Opening: 15 September 2017, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 16 September – 28 October 2017
In living a life there are very few guarantees, but experiencing loss is one emotional hurdle we all will face at some given point. How we handle it depends upon its nature, but the death of a loved one carries its own signature. It is a fundamental human experience that can bring solace for some and the loss of self for others. Rebecca Solnit once wrote, „to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions like Arctic tundra or a sea of ice“ (from The Faraway Nearby, 2013). This is the starting point in understanding Hilla Kurki‘s newest body of work Fallen Feathers (from the Phoenix series).
It begins with her sister’s death at the early age of 28 and how Kurki incorporates this personal tragedy into her own story, using her grief as stepping-stones towards a New Becoming. She transforms her sister’s forgotten black dresses into a bridge to link us through to her memories in hope of self-recovery. Kurki‘s photographs have a familiar feel to Yoko Ono‘s early performances from the 1960s, where she sits upon a stage in a self-induced trance while members of the audience come forward to cut pieces from her clothing. In a similar fashion, we see Kurki in Phoenix Piece (2016), dressed in one of her sister’s full length designs, blankly staring into the camera. Slowly, over 36 individual frames she begins cutting from the bottom to the top in one continuous strip until, ultimately, she is naked. The photograph appears to be a documentation of a performance, however there is no audience apart from herself and her continuous inner dialogue. Kurki seeks another avenue, one that approaches self-recovery through her family’s legacy of weaving.
The tradition of cutting clothes of the deceased to weft. What could not be used was remodeled, deconstructed and then reconstructed as a form of pragmatic exorcism. By cutting, sewing and weaving, Kurki works through all her sister’s collected garments to reshape her personal story, to enable her to take back the authority to determine her own fate. In Kurki‘s own words she states, „Something is lost but something is reborn. It is a tender annihilation.“
What is essential in all of her works is the juxtaposition between the living body and the materiality of the textiles. These images portray a play within what we see and how it touches us. They set the stage where form meets the tactility of how it could feel. The dresses are symbolic vestiges, incomplete empty shells invoking the absence of presence. These compositions of Kurki‘s fall into the same shadow of Annika von Hauswolff’s piece, The memory of my mothers underwear transformed into a flameproof drape (2003), in how they seem to loom over the viewer, remaining both softly aloof yet menacing at the same time.
Hilla Kurki has gradually learned that sorrow can be grown out of like a snake’s skin can be shed. She states, „One cannot empty out an emotion just by feeling it. One can overcome it and learn to own it, by meticulously re-telling it“. This follows a long history of female artists who renegotiate the past through self-reflection and re-evaluation of their own families’ relationships and how a profound experience can endlessly resonate. Like a stone cast into a pond we are left with just a ripple, reminding us of the impact.
Hilla Kurki was born in Anjalankoski, Finland, in 1985. She lives and works in Helsinki. Kurki is currently pursuing her Master studies at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Her recent exhibitions include Landscape Transformed, Myymälä2 (Helsinki, 2016), Error, Jukka Male Museum (Helsinki, 2016) and Summer School, The Finnish Museum of Photography (Helsinki, 2013).
Opening: 30 June 2017, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 1 July – 9 September 2017
Gallery Taik Persons is highly pleased to present Nelli Palomäki with her solo exhibition Shared. Palomäki’s photography, continuously pioneering the tradition of classic black-and-white portraiture, has established the artist among the most celebrated to evolve from the Helsinki School and Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture over the past decade. Shared explores the complex theme of siblinghood, decipherable in its powerful, dynamic manifestations of human relationships and familial bonds. The captivating portraits of this series focus on children and young adults as subjects, who are shown solemnly engaged in situations and constellations that reveal their identities as siblings; a shared identity shaped ambiguously by elements of togetherness and separateness alike. The artist’s dedication to the theme of siblings has grown out of personal observations and experiences made in the context of past work and exhibition projects centered on children and adolescents. Without a doubt, the life-changing momentum of becoming a mother of two children herself has also affected Palomäki’s recent and current work.
Siblinghood describes a carnal bond that we are born into. It is inherent to the human condition, it is unchosen. As siblings, we are forced to be close, to carry the same name, the same inheritance. Simultaneously, the state of being sibling implants in us the potential to fate our lives by expressing difference. Sometimes, a simple gesture of the hand, the raising of an eyebrow, or a slight change in body posture can possess the power to demarcate whole dimensions of unison and partition, commonality and individuality, resonance and dissonance. Once friend, once foe; closest allies, most rivaled competitors¾the subtle hierarchies of power between siblings are continuously shifting. A heartfelt embrace can turn into a heated wrestle within seconds: this is the shared life of siblings.
Through her portraits, Palomäki aspires to capture these facets of shared siblinghood in all its physical, psychological, and emotional complexity. Though nearly every portrait is carefully planned and staged beforehand, an element of the accidental is always retained, thus animating the work with unforeseen results and revelations, and carrying a magic life of its own. Here, the act of posing presents a crucial moment, in Palomäki’s words, being “the moment when a person changes into an image.” The way the sitters perceive and present themselves¾as autonomous individuals as well as in direct rapport, literally entwined, with one another¾determines which stories are told through their portraits, whether intentionally or not: these stories range from tokens of solidarity and appreciation, and caring moments in sync, to struggles for equality and recognition; from assertions of authority, to the search for emancipation. The adolescent age of Palomäki’s subjects makes the threshold nature of siblinghood all the more present: while the somber discovery of alterity and unhomeliness in a seemingly familiar world marks the end of our childhood innocence, novel feelings of estrangement are likewise reflected in our changed perception of self and other as sisters and brothers.
In photographing the kindred sitters, most of whom initially are strangers to her, Palomäki seeks to come closer to them. Next to her essential focus on light, of utmost importance is that the portrait result in a work imbued with the presence of both the portrayed and the portrayer. She chooses her sitters carefully, for she knows that with each portrait, a unique, binding encounter comes into effect. The moment of intimacy shared between those before and behind the camera can, and, in Palomäki’s view, even should be of discomforting quality. It may not only bring forth power structures among the sitters, but also between the sitters and their portrayer. She states: “Each and every portrait I have taken is a photograph of me too. […] [T]he intensity of the moment shared with the subject controls the portrait. […] One is blind and lost without seeing one’s own appearance, the other desperately trying to reach the perfect moment. The complexity of portraiture, its greatest trap, eventually always lies in its power relationships.” As viewers, in responding to the portrayed subjects who gaze at us tenaciously, vulnerably, we are also seeing Palomäki’s gaze, and sharing with her our own, thus becoming akin.
Opening: 28 April 2017, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 29 April – 24 June 2017
Finding Bones is more than just the introduction of a newly rediscovered body of work by Grey Crawford. It’s an anthology of photographs that embody the creative spirit that was prevalent throughout the Los Angeles art scene at the time. Southern California in the early 1970’s was an island of its own creation. A mixture of surf and sea, concrete highways winding around an ever-changing cultural climate that was challenging our assumptions of what art is. It was a moment of new beginnings in various medias. The Light and Space movement combined with Performance and Ceramic art ushered in a fresh rawness to a seemingly tired media lending artists new age materials and issues to fuel their innovative experimentations. With the commercial realities lagging far in the rear of their creative counter parts, artists found themselves in a position not to compromise their artistic integrity for the hope of selling something that wouldn’t happen anyway. Conventional means for evaluating art no longer mattered as there was no script to follow. It was a time hiccup the art world would feel forever.
Los Angeles is a city with a sprawling suburban outlay that seemingly stretches forever. In its far eastern sector it hosts a small but culturally important city called Claremont. Home to five colleges and a graduate school it has been a mecca for artists of all disciplines since the 1920’s. This is where I first met Grey Crawford who we commonly call “Bones” as we were both growing up in this liberal thinking community eventually reuniting while attending the Claremont Graduate University. However small the town might be, it was wealthy with former professors and alumni that included the hard edge painters John McLaughlin and Karl Benjamin. Both were considered locals and it wasn’t unusual to see their paintings hanging in neighbourhood homes. Crawford who grew up with Benjamin’s children was exposed to these various shapes and forms at early age and absorbed them into his subconscious.
This is most evident in Crawford’s early black-and-white photographs that combine Benjamin’s sense of construction with McLaughlin’s zen-like capacity for reduction. By using the darkroom as his palette, Crawford chooses his selected backgrounds with a Lewis Baltz like sense of austerity as a means for introducing these hard edge shapes and using them as the building blocks for his own language.
Sometimes we find what we don’t expect in the most unlikely places. As a boy I used to dig in my own backyard searching for buried treasures that I only dreamed were there. After fourty years of searching, I finally found my “Bones.”
Opening: 20 January 2017, 6 – 9 pm
Exhibition: 21 January – 19 April 2017
Gallery Taik Persons is highly pleased to present Marked Sites, our first exhibition in 2017, featuring works by Jaakko Kahilaniemi, Jyrki Parantainen, and Anna Reivilä.
The exhibition and its title refer to Rosalind E. Krauss’ essay Sculpture in the Expanded Field (1979), in which she presents the theory of the ‘expanded field’ to explain the development of the definition of sculpture in contemporary art. In her theory, she refers to so-called “marked sites” as a “combination of landscape and non-landscape.” Krauss not only names Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970) and Michael Heizer’s Double Negative (1969) in that context, but also works that “operate through the application of impermanent marks,” like Walter De Maria’s Mile Long Drawing (1968) or Robert Smithson’s Mirror Displacements (1969). All of them being assigned to the Land Art or Earth Art movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when artists took art out of the gallery context and photography, drawings, texts, and further documentary methods where often the only means to show the projects to a wider public due to their locations, their monumentality, or their ephemerality.
Jyrki Parantainen’s Maa [Earth] series from 1991 for instance reminds of the more monumental works. Parantainen, however, employs his camera not only as a mere documentary but rather as a creational tool. He used different materials from milk through crushed chalkstone to light and fire in order to ‘paint’ on the negative while using long-time exposures to track and trace what was in front of the camera.
Anna Reivilä’s Bond series (2014–ongoing) on the other hand reminds more of impermanent works like Smithson’s Mirror Displacements: similarly to his use of mirrors, in Reivilä’s rope-drawn lines, the beholder gets a different point of view by focusing on the shapes of the subjects, moreover the connections and natural tensions between them. Being furthermore strongly influenced by the Japanese bondage tradition of kinbaku [the beauty of tight binding] and Nobuyoshi Araki’s oeuvre, she marks in her works the “delicate balance between being held together and being on the verge of breaking,” as the artist states.
Jaakko Kahilaniemi’s works from the series 100 Hectares of Understanding represent a more subjective access point. While both Parantainen and Reivilä seek for abandoned places to leave their marks in, Kahilaniemi enters a very personal territory: an inherited piece of forest, owned by his family for generations. To reconnect with this for him previously unalluring land, he rediscovers it by measuring the 100 hectares in a rather abstract and experimental way. Kahilaniemi walks and interacts with the forest marking the sites and documenting his actions photographically to open up a topic apart from the urbanized world.