Burning Down the House
Makers' Gallery / Vaasa
The existence of climate change has been known since the end of the 19th century, but it is still taken as only a threat for the future. The summer heatwaves are concrete proof that this is not the case. Climate change is here. In recent years, summer temperatures around the world have been breaking records, with higher temperatures year after year.
The exhibition explores human relationship with the current state of the world, and the patterns of thinking that have led to this situation. The exhibition presents two sides of heatwaves - where in parts of the world HEATWAVE-headlines mean a nice holiday and lazy days, in others they mean evacuation. The works depict forest fires reminiscent of hell, as well as languid, joyful images of hot summer days and nights. In Finland, we warm ourselves around a burning house and watch as it slowly disappears up in smoke.
This exhibition’s title Burning Down the House is taken from a song by Talking Heads. The title draws attention to the scale of climate change. Although it does not yet affect us in Finland as directly as elsewhere, it is a problem shared by all people. Our home is burning to the ground. I present climate change through the most tangible disaster: fire. Controlling fires has long been one of the things that sets humans apart from other animals, but the record-breaking forest fires of recent years have put all living creatures under equal pressure.
Talking Heads vocalist David Byrne describes his lyrics as follows: “The title of the song was a metaphor for the destruction of some safe thing that still captivates. I imagined words to be an expression of freedom, a way to break free from whatever keeps you in place. ” Although my own perspective on the title “Burning Down the House” is different, Byrne’s philosophy can also be applied to a climate catastrophe. In the end, the crucial issues are the huge lifestyle changes and the abandonment of the benefits achieved.
The works in the exhibition consist of oil paintings and a series of photographs.
My paintings are so-called Slow Print paintings that I have been working on for the last two years. Slow Prints are almost abstract paintings made up of raster patterns. Raster patterns are usually used in mass-produced images such as newspapers, t-shirts and comics. I paint the images in oil colours, point by point, from top to bottom - like a photocopier. It takes about eight hours to "print" one Slow Print. The paintings follow in the footsteps of traditional painting and printing techniques but are brought into the modern age. The oil paintings are effectively designed on the computer before they are even painted, and the slow production of a raster pattern is a contradiction in terms.
Photographs in the exhibition offer a contrast to the chaotic paintings with the 'gentle' reality of the sweltering days. The photographs, taken with my phone, depict young people spending their summer days and nights. They were not photographed for an art exhibition - the idea to show them in this context came later. The photos were taken during the summers of 2020 and 2021. While I myself have spent countless summer nights with my friends partying, playing basketball and swimming outside, apocalyptic images of forest fires have been circulating in the media. Later, as I painted works inspired by media images, the photographs of a relaxed summer holiday have taken on new value and meaning. The everydayness of the iPhone images makes them identifiable. Although the paintings and photographs look very different they are united by this exhibition’s theme: heat and warmth.