The conflicting situations that are the starting point of my work are communicated using different media, mainly photographs, videos and objects. I use these elements so as to create discrete levels or planes behind or in front of the pictorial surface. The aim is to infuse the image with depth, liveliness and three-dimensionality so as to make it seem more real both to me and its eventual viewers; another aim is that it would enable me to share the original conflicting situations with the viewer. My term for the final works installed in a gallery or some other venue is ‘situation sculpture’.

Kato-Landon-Oja: Excavations, Gallery Saariaho Järvenpää Helsinki 2017


Excavations-exhibition, at the Gallery Saariaho Järvenpää, Opening of the exhibition 24.5.2017, Wellcome!

The exhibition features work by three artists who reflect on the urban space around the Viiskulma intersection in Helsinki. This landmark site, where five streets cross, demarcates the border between two historically opposing neighbourhoods; inner city development has resulted in a shifting of the economic specificities of the area where a once working class neighbourhood buttressed an affluent one.

The unique layout of the five-corner intersection is referred to in the works in the exhibition. Shoji Kato’s sculpture invoking a miniature landscape suggests a prehistoric geography of hills and passes that led to the unorthodox tracing of the city streets. Marjatta Oja’s video installation or situation sculpture, as she calls her works, uses five channels to present multiple viewpoints on the intersection as told first-hand in interviews with its residents. The ongoing history of the neighbourhood is a background for these accounts suggesting that the urban transformations are outlived and superseded by the everyday lives of those inhabiting it. Kato’s geographical tracings, the rubbings of cobblestones and and a photograph of an abandoned quarry, suggest the passage of time and the passing of inhabitants moulding the landscape and shifting the urban setting. Urban transformation is likewise evoked by Paul Landon’s cardboard and wood reliefs of cinema interiors; the disappearance of local cinemas, characterised by the marquee sign of the Merano, a cinema closed over a decade ago, that remains an architectural feature of the intersection, is a symptom of the changing social functions that built space undergoes in the city.

 

While drawing no conclusions as to the possible futures for the Viiskulma neighbourhoods, Kato, Landon and Oja look to its complex presences and pasts to reflect on its potential.