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Reconnaissance

Minna Langstrom and Jaako Niemela
2006
InterAccess, Toronto
 

  In Minna Langstrom and Jaako Niemela's installations presented at InterAccess, it becomes difficult to draw a sharp distinction between what is real and what is illusory. Nothing is like, as it seems on first glance. The works invite closer examination. Reconnaissance, the title of the show reflects this notion - it summarizes in one word, the process of observation, investigation, survey and scrutiny. Reconnaissance marks the first time Langstrom's and Niemela's works are shown in Toronto. The artists come from Finland; a country covered in pine forests, the land of many thousand lakes, white nights and fairy tales. Due to advanced technological sophistication, it could be also called an electronic fairyland. In Finland's arctic north in the month of June, the sun does not set for more than seventy days. Midsummer -the longest night of the year- is celebrated all over the country, with food, drinks, singing and bonfires. According to an ancient belief, demons and witches are on the move during Midsummer - the bonfires supposedly drive them away. But do the demons actually disappear? Or do they lurk in the shadows? 

 Shadows characterize Niemela's installations. Employing scrupulously constructed scale models, he plays with light and darkness, space and spatial structures. Notions of control, surveillance, destruction and reconstruction inform his work. He is known to develop narratives in his installations that unfold dramatically for the audience. In this process familiar objects become strange and terrifying. "When you are about to fall asleep -noted Niemela- the toys in the nursery can turn into monsters."

 The soothing baby-blue ambience of Minna Larmstrong's nursery is deceptive. The playful act of bubble blowing produces (electronic) suds filled with disturbing, violent images recalling the war in Iraq. Bubble, draws a parallel between western societies and a nursery, where toys produce sounds and images of death, war and other people's suffering. This concept is conveyed via mediated information, often presented as entertainment. The pictures are blurred; the soundtrack is soothing, creating the illusion of distance and false security.

 


 
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