press release

The four elements and the basic concerns of man The theme of the Rauma Biennale Balticum of 2002 is Basic Elements. The biennial focuses especially on two perspectives – one related to the environment and the other to man. Earth, fire, water and air are the basic elements of our environment. But what are the core factors of an individual’s life? Often the main ones to be listed are human relations, love, health, work, economic well-being… But on the other hand, human life is regulated by things beyond our control. We are part of an endless chain of generations, where birth and death are the basic factors. We are surrounded by an infinite universe full of different realities. Some of the works of the exhibition are direct comments on the history of visual art or the basic levels of producing art – creativity and the starting points of art.

The Rauma Art Museum has staged exhibitions of the contemporary art of the Baltic Sea countries since 1985. The 2002 biennial is the ninth showing in this series. Finnish born internationally well known dancer and choreographer Virpi Pahkinen presents a solo dance performance June 14th at 8.30 pm at Poselli house (Nortamonkatu 12). An important element in the performance is an art work Expedition (1999) by Finnish artist Jussi Heikkilä. It is an installation made of a tripod, eagle-formed bottle, whisky and rubies.

Fire, air, earth and water Georg Dietzler (Germany, born 1958) is an environmental artist whose works address the question of social and political responsibility for the environment. In his works Dietzler grows fungi – oyster mushrooms, whose mycelia purify soil polluted by PCB without becoming toxic themselves. The mushrooms grow inside a closed structure in polluted soil, whose purification is monitored and analysed at regular intervals. Dietzler’s works relate to the survival and renewal of life regardless of the ecological threats caused by man.

Algis Lankelis (Lithuania, born 1964) has studied Zen-Buddhist thought and seeks ancient wisdom, truths and the basic values of humanity with the means of contemporary art. The bottles of fluids in his installation refer to water – the element that refreshes, cleanses and tends for life. The mirrors in the work reflect the image of the viewer to be part of the work. Underlying Lankelis’s works is also the concept of simplicity and the significance of everyday existence.

Andreas Oldoerp (Germany, born 1959) participates in the exhibition with a work consisting of flames in glass tubing. The precisely made pieces evoke associations with scientific laboratories and sacral space. In this work, light and sound emanate from the same source, a gas flame. While burning in the glass tube the flame produces a humming sound. The main focus of the work is on the audial space that it creates, in which the rising and falling pattern of sound created by two or several flame tubes changes according to the position of the listening viewer. This work also represents the interdependency of two elements – air is the necessary prerequisite of combustion for fire.

Everyday life, the agony and bliss of emotions Anu Tuominen (Finland, born 1961) makes works of art from everyday objects –colour pencils, thread, handkerchiefs, pot holders – which are often associated with the traditional crafts and household chores of women. For this exhibition she made a piece from buttons. She constructs wholes out of parts and gives objects new meanings. She establishes a distance to the mundane and the worthless, approaching her materials with a precision almost resembling scientific analysis that also contains a playful element and assigns a new meaning to them in a work of art. In these works unassuming materials come to life and things that have been discarded are given a place of honour.

Viggo Wallensköld (Finland, born 1969) paints works in oil representing difference and various kinds of human deviations from the norm. By depicting cripples, overweight people, anorexics and hermaphrodites, Wallensköld takes up the questions of the oppressive shackles of normality and conformity of human life, the universal loneliness of man, and the yearning for acceptance and togetherness.

Reality reduced – from cradle to grave Gintaras Makarevicius (Lithuania, born 1965) made the video work The Pit which resembles a documentary film. It tells of the grave diggers of a small rural village in Lithuania. Makarevicius’s video is based on the annual round of the seasons. Human life as part of the chain of generations is compared to the endless cycle of the seasons. The gravediggers, men of three generations of the same family, work together. Makarevicius depicts earth, plants, the natural surroundings, and the work and companionship of the men. This work is a naturalistic account of life and death.

Gintautas Martynaitis’s (Lithuania, 1935-1999) Reminiscences from an Icy Childhood is a collection of 30 drawings. In these detailed and telling works Martynaitis depicts memories of his childhood – life and hard work in severe Arctic conditions in a completely strange environment. In 1941, after the Soviet Union had occupied Lithuania, the Martynaitis family was deported to Trofimovsk in Siberia. Martynaitis worked as a radio engineer and he had no training as an artist, but his works express a rare crystallization of human experience, emotions, memories and the framework of life under hard conditions. Ene-Liis Semper (Estonia, born 1969) uses her own body in her art. Her video works are reduced events linked by their symbolism to the basic elements of life. Her video piece “Into a new home” represents unidirectional movement and displacement. Semper appears in the video as a character wrapped in white sheets. In the background is a landscape rolling by, a scene of fields glowing yellow. The work contains allusions to fertility, nature and the various levels of life –transition from one state to another via dreams or death.

Martin Sjöberg’s (Sweden, born 1967) “Disagreement” is a series of six large colour photographs of two men wrestling in the sand. Their sweaty and bloodied bodies express an image of aggressiveness. They similarity of the pictures points to a struggle without a victor. It is a situation similar to the myth of Sisyphus, in which perseverance, one of the basic elements of life, appears to lead nowhere.

Levels and history of art Afrika (Sergei Bugaev),( Russia, born 1966) makes works in which a focus on society can be seen. He has also used various public media in his art. For the Rauma Biennale Balticum Afrika presents a spatial work, whose elements are self-made musical instruments and a performance to be presented at the opening.

Franceska Kirke (Latvia, born 1954) is a painter with traditional art academy training who employs direct visual quotes from the history of art. Her works are a continuation of the grand narratives of painting, but with a new perspective. Kirke breaks down the visual plane of the traditional painting, establishing parallels and adding new pieces. She transforms visual themes from the history of art into a monochrome scale and uses hues of colour in only part of the painting. Kirke’s technique and the imagery of the paintings are highly traditional, but the pieces have been rearranged. Traditional academic painting technique has become rare in contemporary art.The glazes of the planes of colour, painting fluids, pigments and paints constitute the alphabet of oil painting, which is still used in constructing the world and reality of images.

Dominik Lejman (Poland, born 1969) combines painting and the video image. On show by him at Rauma are video works projected on the wall. Their theme is the human masses – standing, moving, floating in the air.. Lejman’s images are projected and immaterial. The work also includes drawings.

Virpi Pahkinen (Finland/Sweden, born 1966) is an internationally known Finnish-born dancer and choreographer mainly working is Sweden. She was chosen for the biennial because of her original dance style reflecting the basic levels of life. Pahkinen introduces the visual element of performing art to the exhibition. Her dance work will be performed at a function held at Poselli House in Rauma after the opening of the exhibition.

Rikard Silwärn’s (born 1966) plan for his work is entitled Starmaker. The name and the underlying idea come from the Polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem. In this piece, the workshop of the creator of the universe is a Kafkaesque office, where the stars, or star charts, are made with an old typewriter and carbon copy paper. This work combines human activity with the dimensions of infinity and treats the beginning and the creation of new things. The point has many meanings. It is the starting point and also the end of all things.

only in german

9th Rauma Biennale Balticum 2002
"Basic Elements"
Rauma Art Museum

Künstler: Sergej Bugajew Afrika, Georg Dietzler, Franceska Kirke, Algis Lankelis, Dominik Lejman, Gintaras Makarevicius, Gintautas Martynaitis, Andreas Oldörp, Virpi Pahkinen, Ene-Liis Semper, Rikard Silwärn, Martin Sjoberg, Anu Tuominen, Viggo Wallensköld