4 Dec 2018


Jesse Auersalo: Hold Me In Your Arms ( And Never Let Me Go) – Graphic Designer of the Year 2015 Exhibition

22 – 30 August, HIAP Gallery Augusta / Project Space, Suomenlinna
Welcome to the opening on Friday 21 August, 6-9pm!

Science fiction writer Ursula K. LeGuin was right to note that the first tool in our evolutionary history was not a weapon, but a carrier bag: “We’ve heard it, we’ve all heard about all the sticks and spears and swords, the things to bash and poke and hit with, the long, hard things, but we have not heard about the thing to put things in, the container for the thing contained.” (The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, 1986)

To celebrate his Graphic Designer of the Year award, Jesse Auersalo puts up an exhibition about plastic bags. “The idea comes from my own plastic bag collection, which I’ve accumulated during my travels,” Auersalo explains. “The bags serve not only as carriers of things but also of meaning, representing different places and events. My favorite bag is from Chinatown, New York. It’s hard plastic and kind of ugly. The text and the base color are so close that it’s hard to tell them apart. This bag, among many others, has continued its life in my luggage as a means of classification: that’s where the socks go.”

Beyond their esthetics and organizing function, Auersalo is interested in plastic bags as communication devices: “While a luxury shopping bag may carry the kind of status value that amounts to its reuse as an accessory, a bag from a local grocery store is the most mundane thing to walk around with. It often ends up lining a garbage bin. Some shopping bags, like the blue IKEA bag, have transcended their original role by becoming the main item of interest, primary to what they hold within.” Furthermore, Auersalo has been observing the ways in which things get exhibited or concealed within plastic bags and how the closing of a bag hints at its contents: “Think of a knot in a bag of garbage versus a seal on a gift bag, for example. The latter can be read as an invitation while the former likens more to a warning.”

Auersalo’s sustained exploration of plastic bags, starting from still lifes of debris, is based on an uneasiness with the illusion of a pristine object world where everything is seen as replaceable after the first sign of wear. “At worst, a weakly built thank-you-for-shopping bag doesn’t even make it home from the corner deli in one piece,” he describes. “At the same time, our plastic refuse is blocking sewers and forming giant continents in the oceans.”

The silkscreen printed plastic bags in Auersalo’s exhibition show, very concretely, how one man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. By displaying the bags in different uses – from recycled conversation pieces to objects wrapped around a head – the illustrator and artist seeks to provoke questions about their afterlife, which often exceeds, for good and for worse, whatever use or meaning was originally assigned to them. Plastic, in Roland Barthes’ words, is the very idea of its infinite transformation: “It is less a thing than the trace of a movement” (Mythologies, 1957).

The exhibition includes works Auersalo has created together with Osma Harvilahti, Helen Korpak, Mikko Ryhänen and Samu Viitanen.

The Graphic Designer of the year by Grafia is awarded annually for merits and success in the field of graphic design or based on other actions that improve the quality and appreciation of graphic design.

The exhibition is sponsored by Grafia − Association of Visual Communication Designers in Finland, in co-operation with HIAP.