Directors Lounge Screenings in der Z-Bar
within landscape and time
video works by
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Elena Näsänen's reference for her work on video is the big screen, the glory of grand cinema, and with that, the picture of nature in cinemascope.
She is one of the few artists who work exclusively on video, and who are rarely shown on a cinema screen. Instead, the audience finds her work in art shows, galleries and international exhibitions.
Elena tells me, she started as a painter in Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, but then joined the Department of Time and Space (not necessarily a place for video production), because in painting, she was "missing movement, sound and time." One may want to add "and story", as her films contain structures of narrative cinema: most of them are written by the artist, are played by actors, and they are building up a suspense of uncanny possible occurrences, which the audience anticipates to happen. In "Before Rain" Elena uses fragments of Hollywood crime movies that stay unresolved, in "Night" a female character follows an urge to leave the house at night searching through the adjunct woods, and in "Wasteland" a group of women are on their way to an unknown task and destiny.
There are two other elements, however, that seem to mark Elena's work just as strongly: time and nature. Unlike Hollywood's realism and illusion of continuity, time in Elena Näsänen's work does not represent the sensed time of daily life; instead time seems to exist as autonomous duration. Thus, time is strictly connected with images. And, time ceases to exist when the images disappear. Likewise, if those, her images, stay with us in memory, their time seems to persist, thus making time ambivalent, a "film time" that stays still or becomes endless, depending on the viewer.
Nature, on the other hand seems to dominate the image, and Elena's characters. Nature is more than a second character in her films. Nature seems to be the uncanny ground for her characters, who seem not to belong there. More than the possible tails of crime and violence, it is nature herself who is uncanny. Neither is it the nature of contemporary environmentalists, nor is it "landscape"- an image construction of 19th century painters of pasture. Maybe, Elena Näsänen here revives a contemporary view onto the sublime other: Nature as it has become the unfamiliar other for us city dwellers. Only virtually controlled by infrastructure as in "Drive" and exploited by tourism as in "The Mountain", or endangered by industrial exploitation ("Wasteland"), nature still holds a mystery. This mystery may be contained by the Australian outback, the Chinese yellow mountains, or the Finnish landscape.
• Drive 9:30
• Photograph of the Sea 4:16
• The Mountain 8:00
• Night 7:00
• Range 11:50
• Before Rain 5:50
• Wasteland 15:00