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The experimental films of Saara Ekström deal with the eroding layers of time and space

Published 29.10.2021 15.16

The Gallery of Culture House Laikku features an exhibition of two experimental films by Saara Ekström. The artist is known for her long career in using various media such as photography, film and installation. Free admission.

The wall of an abandoned prison cell with drawn and scratched markings, and parts of photographs glued to and torn from the wall.

Chronotopes where opposites and extremes come together, the eroding layers of time and space, as well as the ambivalent desire to both remember and forget are at the core of Saara Ekström’s art. The exhibition features two experimental short films shot on 8 mm film. Shadow Codex (2021) and Amplifier (2017) depict two very different locations and the ever-changing, momentary and elusive nature of their inherent levels of semiotic meaning.

Filmed at the abandoned facilities of Turku County Prison (1835–2007), Shadow Codex documents the layers of messages drawn, burned, glued and scratched on cell walls. The markings are gateways to the shadow world, the darkness within an individual’s psyche. They expose an underbelly which a society both generates and hides. The film is a recording of a forbidden zone in the middle of the city, of institutional architecture and a subcultures codex, resembling the sign language of a collapsed civilization. ‘Perilous Night’, a six-piece composition created in 1964 by John Cage (1912-1992), gives the film its rhythmic background. The composition is said to be Cage’s journey to the nocturnal side of the soul.

Amplifier is a reflection on the presence and significance of history in our everyday surroundings. The work focuses on Helsinki Olympic Stadium, regarded as one of the most beautiful sports arenas in the world. Completed in 1938 for Olympic games that never took place, this epitome of pure functionalistic architecture stands as a landmark for utopia and man's oblivion and neglect of history. On the verge of vast changes time acts abnormally. It fractures and leaks, allowing things belonging elsewhere, to the otherworldly, to permeate itself. Distant sounds, and an enigmatic visitor listening to them, move inside the structures of the desolate monument, where dance and magic, the past and present merge with one another.

Saara Ekström is an artist based in Turku. Her work has been shown in museums and festivals throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia. She has been granted the Aboa award in 1994, the Finnish Art Foundation award in 1995, the Art Prize of Southern Finland in 2017 and the Avek Media Art Award in 2018. Ekström has been the Artist for the Helsinki Festival in 2005, and she has been nominated for the Ars Fennica and the Carnegie Art Award in 2010. Her works are included among others in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Amos Rex, Helsinki City Art Museum, The Espoo Museum of Modern Art and the art museums of Turku and Tampere.

The exhibition is a production of the Public Cultural Services of the City of Tampere. The aim of the Public Cultural Services, on behalf of its services relating to exhibitions, is to spread knowledge of the phenomena in visual arts, and to offer for the Tampere region a diverse and high-level exhibition program.

The exhibition is open 30.10.-21.11. tue-fri 9.00-21.00, sat-sun 10.00-18.00

Further information

Karoliina Paappa

Karoliina Paappa Tel. 044 481 1775

Text Saara Ekström, Mika Vaaranmaa

Photos Saara Ekström