I am very lucky to have my sister (Emma) living in Finland and on my most recent trip I was excited to find out that my favourite artist Ernesto Neto was exhibiting in Kiasma, Helsinki and I had to go! It was also a brilliant chance for my sister to get a better understanding of what ‘immersive’ and ‘installation’ art is and for her little boy, Harri to experience his first exhibition.
We got the train to Helsinki which had a brilliant children’s section on it with a slide, books and toys to play with. After a wander round Helsinki we headed to the market which is on the harbour and had some delicious, very traditional fish. Then we headed to Kiasma, Sinikka (Emma’s friend) thought she knew the way, but perhaps was slightly unsure! Not to worry we made it there and Harri had a massive bowl of soup, possibly as big as him.
I was excited to learn that artist Choi Jeong Hwa was also exhibiting. I’d not heard of him before but I absolutely loved his work. Choi Jeong Hwa is an Korean artist designer who uses both new and used mass produced objects in his art. He aims to make art on a human level with the belief that everything can be art and everyone can be an artist “Your heart is my art”. I believe everyone can be artist but they need some creativity to make their art come to life, it is Choi Jeong Hwa creativity and visionary approach which makes his work astounding.
Happy Happy is a true description of this installation. Every day kitchen plastics in vibrant colours are stacked on signal threads which hang within the gallery creating a beautiful plastic jungle which you can walk through. It filled my heart with joy, I love art that you can touch and experience and here you were invited to walk through the installation and touch the work. The vibrant colours were really stimulating, I think it really did make you release happy endorphins. Harri looked and reached to touch the installation and seemed to really enjoy the experience.
With the kitchen objects he’d used a lot of the same items, salad spinners, glasses, bowls, colanders and repeated these in different colours. The way he stacked them created the illusion of different, more beautiful objects. It draws the unexpected beauty out of the household items. They are all made of ubiquitous material that does not decompose but can be reused. I’m sure you’ll agree from the pictures they are absolutely stunning. The items where sourced from street markets, shops and flea markets in many different countries. The work was put together by the Friends of Kiasma and students in Helsinki.
Love Me, Presence of Eternity, Cosmos (We Are All Flowers) and Flowers Chandelier by Choi Jong Hwa where also being exhibited.
Sarah and I love, love, love Ernesto Neto, it is the way he creates spaces to interact with that stimulate your senses in so many ways. He creates spaces that give you time to breathe and relax within in which allow to really encounter your own senses and the art created.
A lot of Ernesto Neto’s work takes influence from the Huni Kuin people from the Amazon. There are about 8,000 members of the Huni Kuin spread among villages in Acre, northwest Brazil. Huni Kuin translates as ‘true people’, the core of the Huni Kuin culture is their connection with the natural environment and their unity with other living things. Shamans are able to communicate with natural phenomena, animals and plants by changing shape. In the 19th century the Huni Kuin began to have contact with the majority population of Brazil and Peru and led to enslavement of the Huni Kuni and widespread destruction of their culture. Today the Huni Kuin are fighting for their land rights and for the preservation of their traditions, the collaboration with Ernesto Neto is a way for their voice to be heard. Ernesto Neto has been studying their life in depth and has gained trust of the community and is now making their culture know through his art.
Sailing Between Us 2012
[carpet field] where do we go?
Sailing Between Us and [carpet field] takes up the entire gallery, you are invited to take off your shoes to encounter the piece. Sailing Between Us hangs from the ceiling and is a crocheted structured which creates 6 floating beds. The beds are created from crochet in the same way but filled with plastic balls for comfort. Each bed is placed so you are facing your neighbour. Crochet is often associated with small handy craft but here it is on a massive scale, to me this isn’t surprising at all, that’s because I knit giant art but the gallery has commented on it in the gallery blurb which reminds me what I do is quite unusual! The [carpet field] is a lovely texture for your feet to walk on, again it is crochet, I feel this really connects you to the work as you are physically grounded to it. The beds are a lovely space to sit, relax and watch the world go by, the lighting in the gallery is just right and really adds to the relaxing experience. Lighting is something that Sarah and I should maybe think about, how it changes the way you experience something and the benefits it can have.
The below pieces make up one installation which fills the top gallery of Kiasma:
Every Tree Is a Civilising Entity
Boa head, hands to be together
This Eye Sees Two Sides
Ground Body Earth Spirit
Texan Seat and Table
The installation has been especially made for the gallery in Kiasma. It takes influence from the Huni Kuin, the centre piece echoes a communal space form their villages that are used for celebrations and rituals. The boa is a recurring theme through the exhibition, it represents the guiding and empowering spirit for the Huni Kuin. The installation uses Neto’s characteristics of art, textiles and hanging shapes, again the installation is crocheted. It has the same beautiful texture underfoot and you are invited to remove your shoes. It is a fabulous space to sit within, the use of crochet makes the structure feel very light and very calming. I laid on the floor looking up through the patterns created by the installation. There are so many different elements to it, so many areas to enjoy, the shapes colours and patterns compliment each other perfectly, it is an absolutely beautiful place to be, breathe and relax.