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Events and public defences

Doctoral thesis: Audiovisual installations making visible the inequalities brought by globalization


The doctoral thesis of visual artist Minna Rainio, MA, provides an audiovisual and spatial representation of the inequalities inherent in the various dimensions of globalization. She addresses migration, refugeeism, and trafficking of women for prostitution through artworks and written research.

Photo: Mark Roberts

Migration and refugeeism challenge our traditional conceptions of nation states, national identities, and belonging. In her thesis Minna Rainio uses artworks and written research to address border-crossings as well as the processes of belonging and exclusion in the context of globalization and migration. She also examines the ways in which art can take part in the socio-political discourse on global inequality in an ethically sustainable way.

The artistic part of the dissertation consists of three multichannel moving image installations that Rainio has created together with visual artist Mark Roberts. Angles of Incidence (2006) deals with the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers living in Finland, while Eight Rooms (2008) addresses the international trafficking of women for prostitution. The installation Maamme/Vårt Land (2012) presents non-native Finnish citizens singing the Finnish national anthem. The artworks have been on display in numerous exhibitions in Finland, Europe, the United States, and South America.

The Shadowy Rooms of Globalization

Minna Rainio’s dissertation focuses on places that she calls shadowy rooms of globalization. The rooms manifest borders, power, belonging and exclusion. They are cultural and mental liminal spaces that can be viewed as uncertain, shifting, and temporary.

The shadowy rooms of globalization, as described in the Angles of Incidence installation, refer to the interrogation rooms of border crossing and police stations, to refugee reception centres, and to the offices of the Finnish Immigration Service, where a ceaseless dispute takes place over who will be included in Finnish society and who will be excluded, notes Rainio.

In the Eight Rooms installation, the globalized world’s economic and gendered power relations as well as the associated inequalities materialize and are intimately experienced as women's bodies are being traded in mundane hotel rooms. The Maamme/Vårt Land installation is a diasporic space where variations of Finnish identities and the related cultures, ethnicities, and societal relations converge.

Written research and artworks complementing each other

Minna Rainio refers to the moving image installations in her research as audiovisual cultural studies in an installation space.

– The artworks address social phenomena through their own methodology, including the visuality, narrative, and sound of moving images as well as the spatiality of the installation, says Rainio.

The written part of the research is interdisciplinary and situated in the field of cultural studies. It deepens, conceptualizes, and linguistifies the social questions raised by the artworks and attaches the works to a broader social context. The written part and the artworks progress side by side, in dialogue and by complementing each other.

– The interface between art and research – an intersection of conceptual thinking and multisensory experiencing – may create new ways to encounter reality that can make social problems visible politically and enable encountering other people’s experiences ethically, notes Rainio.

Information on the public examination of the dissertation:

The doctoral thesis The Shadowy Rooms of Globalization. Spaces of Inclusion and Exclusion, and the Politics of Belonging in Multichannel, Moving Image Installations by Minna Rainio, MA, will be publically examined in the Faculty of Art and Design at the University of Lapland on Saturday 25 April 2015 at 12 noon in lecture room 2, Yliopistonkatu 8, Rovaniemi. The opponent is Docent Tutta Palin, PhD and Academy Research Fellow, from the University of Turku and the custos is Professor Marja Tuominen from the University of Lapland. Rainio’s thesis entails an artistic part, the recording of which is presented on the examination day from 09.00 to 12.00 in lecture room 2. Welcome!

Information on the doctoral candidate:

Minna Rainio, MA, (born 5 November 1974 in Kangasala) graduated in 1993 from Helsinki Upper Secondary School of Visual Arts. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at the Surrey Institute of Art & Design University College in 1999 and her Master’s degree at the University of Lapland in 2004.

From 2006 to 2008 Rainio worked as a researcher in the national Elomedia Doctoral Program of Cinema and Audiovisual Media, coordinated by the University of Art and Design, Helsinki. From 2009 to 2011 she worked as a visiting associate professor in photography at the University of Minnesota and from 2012 to 2013 as a university lecturer of visual communication at the University of Lapland.

Further information:

Minna Rainio
Tel. +358 40 721 5215

The press release copies of the dissertation are available at the Lapland University Press, tel. +358 40 821 4242, julkaisu(at)ulapland.fi.

Information on the Publication:

Minna Rainio: The Shadowy Rooms of Globalization. Spaces of Inclusion and Exclusion, and the Politics of Belonging in Multichannel, Moving Image Installations. Acta Universitatis Lapponiensis 300. ISBN 978-952-484-813-8. ISSN 0788-7604. Web version (pdf): Acta Electronica Universitatis Lapponiensis 168. ISBN (pdf) 978-952-484-814-5. ISSN (pdf) 1796-6310.

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