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Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Candidates 2021

Visual artist and filmmaker Eija-Liisa Ahtila experiments with narration and form in her works that address the gendered, colonial and anthropocentric structures haunting the everyday and its representations.

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Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Visual artist and filmmaker Eija-Liisa Ahtila experiments with narration and form in her works that address the gendered, colonial and anthropocentric structures haunting the everyday and its representations.

In Ahtila’s earlier moving image installations the protagonists of the human dramas are in a constant state of becoming, entangled in a web of intimate relations woven across generations, historical and geographical distances, and beyond human kinship. The works subtly unsettle normative understandings of rational agency and individualised sense of self in the face of death, the suffering of others, or mental breakdown.

During the last decade she has explored what an ecology of drama could be, that includes also more-than-human actors and their perspectives: how to allow another animal than human, or a tree or the wind, to take the centre stage in cinematic narratives? As protagonists, how might they challenge the conventions of both moving image and exhibition spaces? Works such as Horizontal and Studies on the Ecology of Drama experiment with expanding representation and narration towards these coexisting diverse temporal rhythms and spatial scales of lived experience.

In Ahtila’s multi-channel installations the storylines are pieced together by the spectators as they navigate between multiple parallel views on the scenes of events. The protagonists often address their words to the viewers, drawing them further into the unfolding narrative and cinematic space. Spoken language has increasingly given way to other sounds, while the works have become less tightly scripted. For example, Potentiality for Love offers viewers a silent situation, a space to dwell on the uncertain boundary between oneself and others, while attending to the possibility of empathy that recognises irreducible differences.

 

Ahtila’s current work is concerned with how to depict and make sense of reality at the time of urgent ecological crises. How can art and moving image adapt to the changing world? What kind of shifts in perspectives and perceptions could align with the ongoing transformations in worldviews and in our interdependent relations?

Taru Elfving

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