May 19, 2004 - Whitney Museum of American Art - Liisa Roberts
May 19, 2004

Liisa Roberts


LIISA ROBERTS presents a new film as part of the 2004 Whitney Biennial: WHAT’S THE TIME IN VYBORG?

Friday and Saturday, May 21 and 22, 2004 7 PM

The Kaufmann Conference Rooms
Institute for International Education
809 United Nations Plaza, 12th Floor
New York City

Image: Liisa Roberts. Production still from What’s the Time in Vyborg?, (2001- ). 16mm film, sound. Photograph by Boris Nikandrov; courtesy the artist and Sylva Mysterium Oy, Helsinki

Liisa Roberts’s new film What’s the Time in Vyborg, 2001-04, features the distinctive library in Vyborg, Russia, designed by the great Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto. The New York presentation of this film will take place in another of Aalto’s creations, the Kaufmann Conference Rooms at the Institute for International Education.

Since 2000, the Finnish-American artist Liisa Roberts has undertaken an ambitious artistic project in the Russian city of Vyborg. Unfolding in a wide spectrum of disciplines, from architecture to education, the project has engaged the complex history and identity of the city, which was founded under Swedish rule and has alternated between Finnish and Russian control. The project takes as its starting point the municipal library, designed by Aalto in the late 1920′s, while the city was still a part of Finnish territory and known as Viipuri. The library today in many ways reflects the tension between the city’s Finnish and Russian backgrounds. Roberts became involved in the effort to restore the building and encouraged recognition of the library’s original physical design, as well as changes made by a Soviet renovation in the 1960s. Noting that Aalto’s design principles are based on humanism and close attention to surroundings, Roberts argued for the incorporation of the Soviets’ modifications in order to acknowledge that the city’s contemporary Russian context should be an integral part of the building’s restoration.

In 2001, the library’s auditorium served as the setting for the creative writing workshop What’s the Time in Vyborg? led by Roberts together with St. Petersburg-based psychologist Olga Maslova and Lithuanian translator Edgaras Platelis. The workshop was open to all teenagers living in the city, with the goal of preparing a script based on their narratives of Vyborg. Participants were encouraged to confront and express their personal relationship to the city, its architecture and its history, and to prepare presentations of their perceptions in various real time forms. These included a series of television reports on Vyborg’s local television, a project for a cinema in the library developed with The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of the Library, and a series of performance-based excursions of the city for former Finnish residents. The project has since continued to develop in the form of an exhibition, extending the historical and architectural archive of Vyborg to incorporate contemporary perspectives.

For more information, please call 1 (800) WHITNEY.
Advance tickets can be purchased at the Whitney Museum of American Art or by calling 1 (877) WHITNEY.

The 2004 Biennial Exhibition continues at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, through May 30.

Produced by: Liisa Roberts and Cilla Werning, Silva Mysterium oy, Helsinki

This film has been supported by: Centre National de la Cinematographie, Paris; Goran Christenson, Malmo Konstmuseum, Malmo; Mika Hannula, Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki; Timo Humaloja and Veli Grano, AVEK, Helsinki; Yvon Lambert, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris; Friedrich Meschede, DAAD, Berlin; NIFCA-Punkt residency program; Willem Peppler; Marketta Seppala, FRAME-Finnish Fund for Art Exchange, Helsinki; Ilya Szilak and Chris Vroom, New York; Sari Volanen, YLE-TV1, Helsinki.

Altria Group, Inc. is the lead sponsor of the 2004 Whitney Biennial. Major support is provided by Banc of America Securities and The Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston. Significant funding for the 2004 Biennial has been provided by an endowment created by Melva Bucksbaum, Emily Fisher Landau, and Leonard A. Lauder. Additional support has been given by the Director’s Council, The National Committee, and the Whitney Contemporaries of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Whitney Museum of American Art
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