NO/GOOD PLACE: Utopian Art from Finland
Curated by Professor Paul Wilson (Department of Art History)
March 23—April 22, 2016
Opening Reception: March 24, 5–7 p.m.
Thomas More created the word utopia in 1516 by combining the Greek words for not and place. However, when the resulting word is pronounced in English, the meaning in Greek changes to good place. This wordplay initiates the complexity and contradiction that characterizes utopia as an idea. It is at once a perfect place and an impossible one, a place we both desire and fear. While utopian or dystopian stories or images typically imagine societies isolated in space (the island or enclave) or time (the future), these fictions invite us to make comparisons to our own contemporary world. The flaws and nascent possibilities that we are blind to in our own time and place become visible when projected onto another one. Similarly, the utopian gestures or critiques found in these artworks from Finland offer us opportunities to reflect on our own utopian aspirations here in Ithaca, our “10 square miles surrounded by reality.” The photographs, films, performances, and installations in the exhibition explore the porous boundaries between utopia and dystopia.
Otto Karvonen and Pilvi Takala subtly intervene in everyday situations, testing the limits of what is possible to do or imagine within a particular social context or physical space. The artist duos Nutty Tarts and Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen both address utopian themes in their projects, but they also seek to match that content with collaborative, socially engaged artistic forms. The films of IC-98 offer spare allegories of development, collapse, and regeneration that challenge the anthropocentrism assumed in most utopias. Nina Katchadourian’s found maps revel in the imaginative pleasures of cartography but also hint at the absurdity of conflating political divisions with natural ones.
This exhibition features work by IC-98 (Visa Suonpää and Patrik Söderlund), Otto Karvonen, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Nina Katchadourian, Pilvi Takala, and Tärähtäneet ämmät/Nutty Tarts (Katriina Haikala and Vilma Metteri).
Support for this exhibition provided by Frame Visual Art Finland.