Seija Ulkuniemi | Senior Lecturer in Art Education
An inborn habit of curiosity towards various phenomena in life has bred in me the need to examine and process my thoughts visually and share my findings with others. My art works also often involve an art education perspective and texts which open up the theme of the work. My doctoral dissertation, "Exposed Lives", for example, includes four site specific works which contemplate the genre of family photography, which I present on a CD-ROM attachment. Pieces to have a look at in this connection are "The Enchanted Carpet of Holy Daily Life", "REPRODUCTION – Her Story Represented" and "Mother's Winter Garden".
My works are stances on things. In my exhibition "Rubbish!" I try to draw people's attention to their own environmental ethics. At the change of the millennium my "Y2K – A Millennium Manifest" installation challenged viewers to consider the definitions of knowledge and wisdom and the vulnerability of our information society.
The installation called "The Growing House" came about when I was on maternity leave and thinking about growth as well as the countless choices relating to human encounters. We are forever having to consider what actions are beneficial to which situations, what will support growth. But how well can we in the end predict the consequences of our actions?
The piece I called "A Place for Rest" is a gesture that questions a lifestyle that is filled with hurry. My aim was to get passers by to stop, to sit and let the hurry pass. Similarly, the piece "How Do I Feel the Darkness?," a soft and dark space, was made for tired, busy participants of the Annual Conference on Women's Studies. The visitor could rest there alone as if in a womb, safe, and give him or herself space to just listen without having to react to the stimulation that comes from the sense of sight.
In the piece "FLOW! For the Castaways", which is a tribute to the unifying power of the Kemijoki river, I tried to offer experiences stimulating different senses. Viewers can get into the boat, wrap themselves in a woollen shawl and listen to soothing sounds of water through headphones while looking at photographs and notes containing my thoughts on the river.
The postcard series "Greetings to Friends and Freud" arranged in a bar plays a kind of game of "What would Freud say about this?" Play generally characterises my attitude to my visual work regardless of the seriousness of the topic.
As my figuration of the world become increasingly surrealistic, I eventually put on the exhibition "The Hiding Space for the Consciousness". For these pieces I used photographs, some of them with double lighting, that I had taken in Barcelona and surrounding areas.
My photo triptych "Faith, Hope, Touch" considers the possibility of a different perceptual framework for experiencing the world. Are we able to to cross boundaries not, for example, by using words but with the language of touch?
Although the triptych "A/The Black Sheep" may be seen as a criticism of religious intolerance, it contains first and foremost the feeling of being an outsider, of the lack of approval by the society.