Elina Vainio’s Remote Sensing exhibition forms an integrated whole consisting of sand installations, sound and video. The exhibition is a kind of mental landscape that stands wide-open, silent and still. The only thing that moves during the day is the shadows.
The sand plays a key role in Remote Sensing and is the material and foundation for everything. In the sand we can read the passage of time and see the effects of the friction and erosion that were here long before humankind entered the picture. The heavenly bodies have revolved, weather and wind have gone through their cycles, and now we are walking for a brief moment on the sand, which is constantly being ground ever finer. With Remote Sensing Vainio touches a nerve that places the human being in perspective. How alienated are we from our own habitat and our own history, and how much control do we actually have?
Elina Vainio is an artist who works in a number of different media. She operates on the work’s own terms, learning the languages and techniques that her ideas demand. She switches adeptly between text, image, film and sculpture. Her works are well-articulated, almost pedantic, but there is still a playfulness and humour here that take hold of the viewer. Vainio constructs her themes around the self-centred human worldview. Her work is an attempt to locate the energies that shape the culture that we inhabit today. By making visible the links between our constructed world and the multiplicity of nature she casts modern humans and their social structures in an absurd light. She makes us see that we should stand humbly before the forces and logic that lie beyond our senses.
In the gallery Vainio has placed sand installations; platforms on which stand sculptures made of sand and sodium silicate that have been hardened with carbon dioxide. These fragile sculptures can quickly crumble and return to sand once again. Their rod-like shapes bear a visual resemblance to the soil samples whose layers can be read to reveal local, but also global, history as seen over a long perspective. Nor can we avoid their prompting further associations with the cooling rods at nuclear power plants, or with axles from fossil machines, or even with something reminiscent of architectural ruins. Taken together, the sand installations are filled with human absence, appearing like tragi-comic post-humanist swansongs of a civilization that can longer even see beyond its own immediate interests.
Mod. Cons. – an abbreviation for Modern Conveniences – is a video portraying a futuristic scenario that plays out in an apartment in a revolving skyscraper set amid a barren desert landscape. The subjective camera angle places the viewer in the role of a white man locked in his own apartment. He has created his own castle and is now alone right at the top of the tower, losing his mind. Like a reptile he waits, still and lifeless, for the right moment to venture out of his hiding place. His monologue is laced with aural and visual hallucinations. The film’s soundtrack is played through a multi-channel sound system that spans the entire gallery space.
Elina Vainio (b. 1981) lives and works in Helsinki. She graduated from the Time and Space Department at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2013 and also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. Her exhibitions include: Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City; Vartiovuori observatory, Turku; Kunsthalle Helsinki; Retretti Art Centre, Punkaharju. In 2015, she made a public work in Helsinki curated by Checkpoint Helsinki and Art Advisor.
The exhibition is supported by:
Alfred Kordeliinin säätiö, AVEK, Rudus and Arts promotion center
Thank you: Tuukka Haapakorpi, Samuli Niittymäki, Mika Rantala, Konstantin Lobkovski, Jaakko Pietiläinen, Jonatan Sundström, Henna Vainio, Tiina Vainio, Esko Vainio, Charlotta Boucht, Petteri Laalo, Antti Lahtonen, Matti Kunttu, Giovanna Esposito Yussif, Maippi Ketola, Milla-Kariina Oja, Jaana Haaksiluoto and Markus Keränen