Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s Parallel Worlds

Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s Parallel Worlds

Moderna Museet

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, “The Annunciation,” 2010.*

February 11, 2012

Eija-Liisa Ahtila
Parallel Worlds

11 February–6 May 2012
Curator: Lena Essling

Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Exercisplan 4

111 49 Stockholm, Sweden



Eija-Liisa Ahtila is one of the most internationally recognised Nordic contemporary artists. Since her breakthrough in the 1990s, she has been a trailblazer in the development of cinematic installations. Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s works operate in the borderlands—questioning and exploring the conventions of the cinematic idiom and challenging habitual perspectives. Her position in the world of film became clear to a wider audience when she was on the jury for feature films at the Venice Film Festival in 2011.

“The cinematic device has this trust built around it, yet it can’t read all kinds of worlds and show them to us. I try to show that the worlds of, for example, nature and specifically human cinematic expression don’t meet. Even if they do exist in this world together, they are parallel,” says Eija-Liisa Ahtila, commenting on her work Horizontal (2011).

Eija-Liisa Ahtila is an idiosyncratic narrator in moving images, who probes questions on what it entails to be a human being and a subject. Her filmic installations challenge habitual perspectives and expose new perceptive worlds. She touches on and brings to life the current ongoing discussion on biopolitics and post-humanism.

Ahtila’s working process often begins with writing. Research on a subject is interwoven with fiction and references from art history and literature, in multifaceted narratives. A fascination for film as a technique and medium permeates Ahtila’s oeuvre. She twists and turns its very cornerstones, playing with the traditional cinematic narrative. Her works occasionally allude to a given, familiar style, culled from the commercial or documentary, undermining the viewer’s routine interpretation. In her large spatial works with multi-channel projections, the feeling of co-existing worlds is enhanced.

“A recurring element in her works is the sense of uncertainty—about distances in time and space, faltering mental states or indefinite identities. Ahtila seeks to make the viewer aware of how our experience of the surrounding world is both determined and delimited by our sensual perceptions.” says Lena Essling, curator.

The exhibition Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Parallel Worlds puts the emphasis on Ahtila’s recent output, with a few earlier works to provide reference points, including Me/We, Okay, Gray a video work from the early 1990s that has since acquired iconic status. Alongside sculptures and drawings, the installations Where is Where (2008), The Annunciation (2010) and the recent Horizontal (2011) are particularly noteworthy. Eija-Liisa Ahtila lives and works in Helsinki. Her works have previously been shown at the MoMA, New York, Jeu de Paume, Paris, Tate Modern, London, and Kunsthalle Zürich. She has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in both 1999 and 2005.

This exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue in four languages, with essays by Cary Wolfe and Alison Butler, among others. Designed by Ida Wessel and published by Steidl.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Parallel Worlds is produced by Moderna Museet in collaboration with Kiasma – Museum of Contemporary Art. After the exhibition period in Stockholm, it will tour to Carré d’Art in Nîmes and Kiasma in Helsinki.

The exhibition at Moderna Museet is sponsored by Brummer & Partners.

Film in focus at Moderna Museet this spring
Following its extensive focus on photography from the collection, the museum is now putting the spotlight on the moving image. The spring will see the presentation of key works from the museum’s collection of films and videos. Highlightning the importance of the moving image in art from the start of the 20th century right up to today. Alongside the spring’s major exhibition of works by the Finnish video artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila, we will be meeting some of the true trailblazers of the art film. These will range from the Russian avant-garde filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s Mannen med filmkameran (Man with a Movie Camera/ Chelovek s kinoapparatom), via the work of the legendary surrealist Maya Deren, to the abstract form language of Stan Brakhage, and to pioneers of video art such as Gary Hill and Dara Birnbaum. The immediacy and communicative power of film makes it an obvious tool for artists of the present day. We are also collaborating with Bonniers Konsthall on Before and After Cinema. Series of Lectures about the moving image together with the Department of Cinema Studies, Stockholm University. And an extensive programme in The Cinema under the title Art in the Cinema.

Before and After Cinema
Conference 9–10 March 2012
Cinema Sture, Stockholm

Before and After Cinema is an international conference on the status of the moving image in contemporary art, in the perspective of the shift from analogue to digital media, and what this means to distribution, perception, archiving and the making of art and film. The conference is a part of a larger collaboration between Bonnier’s Konsthall and Moderna Museet. The conference is co-produced by Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila; Artist
Sara Arrhenius: Director Bonniers Konsthall
Daniel Birnbaum: Director Moderna Museet
Dara Birnbaum: Artist
Jan Holmberg: CEO of the Ingmar Bergman Foundation and Curator of the Ingmar Bergman Archives
Magdalena Malm: Director Mobile Art Production
Christiane Paul: Professor of Visual Arts at the New School in New York and Curator of New Media Arts at Whitney Museum of American Art.
Ming Wong: Artist




*Image above:
© Eija-Liisa Ahtila/BUS 2011 / Crystal Eye Ltd, Helsinki. Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris. Photographed by Antti Ruusuvuori.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila's Parallel Worlds at Moderna Museet, Stockholm
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February 11, 2012

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