Riikka Kuoppala: And that's all I remember


Opening 01/06/2017   18-21


Riikka Kuoppala: And That's All I Remember

And That's All I Remember in K41 is the Finnish artist Riikka Kuoppala's first exhibition in Belgium. It consists of two video works, which both look at a specific time in the recent history of Finland seen from today's perspective, and archive photographs taken by her grandfather in Namibia in the 1950's.

"I believe that what we try to hide does not leave us, but will instead keep growing in our attic, under the bed and behind the closet, until it breaks out and takes up all the space. I dust out and bring to daylight two blurry realities from Finnish history, ones that the nation might not want to remember as it celebrates its 100th birthday this year.

The installation And That's All I remember in the ground floor looks for traces of Finnish missionaries in Owamboland, North Namibia. I traveled to Namibia in 2014 in the footprints of my grandparents who spent there four years doing missionary work. In the video, five Namibians tell about the sudden death of my grandmother Eila Plathan-Saarinen, a young missionary doctor, in the Nakayale village in 1954. Many questions remain unanswered as every person has their own way to remember things. What were Finns doing in Namibia anyway, baptizing Namibians with Finnish names?

In the fictional short film Singing for Lenin in the basement of K41 I look at the 1970's Finnish communist movement Taistolaisuus from the point of view of my own generation, those born in the early 1980's. The main characters of the film spend time in an old house going through archives and trying to find hidden entry points to the past. One of the most important questions of my film is whether we can ever understand the period that ended not long before we were born, but that still was so near that it inevitably has had an impact in our identities. The script is partly based on interviews made with former members of the Taistolaisuus movement. They draw a polyphonic image of the breaking of a utopia, wondering if the common goal ever existed in the first place."

Riikka Kuoppala received her M.F.A from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2010 and studied in the post-graduate programme of Le Fresnoy - Studio national des arts contemporains in 2013-2015. Kuoppalaʼs work has been exhibited at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Le MAGASIN, Grenoble; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, LMCCʼs Arts Center, New York City; the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen and her films have been screened in museums, galleries and film festivals such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Loop Video Art Festival, Barcelona; Oberhausen Short Film Festival and Tampere Film Festival. This year Kuoppala participates in the Gothenburg Biennial. She lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. And That's All I Remember is Riikka Kuoppala's first solo exhibition in Belgium. The exhibition continues K41's nordiKeye exhibition series, curated by Krista Autio.