Saara Ekström:

Body All Eyes


Sinne has the pleasure of presenting a new work by Saara EkströmBody All Eyes is a sibling work to Amplifier, which was shown at Hippolyte in 2017. While Amplifier focused on human beings who live in a state of friction with the history they are constantly writing, Body All Eyes looks at the visionary, knowledge-hungry person who, with the aid of science and technology, enters into domains that did not previously belong to her. The starry firmament was long out of reach and was seen as being the abode solely for the birds and the gods.

Throughout the ages we have dreamt of flying and of mastering the future. In several cultures mediators with exceptional capacities and knowledge have stood in deep dialogue with the Nature and parallel worlds, returning from journeys in time and space with information of future and past events. The bird, as a creature that moves effortlessly through various elements and in mythologies mediates over boundaries, has been a co-passenger and guide on these travels. Even in present times birds function as vital indicators for changes occurring in our environment. Technological development has brought with it the airplane, satellites and drones that give us an all-seeing eye watching over the world. Previous definitions dissolve and what signified a supernatural communication and exchange between spiritual beings is now replaced with a commonplace flow of information.

Body All Eyes takes up this meeting between the mythic transcendental and the concrete earthly. Body All Eyes has been filmed on 8mm black-and-white cine film and is shown on a split screen. That is, the whole film is made up of two images side by side. These pairs of images create a third image, giving the work a collage-like character. This method also affects how we read the material. In contrast to traditional film clips in which a narrative is presented as images in chronological order, the image pair is more unpredictable and dreamlike, and offers a platform for a game in which the associations are allowed to move freely, criss-crossing like an avant-garde puzzle.

The image material consists of birds, native North-American bird masks, details of airplanes, control towers, clouds, landscapes and the sky. The birds play a central role in the work, and it undulates in a weightless state between heaven and earth. In this work, as in Amplifier, Ekström has collaborated with a dancer. The acrobat, Oona Kivelä, in the guise of an owl, acts as a guide who leads the viewer forwards through the torrent of images into a timeless, mysterious world. The pictures, edited in collaboration with Eero Tammi, are accompanied by a soundtrack made by Heikki Kossi and Pietu Korhonen. Besides Body All Eyes also being shown is a short animation – a brief stop motion loop a few seconds long consisting of two-page spreads from an airplane book. Silhouettes of airplanes flicker by like inkblots in a Rorschach test.

Saara Ekström, b. 1965, lives and works in Turku. She graduated from Turku Drawing School in 1986 and studied at Northern Arizona University, USA, in 1995-97. Ekström has consistently and systematically worked with celluloid – analogue film – in both her photographs and films. As a material celluloid goes hand in hand with the fragility that Ekström captures in her art. The transience of life has served as a central hub in her artistic work and her art is powerfully linked to the physical, corporeal and material. The relationship between human and nature is always present. Ekström’s works have been shown in Finland and abroad, and her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Kiasma, Bildmuseet, Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, and the Amos Anderson Art Museum, to name a few. She is represented, among others, in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Wihuri Foundation, Pro Artibus Foundation, Wäinö Aaltonen Museum, Tampere Art Museum, Pori Art Museum, HAM – Helsinki Art Museum and The Nordic Watercolour Museum.

Body All Eyes is supported by the Pro Artibus Foundation, Svenska Kulturfonden and AVEK.

Past program