Dropped in to have a good look at Pasi Autio‘s latest exhibition Ääneni, Otteeni, Muistoni, Aikani (My Voice, My Grip, My Memories, My Time) at Muu last week, and I was glad I did. This evocative study of the gaps between internal and external worlds has a lot going for it.
The exhibition consisted of a half dozen videos that were unequally distributed across three spaces, which set up diverse relationships. The presentation allowed some works to be perceived in concert, whereas specific parts of the show could only be experienced on a private level. The fact that all of the videos were looped to play continuously created a kind of irregular visual rhythm through which the viewer was subjected to an ongoing and continuously changing range of juxtapositions proposing relationships of sound, image and potential meanings.
Within this arena Autio gives light plenty of attention and depicts it passing through or bouncing off different kinds of materials. Muted by falling snow and transmitted through chlorophyll drenched leaves, its intensity changes according to the weather, as well as through the recurring cycle of seasons. It passes through various kinds of lenses and is refracted by a faceted glass jewel.
Wet surfaces, in particular, reveal its fascinating nature. Its flickering presence highlights the constantly changing textures of rippling water as they dance across its surface, while the small specks gleaming off a female’s liquidy eyes seem to pierce the dark space from which they are emerging. In one video rapid moving water shoots up into the air from some unidentifiable location. Grabbing hold of visible radiation, these fleeting surges, isolated in blackness, recall the chiaroscuro technique employed by artists such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio.
The exhibition also immerses the viewer in a rich array of contradictions and inversions. In one video the only thing that is shown of one domestic space is the view from its window and in another work the projected view of a landscape is painted across the walls and floor of an otherwise empty room. In Duetto (Duet) 2016 two men come together to engage in a hauntingly brief and most enigmatic conversation. One is right side up and stationary, while the second, visible in a projection, approaches from the distance. One can hear the sound of his steps crunching across gravel as he walks forward. He also happens to be upside down. Then, half way through the video, their positions switch and it is the man originally in the foreground who appears in the projection, who is upside down, and who turns and walks away. Their dialogue suggests they might be different people and/or one and the same. And, although they are speaking, neither can comprehend the other. Some kind of gap exists between and it evades being bridged.
Aarnen Ikkuna (Aarne’s Window) 2016 offers a similar sense of disconnected connectedness. The views alternate between two scenes: close-ups of the subject’s face as he bemoans the loss of his wife and the parking lot seen from the window of his apartment. Here time moves most inconsistently. While Aarne’s position never changes, the view through the window evidences an entire year of weather changes. Moreover, dichotomies such as life/death, inside/outside, motion/stasis, real/imagined, and left side/right side, permanence/impermanence are detectable in the imagery or subject’s monologue.
“Snowflakes, seconds. Does time stand still?” says Aarne near the end of the work. Watching and attempting to comprehend the potential implications of the videos immersed me in a state of contemplation wherein time didn’t stop, but I certainly lost track of it. This melancholic and dreamy exposition proposes a richly varied view of space and time. Images drift from one into another, and fade in and out. They flicker in near darkness and are washed out by too much light. Time proceeds at multiple rates and is similarly complex. Part of the reason it evades understanding is that our experience of it is wholly inconsistent. As such, I think the exhibition helps attune us to the world around us and the ways we think about it. At once perplexing and affirming, it is also intensely illuminating.
Featured image at top: view of Aarnen Ikkuna (Aarne’s Window) 2016, 7.29 min.
Pasi Autio’s Ääneni, Otteeni, Muistoni, Aikani (My Voice, My Grip, My Memories, My Time) was shown at Muu Gallery, Helsinki, 15 January – 21 February 2016.