New exhibitions at Kunsthalle Turku June 21 – July 28

Posted on 17.6.2019

Joonas Ahlava / Growing Garden

Growing Garden consists of minimalistic, patterned wood sculptures and a Japanese-style rock garden. The elements combine Japanese, western and Scandinavian symbolism.

The surface designs of the pieces have been created through computer logic and the artist’s intuition. They are made up of simple, recurring patterns as well as interaction between different layers that, depending on the piece, range from a few to hundreds. This process of complexification depicts the development of the human mind. The pieces are based on the Thought Patterns series that explored learning processes, becoming set in one’s ways and the potential breakthroughs of the mind through abstract photography.

Growing Garden is a continuation of this theme, examining the growth of the individual as well as the individual’s relationship with society and the environment from a holistic perspective. The individual wood sculptures can be seen as symbols of the individual and their complexification and growth. The Japanese rock garden with its undulating surface, in turn, brings all the sculptures together. The piece aims to explore the relationship between the individual and society and to depict them as a whole.

In the other room, the T-shaped sculpture has a similar shape as the famous “Blackmun and Brennan” by Richard Serra which is housed in the collections of the Finnish National Gallery and dedicated to two Supreme Court Justices. This reference is my minimalistic and subtle way of addressing today’s political turmoil and egoistic behaviour to promote the interests of an individual or of a single nation and the inflation of a holistic point of view.

Both pieces examine people’s relationship with the surrounding world and the seeming development of our species. The exhibition was partly inspired by the book The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
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Sanni Saarinen / Longing for Roots

Longing for Roots stems from the yearning to find a place where I can belong. I started to work on the series in 2015 upon returning to Finland after a decade spent abroad.
Soon after my arrival, my daughter was born. My family still spends part of the year in Spain, the home country of my spouse.

Motherhood, remigration and living between two cultures made me ponder about the questions of home, belonging, detachment and, to a wider extent, identity. Ultimately, the questions deal with the meaning of life and existence; in order to know who I am, I must know why I am alive. I photographed my loved ones and places to which I felt instinctually drawn. Nature is important to me. Through nature, I connect not only with the place itself but also with the silence in myself and the universe. Nature puts things in perspective and reminds us of the fleetingness of life.

Later, I learned about the concept of topophilia as understood by geographer Yi-Fu Tuan (from Greek topos “place” and philia “love”): according to Tuan, our relationship with a place is not determined by a physical location but the emotions it evokes in us. Scents, sensations on the skin, sounds and flavours remind us of feelings and experiences we have had in similar environments, surrounded by similar sensory stimuli. When arriving at a place, the echoes of previous experiences ring through us. I understood I had been photographing my own topophilia. Searching for roots does not mean searching for a physical location but retracing the emotional landscapes of love, solidarity and safety.

Sanni Saarinen (1979) is a photographic artist and freelance journalist residing in Turku. She has a Master’s degree in Comparative Religions from the University of Turku and she studied photography at the EFTI School of Photography & Cinema (Centro Internacional de Fotografía y Cine). In the autumn of 2019, she plans to enter Aalto University for a Master’s programme in Photography.

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