Drama and dream from Finland will be strongly present in two exhibitions by Buffalo-based Albright-Knox Art Gallery in October.
Ecologies of Drama
Eija-Liisa Ahtila (born 1959) is known as an influential pioneer of media art. Throughout her entire career she has been studying how have drama and narrative historically been constructed, and how we might envision their new forms? The first United States career survey of her art, Ecologies of Drama, takes place at Albright-Knox Gallery October 10, 2015 – January 3, 2016. The exhibition is organised by Senior Curator Cathleen Chaffee.
Ahtila’s provocative, intensely mesmerizing moving-image installations picture what it means to be human, to experience transcendence as well as frailty, to be awed by nature, and to reason with loss. This review of the past twenty years of Ahtila’s career includes pieces from every era of her artistic work. It features also the North American premiere of her newest work, the four-channel installation Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1, 2014.
The root of the word “ecology” lies in the Greek “oikos,” meaning “house” or “household”. This directly suggests the interdependence between our personal, domestic concerns and larger ecosystems. For example, many of Ahtila’s most recent works, including Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1, directly investigate how humans could move away from an anthropocentric perspective and suggest that our narratives about the world around us may be powerful tools in that effort.
This special exhibition will be accompanied by the first reader to be published on Eija-Liisa Ahtila. This publication will also be the first to assemble the English-language scripts from all of her multichannel installations, as well as key works of scholarship and numerous interviews with the artist. The book will be an invaluable resource for future inquiry into the writing and context of Ahtila’s groundbreaking work.
We Share a Dream
Kaarina Kaikkonen is internationally renowned for her use of clothing to alter our perception of shared lives and shared spaces. Her newest project, We Share a Dream, will be on view at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport starting on October 2, 2015.
The installation to be seen is a continuum, or to be more specific, a part of her project of acting cooperative in nature, as she seeks donated clothes from public sources and works with teams of volunteers to create final works of public art.
For this installation, Kaikkonen, assisted by a team of local volunteers, will mount a large work above the main ticketing area in the publicly accessible lobby of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. The curved wings of the walls, flanking the security entrance in the middle, offer a dramatic and substantial site for the presentation of Kaikkonen’s work, ideal for the dense and colorful installations for which she is celebrated.
In We Share the Dream there will be used roughly two thousand shirts, which are donated by the members of local community. The shirts will be attached at the sleeves, or “hands,” suggesting our human connection even when we are apart or absent. Daily commutes, the migratory moments of travel, and our formative explorations are all represented in these ties.
Through repeated encounters, travellers establish different yet specific connections with the clothing in the installation. Each individual can relate to the intimate touch and feel of their own clothes, the comfort they provide, and the identity they allow us to embrace. The complexity of the personal history and emotion embedded in each piece of clothing is amplified by the collective nature of the artwork.
The installation We Share the Dream is presented by the Public Art Initiative, an innovative partnership between the Albright-Knox, Erie County, and the City of Buffalo. It has been made possible, in part, through the support of Corvette Cleaners.
Photo: Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Detail of Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1—Tutkimuksia Draaman Ekologiasta 1, 2014. Four-channel projected HD installation with five-channel sound. © Kristallisilmä Oy, Crystal Eye Ltd., Helsinki. Photograph by Marja-Leena Hukkanen.