17 Dec 2018


Still Light

19 June – 17 August, Gallery Augusta

The fourth annual HIAP summer exhibition at Gallery Augusta in Suomenlinna presents a curated selection of artworks born out of the artist residencies during 2010–13. As a highly particular space-time for creative work, residency as a moment of pause meets a slowness of pace and extended durations of light and darkness here. It encourages heightened awareness of the surroundings and allows us to question what it means to be inspired by nature today.

The works on display, produced at HIAP by Giulia Cenci, Mariona Moncunill, Guillaume Paris and Martin Healy, are all rooted in the manifold Helsinki landscape, activating a space of critical encounter, where the focus shifts from the familiar to the unknown. What they share, at first glance, is an engagement with a still surface – snow, water, architecture – and yet the works transform this from an impenetrable image into a space inhabit.

The exhibition also opens HIAP’s residency archive to the public. A new commission by Minna Henriksson gives an insight into the complex processes of research, production and exchange involved in artist residencies. Henriksson has delved into the 15-year history of HIAP and mapped out the tangled relationships between artists, institutions, geography and economics, all of which impact on the arts now, both here and across the globe.

Giulia Cenci‘s first encounter with Helsinki, at the Cable Factory Studios in November 2012, focused her attention on the many shades of grey. With subtle gestures she drew veils of water and shadow into threshold areas where it is no longer fully possible to distinguish between interior and exterior – as in her installation at HIAP, in which the traces of rain are of uncertain origin. She was invited back to revisit this context in what is literally a different light, and to create a new intervention in the exhibition space in response to it.

Mariona Moncunill experienced the cityscape under thick snow at the beginning of 2013, and also came across the dormant Botanical Garden in Helsinki’s city centre. Reminiscent of a graveyard, it was devoid of life, apart from one or two indicative signs, as if it had been turned into a pure taxonomical system cleansed of all unruly organic lifeforms. Similarly, in Every visible sign without visible plant (2013), the garden appears like a map that invites exploration, activating a space of imagination and translation between the absoluteness of scientific knowledge and the natural world to which it refers.

Guillaume Paris‘ film Bad Anima (2012) was created on a production residency in 2011–12. Taking an iconic picture of a Finnish lake as his starting point, Paris broke the mirror surface of the image, allowing it to speak to us about all that lies hidden beneath. What monsters lie buried in the depths of our relationship with and representations of nature? Local cultural references from folklore are intertwined with associations from beyond these shores, ranging from popular culture to urgent ecological issues.

Martin Healy captured the eeriness of white summer nights in his film Fugue (2011) during his residency in 2010. A lone man wandering around the deserted utopian garden-city landscape of the suburb of Tapiola creates a heightened sense of the uneasy coexistence between the natural and the modern built environment. It also hints at an uncertainty about where this everyman belongs, and what it is that he is estranged from, while the title refers to a psychological disorder, or dual consciousness, that causes the individual to switch between identities and competing temporalities.

The exhibition is curated by Taru Elfving with the curatorial assistance of Viivi Koljonen, Jenni Nurmenniemi and Tomasz Szrama.