We often like to think that Finns have a special and beautiful relationship with nature that is passed down from generation to generation. This is not necessarily true. Historically, peoples like ours who have lived among the forest have had a more practical, pragmatic relationship with nature. One in which one’s relationship with nature is not thought of, but the forest is. Nature has been an adversary, an adversity, something to be exploited as a material for one’s own survival. Now, from many directions at once, talk of a relationship with nature seems to be emerging. Nature has become so distant from us that we can now look at our own relationship with it. This familiarity and alienation are the counterpart that has fueled my creative work.
Domestication was an ensemble constructed in the gallery space using video, sound and installation. A larger video projected on the entire wall showed a forest and plants appearing and disappearing there, as exotic species and in pots, simultaneously out of place and in their natural environment. The same plants were assembled in the gallery space in an altar-like composition around a television set that presented a clichéd nature catalogue aestheticised to the extreme. The soundtrack is an authentic, unedited soundscape recorded in a nature reserve.
Domestication ponders the limits of the natural. Is a plant only natural in its natural environment? What about a bred houseplant? Is its natural environment on a windowsill?
White ceramic pots protect the roots of houseplants even in the forest. I was afraid I would receive insects as gifts that would destroy my plants. How ironic would it be if, while photographing nature, I lost my entire collection of houseplants to aphids as a result? I wondered if it would get too cold outside for plants used to room temperature, if a rubber tree would lose its leaves? The plants were much better off in a gallery space, domesticated in a controlled urban environment, surrounded by people.
After shooting the forest video, the detachment of the plants seemed emphasised, underlined. Even in a group, they are not only separate from nature, but also from each other, quite unlike the endless blueberry patch in the forest, where it is difficult to tell what is one plant and what is another.
Domestication was exhibited in Turku B-gallery 24.8.-4.9.2016