Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, Forest floor, 2017. 32 x 32 x 4 cm. The growth beneath one’s feet. Photo: Corvi-Mora.
Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen: Osan otto
Donna Kukama: Not Yet (And Nobody Knows Why Not)
November 16–December 22, 2017
Opening: Wednesday, November 15, 5–8pm
Työpajankatu 2 B, bldg 7, fl. 3
Hours: Wednesday–Friday 12-–6pm,
We are happy to announce the opening of the inaugural exhibition at Kohta, with works by Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen and Donna Kukama.
“Interesting” and “important” are value judgments, impossible to justify within any quest for objectivity but crucial to democratic society. If we couldn’t make each other feel interesting and important, what would become of us?
Kohta is a Finnish word that means both place and soon, so it captures two interesting and important things about art: that it needs spatial reality to fully exist and that it looks ahead.
Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen (1982, lives in Sweden) is probably the best-known Finnish artist who has never exhibited in Finland. He has built a following internationally (with exhibitions in London, Antwerp and elsewhere) for his uncompromising meditations on civilisation and sustainability, form and endurance, thought and objecthood.
His work appears to be about nature, because he uses natural materials (wood, wool, animal skins sometimes) and submits them to time-consuming routines of whittling down or building up, aided at most by simple tools (a needle, perhaps, or a knife or axe or saw). Yet it is precisely this withdrawal of his work from the impositions of hyper-connected contemporaneity that allows Laakkonen to address the limits of the natural and of human agency over it. These are ultra-contemporary concerns.
Osan otto, the work launching Laakkonen’s visibility in Finland, consists of a freshly felled pine tree, dragged just next to Kohta’s entrance, and a dish carved from a segment of its trunk, cut as closely as possible to the ground. The end of the felled trunk, and the surface of the stub that remains in an undisclosed location, are also carved, so that all three elements could be reunited. The concave surface of the stump could accommodate the dish, which in turn could welcome the convex end of the trunk back into the whole that ceased to exist when the tree was felled.
Laakkonen has divided his World Tree or Tree of Life into three parts, standing for the tenses of the verbal system and the levels of the shamanic order: stub/past/netherworld; dish/present/earth; trunk/future/heaven. But Osan otto is also made from its title, the word that means the taking of a part or partaking but is also the commonly used expression for condolence.
Kohta’s second exhibition space is inaugurated with Not Yet (And Nobody Knows Why Not) (2008), a performance in public space, captured on video, by South African artist Donna Kukama (1981, lives in Johannesburg).
She stands in an open field in Nairobi as participants are leaving a meeting celebrating Kenya’s Mau Mau uprising against its British colonisers in the 1950s. She puts on lipstick, in a gesture that might be lacking in respect for the elderly passers-by. But as she smears it outside the accepted area, her whole face becomes blood red: an act of painting that illustrates—sheds light on—the freedom fighters’ still mostly unfulfilled political expectations.
Kukama is known for her “alternative monuments” that illuminate contested and often painful events from recent history or contemporary life, as “invisible” and sometimes undocumented performances. Kohta is inviting her to produce new work in Helsinki.
Osan otto is shown courtesy of the artist and Corvi-Mora, London. Not Yet (And Nobody Knows Why Not) is shown courtesy of the artist and M HKA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp.
Kohta aims to present uncompromising contemporary art. The advisory board responsible for the programming consists of artists Magdalena Åberg, Martti Aiha, Thomas Nyqvist, Nina Roos and Hans Rosenström, curator Anders Kreuger and filmmaker and lecturer Richard Misek.
Kohta is launched with support from EMO Foundation, funding the arts in Finland. Kohta seeks collaboration with and support from a variety of public and private entities in Finland and abroad.
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