As the art world seems to be stuck in a limbo over the battle between representation and post-representation, Tiina Raitanen‘s solo exhibition Jatkumo / Continuum in Gallery Aarni gives, with a clear pictorial voice and a sturdy backdrop of concept, a good reason for representation and a good set of questions about the act itself.
Through representation artists have, since the dawning of their trade, given meaning and value to individuals, events, objects and histories. To be Re-Presented in an art work means receiving an audience, a spot in history, a life-after-death. It makes things real and unreal at the same time – it’s thought of as a privilege and an honor meant only for beings that somehow deserve it. To represent is a political act. Today it is also, artistically, an act of controversy. “Why representation?” is a question that now almost always follows its taking place.
Visiting Jatkumo / Continuum with Raitanen she explains, with a light laughter, how the cleaner had first tidied away her work Sculptures of Shavings that now lay in their place on the gallery floor. The cleaner’s vision of what is art and what is not resulted in a hectic scavenge hunt, looking for the representation of excess in bin bags full of excess itself.
Herein lies the intricacy of Raitanen’s work. The excess, that which is not The Point, continues to be, becoming The Point itself. Wood shavings, left over from the act of carving an art work are studied and represented in sculptural form. The actual shavings accompany other excess material from previous works, filling up a white gallery wall, (re)turning over once more into art and into a question about art [Container (It’s hard to get rid of things)]. The material moves the artist. It moves through and with her. It stays, in continuum, representing itself but not just that, rather, representing that which the artist loves (or perhaps hates?) about it – the work, the process, the art-making.
“Why representation” is an important question. It would seem that this is a question Raitanen keeps asking herself, and, to me, her exhibition represents the act of asking. It also situates itself on the foamy waves of contemporary art as a field. Raitanen is painstakingly aware of her actions and their relationship to her trade both before and after today. She places her works on the lifeline of art, researching the act of standing in its middle. Vallgren’s Shadows appear to oscillate on the gallery floor like pools of wet metal, summoning the presence of not only the previous works of Raitanen herself but those of other artists, too. Raitanen has a place in her trade, but it is not one that bows and curtseys – it stands firmly rooted, with love and awareness, questioning itself and its surroundings. Here the past and the future of representation would seem to be able to co-exist, for the continuum has been taken into consideration.
Tiina Raitanen: Jatkumo / Continuum, 25.4.–19.5.2013
Galleria Aarni, Ahertajantie 5, Tapiola
Tiina Raitanen (1983) lives and works in Helsinki. She has graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki in 2012 with an MA in Fine Art. She has exhibited widely in Finland both in solo and group shows.
Hanna Ohtonen (1978) studies curating in CuMMA in the Aalto University.