactile sense as factually eyes are skin during the fetal stage. According to Pallasmaa we can see with our skin, which functions as a border and simultaneously a connection of the external and inner world. Likewise in Laurila’s works the skin performs as a boundary surface of the gaze.
In many aspects, the bodily experience is present in Laurila’s works. The half-naked bodies are printed on transparent acrylic glass, which makes the figures translucent, almost weightless. The vitreous prints, which can be associated with the glass plates used in photography, work as a metaphor for the fragility of the portrayed subjects. The clear and hard material enables the figures to be formed through chiaroscuro as three-dimensional reflections on the walls. These soft shadows are bound to the movement of the viewer. Maurice Merleau-Ponty* discloses the idea that we don’t come to the artwork to look at it, but to see the world through it. This viewpoint is fulfilled in a poetic way when we encounter Laurila’s delicate human figures, who instead of representing the depicted individuals are actually reflecting our way of perceiving the world.
Gallery Taik Persons is highly pleased to present Anni Leppälä with new works in her solo exhibition the light of other days in Berlin.
Leppälä’s works draw landscapes of the interior. With their acute sensibility of color and power of composition, they speak beyond the representational realm of words. Her motifs function as visual signifiers-⎯non-verbal metaphors and symbols⎯that carry concealed, ambiguous meanings. They are to be grasped and experienced through tacit knowledge similar to an oneiric state of consciousness, rather than logical reasoning. Leppälä aims to reveal the invisible routes that lead us from the tangible to the oblique image, which can be released through the evocation of a certain memory, an emotion, an anxiety. Moreover, the connectivity among the individual images she creates is a significant aspect of her work approach. This is reflected in the arrangement of the works within the exhibition space as a holistic installation, also taking into consideration the unfilled areas in-between the hung works, and thereby leaving space for associative, “third” images to emerge within the beholder. As settings for her works, Leppälä chooses natural surroundings such as secluded forests, the outside and inside spaces of abandoned countryside dwellings, or the more abstract topographies of material surfaces including wood, plastered walls, and wallpaper. As with her older work series, the solemn and graceful adolescents who figure in many pieces seem to indicate themes of childhood, remembrance, and threshold.
As Leppälä states, her interest in photography lies in „its capacity to transform its subjects.” Through the testing of frontiers imposed by our rational understanding of things, in what could be called her images-beyond-images, or landscapes-beyond-landscapes, Leppälä has developed a deep and rich visual program of signature style. A color that continues to inhabit her compositions is the fiery orange-red of sunlight, which tints Leppälä‘s white winterscapes and dark woody-green trees in a surreally luminous, yet strikingly organic afternoon glow. The tangle of long bright red hair belonging to a young girl similarly recurs, camouflaged at times by the strong reflections of sunlight. In fact, reflection, and the very act of seeing as a process of both cognition and recognition, appear to be at the heart of Leppälä‘s inquiry: either the protagonists of her works are turned away from view and only shown from behind or with obscured faces, or they confront us and look us straight into the eye, leaving us with nowhere else to escape to, and, moreover, with the question of who is gazing at whom. It is in this way that the motif of long, thick hair pursues its multiple meanings: as a veil to hide behind or bury oneself into; a safe home that offers protection from the outside world, yet also a forest-like labyrinth in which to get lost; moreover, a curtain providing a frame of perspective; and essentially, a border between in- and external. Leppälä‘s protagonists, us included, thus frame and are framed; by the others as well as themselves.
Leppälä‘s works are full of subtle paradoxes. The most enchanting one seems to be their emphasis on a condition inherent to the photographic genre: a concurrent expansion of presence and absence, in that the images capture both something that is, here and now, and something that was, past and gone forever. Characteristic aspects of Leppälä‘s work that we were already familiar with appear to have now become more intense, more distinct, more uncompromising. The surfaces of seemingly empty walls, and the close-ups of their corners and cracks, are imbued with life and dense atmosphere, breathing an air of their own. Doorways, windows, and peep holes invite us to enter and explore. The visual landscapes revealed in their abstract patterns⎯they engulf us, charm us, and at the same time retain something inaccessible.