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. 


Krista Autio: "am I supposed to be a better person"



“Am I supposed to be a better person”, “Am I good enough for this life”, “Am I able to trust myself” – these questions, painted with familiar-looking font types break the beautiful large monochrome surfaces of the canvases and dominate the painterly spaces in Krista Autio’s new exhibition at the K41.

However, on a second look, one comes to realize that the sentences do not end with a question mark – nor do they with a full stop for that matter.  Rather, they stand there without punctuation, like entries in a catalogue of verbal expressions of everyday anxieties, fear and self-doubt.

Likewise, the large images of wigs, skirts, female underwear, dresses, jeans single letters, circles and words hang on the wall arranged neatly, like in a wardrobe.  You stand puzzled in front of this inventory of clothes, shapes, letters and words – all of them can concern you, all are the same size to fit all. Not to remain naked and defenseless, you need to put on some of those every day. Trying to find the outfit, the attributes that go best with the personality you take on each day “to meet the faces that you meet” – to borrow T. S. Eliot’s words. You need to select the right garments, but then you will not be able to escape the accessory dilemmas, questions, worries, fears and perplexities for all sorts of occasions and moods either.

All this comes on attractive surfaces, painted with direct colours, which adds even more to the tension – what you see is appealing and disquieting at the same time. Luckily, Autio’s characteristic sense of proportion and balance is present here too visually, emotionally and intellectually as well. While the straightforwardness of presentation sucks you in, just to find yourself entangled in a web of intellectual questions, emotional-psychological dilemmas and rebel cries about identity, womanhood, humanity, gender roles, ethnicity and other issues, Autio’s humor and subtle sarcasm always allows you to step back and take a deep breath of relief – before you step up to the wardrobe to get dressed again…

Text by Zsolt Kozma

Krista Autio has been working as an artist from mid-1990s. Her works have been shown in Finland, France, Spain, USA and Belgium in a number of galleries and public spaces. In Belgium, Autio’s paintings have been presented at venues including Tache-Levy Gallery, Jozsa Gallery, BOZAR and De Garage.

Autio’s painting exhibition "am I supposed to be a better person" opens the K41’s nordiKeye -program.