Flis Holland


Flis Holland explores the compulsion to revisit locations that are no longer accessible to us, and how these sites that are embedded in our subconscious affect our daily interactions with the built environment. By using scale models in her constructed photographs, Holland facilitates both her own return to particular sites, and our accompaniment beside her. But for the visitor to the exhibition, being able to return to and move around in these places but not interact with the surroundings results in an uncanny experience that resembles a traumatic dream or haunting.

For this exhibition Holland has installed two series of photographs, which are displayed within chandelier-like rings that are hung from the gallery ceiling, each ring containing a number of individual viewing boxes. The first series of photographs features a replica of Sinne and an extension of the exhibition itself. Peering into the boxes you find yourself back outside the gallery, looking in through the windows with your eyes fixed on the very spot where you are standing. Except that in this version you have disappeared, the rings have moved to a position where they are impossible to use, and the whole experience of the gallery space disintegrates.

In the second series of photographs Holland revisits the entrance hall of an empty apartment. A William Morris carpet on the stairs, beige wallpaper peeling at the edges, frosted glass doors. This is a home that has been recurring in Holland’s work. A generic home to which we all ought to be able to relate in which we should feel at ease. But when Holland is conducting the flow of the images, something happens. She puts in black frames. Just when we start to get familiar with the scene, the panning starts over from the beginning; it’s not quite the same this time. All of a sudden the air feels heavy and a feeling of discomfort comes creeping in. You are trapped in the middle of a repetitive memory sequence. You decide to take cover behind a door, and look out furtively.

While at first sight the visuals seem innocent and playful, there is a strong sense of discipline and power that develops within the work. Not just in the spatial dislocations themselves or the events that they purport to document, but also in Holland’s highly controlled use of the camera. Through her lens she guides the audience to walk down paths that do not fork. You end up in a narrative loop that is being replayed over and over again like a distant memory fragment, an unpleasant feedback in which you witness your own impotence.

Flis Holland from Newcastle England has a MFA from The University of Leeds. Since 2011 she has been based in Helsinki to work on her DFA at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, for which she has been awarded a grant by the Kone Foundation.

Markus Åström

Past program