Eija-Liisa Ahtila is a masterly and fascinating story-teller in moving images. Her filmic installations challenge the boundaries of our identities and overturn our perceptions of time and space. Her occasionally super-realistic scenarios are based on everyday human experiences and relationships. With the utmost earnestness and personal humour, her works focus on our greatest and most urgent issues. What makes us human? Can absolutely everything be forgiven? Is my experience all that counts?
Ahtila’s process begins as writing, and she also bases her work on artistic models, such as texts by Arthur Rimbaud and Frantz Fanon in the installation Var är var? (Where is Where?, 2008), or renaissance painting in Marie bebådelse (The Annunciation, 2010). In the last-mentioned work, which forms the core of this exhibition, Ahtila enacts postcolonial and biopolitical issues without departing from the personal level.
She often alludes to given, familiar forms, including commercials or documentaries, undermining the viewer’s position as a detached spectator. Her works explore the potential of the film medium, weaving an intricate web of references – between film and theatre, painting and poetry, fiction and documentary.
Ahtila’s works are often produced as both installations and feature films, and are regularly shown at international film festivals. Eija-Liisa Ahtila was a member of the feature film jury at the latest Venice Film Festival.
Eija-Liisa Ahtila lives and works in Helsinki. Her works have previously been shown at the MoMA, New York, Jeu de Paume, Paris, Tate Modern, London, and Kunsthalle Zürich. She has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in 1999 and 2005.
Curator: Lena Essling