Mika Taanila : THE END

Mika Taanila : THE END

STUK — House for Dance, Image & Sound

Mika Taanila, The Earth Who Fell to Man (still). Film. © Mika Taanila.

October 16, 2018
Mika Taanila
October 17–December 16, 2018
STUK — House for Dance, Image & Sound
Naamsestraat 96
3000 Leuven
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Curator: Karen Verschooren, STUK

“I like to see my works as pendulums. We stand looking back in time and sense the vision of the future there. It all goes back and forth constantly. Middle is where we stand today.”
–Interview Mika Taanila, Vincent Stroep, Ultra Eczema, 2010

STUK is delighted to present the work of Mika Taanila (°1965). In his work, Taanila rearranges existing materials, stories, and people to reflect on human’s condition in today’s society, often shaped by ideas and desires of scientific, technological and economic progress. With a practice spanning over two decades, Taanila has created a vast oeuvre of works ranging from beautifully paper-based sculptures such as Film Reader included in the Nordic Pavilion during the Venice Biennial 2017 to award-winning feature length films such as Return of the Atom (2015) and Tectonic Plate (2016).

For his solo exhibition in STUK, we selected four works providing an insight into Taanila’s practice.

The large triple-screen installation The Most Electrified Town in Finland (2012) presents a 15-minute long portrayal of Eurajoki, a small town of 6,000 inhabitants on the west coast of Finland and home to a nuclear construction site. With two nuclear reactors up and running since the 1970s, Eurajoki planned the construction of a third one, Olkiluoto 3 (OL3), intended to be the world’s most efficient nuclear reactor. The construction project ran into serious delays and its opening, originally planned for May 2009, has been postponed multiple times, the current estimate being September 2019. At a cost of ten billion euro, it is estimated to be the world’s second most expensive building (after a hotel complex called Abraj al-Bait, in Mecca).

Combining images of the construction site, images of nature, found footage and observations of the employees on-site, TMETIF creates a poetic compilation of a nuclear dream, trying to become reality against the backdrop of its surrounding; the town’s ambitions to become “The Most Electrified Town in Finland,” and those of its local residents.

The Most Electrified Town in Finland (2012) was created for and first presented at dOCUMENTA 13. The installation is based on the feature documentary Return of the Atom which Mika Taanila and Jussi Eerola worked on since 2004 and which premiered in 2015 at the Toronto International Film Festival.  

The marzipan “sculpture” Viimeinen käyttöpäivä [Date of Expiry] (2015) is shown alongside the video installation. As a ready-made, the treat also features in Return of the Atom, implying that nuclear energy can be considered a “sweet thing.”

“We must have died alone, a long long time ago.” –David Bowie

The exhibition continues with Taanila’s recent single-channel film The Earth Who Fell to Man (2017). Taking the Nicolas Roeg 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth as his source material, Taanila systematically “erased” man—most strikingly the protagonist alien played by David Bowie—from the screen. The piece consists solely of film shots in which no human beings are featured: landscapes, buildings, backdrops, roads, the sky, and the earth. The shots are screened upside-down and  enhanced by the sounds of earthquakes, falling rocks and landslides. The Earth—as the title suggests—seems to be falling to Man.

Nicolas Roeg’s film The Man Who Fell to Earth in turn was based upon American writer Walter Tevis’s 1963 novel of the same name about an extraterrestrial who crash-lands on Earth, in search of a way to ship water back to his planet. Three sculptural works based on different editions of The Man Who Fell to Earth complete the installation in STUK. For these works, Taanila used a process parallel to traditional film editing, i.e. splicing. The books are works of moving image, quite literally: images are moved and taken out, erased, cut out, transformed, and discarded. The edits create a new tangible landscape.

In THE END, Taanila presents a selection of works in which future fictions and ideas of progress, pushed forward by scientific, technological and economic developments, encourages us to question our relation to each other, our surroundings and the planet. At the same time, The Most Electrified Town in Finland (2012) once again sheds light on the urgent debate around (nuclear) energy provision. And STUK seems to be the perfect place to do this as it turns out, in Finnish STUK is short for Säteilyturvakeskus, which means Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.  

The exhibition THE END is part of a series of solo exhibitions in STUK by contemporary visual artists who have a particular affinity for the moving image and spatial video installations. Previous exhibitions in this series include Nevin Aladağ: ROLLIN’; Omer Fast: Appendix; Joachim Koester: Maybe this act, this work, this thing; Emre Hüner: Neochronophobiq; John Akomfrah: Auto Da Fé; and Bjørn Melhus: The Theory of Freedom.

Mika Taanila
(°1965, Helsinki, Finland)
Mika Taanila is a visual artist and filmmaker whose practice moves freely between documentary film-making and avant-garde cinema to the visual arts. In his work, ranging from paper-based work, sculpture and photography to films, video- and sound installations, Taanila questions the human condition in an increasingly technologized, mediated, and designed world. His works have been shown world-wide at major film festivals and important international group shows including the Venice Biennale (2017), Aichi Triennale (2013), Documenta (2012) Shanghai Biennale (2006), Berlin Biennale (2004), Manifesta (2002) and Istanbul Biennial (2001). Recent solo shows include Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (2013–14), Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2013) and TENT, Rotterdam (2013). He is the recipient of the 2015 Ars Fennica Award, Finland’s most important art award.

Mika Taanila lives and works in Helsinki. He is represented by balzer projects.

Works in the exhibition:
The Most Electrified Town in Finland (2012)

3-channel video installatie, screening format: digital files, original format: 16 mm film / video
3 x 1:1,77; väri & mv / colour & b/w, 5.1, no dialogue, 15 min., loop
Cinematography: Jussi Eerola / Sound Design: Olli Huhtanen / Music: Pan sonic / Production: Kinotar
Courtesy of the artist and Kinotar Oy

Viimeinen käyttöpäivä [Date of Expiry] (2015)
16x14x4 cm, marzipan, plastic wrap, ready-made
Courtesy of balzer projects

The Earth Who Fell to Man (2017)
single-channel video installation, HD video, 8 min., loop​
Courtesy of balzer projects

The Man Who Fell to Earth (split) (2017)
Prepared Cinema Book, Acrylic Frame, 20 x 38 cm
The Man Who Fell to Earth (profile), (2017)
Prepared Cinema Book, Acrylic Frame, 20 x 26 cm
The Man Who Fell to Earth (lamp), 2018
Prepared Cinema Book, Wooden Frame, 19 x 13 cm
all courtesy of balzer projects

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STUK — House for Dance, Image & Sound
October 16, 2018

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