I live in a terrace house apartment with my partner and a four year old child in Rajakylä Oulu. The house and its yard consists a some what generic middle class atmosphere with a late 90's aesthetics. We have a backyard equipped with a covered wooden terrace and a small lawn area. Backyard is separated from the outside world with the typical white wooden fence that is in a desperate need of painting. Behind the fence there is a ten meter wide meadow strip that is pierced with a small trail, and behind that a ditch and a forest that is a bout to turn into a residential area in few years.
The Pieter Hugos installation in Kiasma as a part of the ARS 11 exhibition was something that affected me a lot by that time and I can clearly notice that it had left a certain mark in me that keeps on driving me with my perceptions on art making.
Thing that caught my eye in this installation, was the simple way of using video portrait. On piece of the exhibition was the installation that consisted the pile of old tv’s that played videoportraits of persons burning the electronic waste and collecting the metals to be sold. In front there was a person standing still and behind a person this apocalyptic procedure was taking place.
The imagery and its installation created incredibly strong atmosphere of presence and at the same time feeling of alienation and otherness. It was like persons from the end of the line, where we dump our leftovers were saying to us “hi there, how is it with you guys” It was like the image of two floor people. we as persons who dump the shit in the floor below, not knowing and caring what happens to it, and the actual persons in the basement, taking care of it.
I see these portraits as a sort of performances directed and organised by the Hugo, where the subject of the portrait acts as a performer. The background and the environment acts as a set of this performance and creates a meaning and describes the dimensions of the supposed person in presented in the portrait.
In this particular image the performer is named David Akore. I do not have any information about his background or……
In these portraits the subjects are shown as a part of the environment they are working in. This place and the work implemented by these persons is the actual reason and the cause of producing these images. By placing the person at the center of the image as a main character of the performance Hugo as how I see it, wants to emphasize the fact that there are actual living individuals working in these circumstances that are caused by the western countries ways of getting rid of their waste at the cheapest manner possible.
The decision to place the person on the front posing to camera instead of just filming the actual work being made makes it more personal and intense. The character of the individual comes forth and arouses a suggestion of communication. It seems as the subjects of the portrait are making a statement or a question to the person viewing the image. The set acts as a concept and defines the quality of the statement or the question being made. But what do for example the David Akore in this certain image expresses to me? What is his intention? To me it looks like he simply states that this is my work. There is certain sense or pride in his posture under the obvious physical fatigue caused by the gruelling labour. This is the performance of showing the connections between the individuals ways of surviving in the environment, by using and forming the environment and the environment and it circumstances affecting the individuals ways of presenting themselves. Persons and the environment are connected, they are consequences by each other’s and the and the performance depicted in the image could not be whole without the other. The space and the person are dependent of each other by both being active actors in the phenomena presented.
There are multiple aspects in this body of work that raise the subjection of the possible ethical problems. At first as mentioned before, Hugo presents these images, videos and the installation as is work. The ideological attribute of the work are formed by him and the whole representation is the structured by his vision. By this way we don’t know whether the actual people presented in these portraits would have wanted to have themselves and their work to be presented in this manner.
As the aesthetics of these images and especially videoportraits effected highly to my own artistic thinking and ways of seeing things I have had strong urge to use somewhat similar elements in some of my works and at least explore the same kind of aesthetics. In the videos below shoot in the backyard of my home I have attempted to create a some kind of visible representations of the links between different meanings, and signifying elements. I wanted to expose something from the unnatural superficial nature of the relationship between myself and my backyard. It may seem like a bad humour, coarse and even offending suggestion to somehow relate or attempt to make an analogue between these portraits from totally different kind of worlds with such a heavy burdens of power structures, appropriation and historical…..?
But still and mainly because of that I want to dig in to the subject and observe the actual phenomena presented in appearing in the way these portraits carried out by the performances are set. What signifiers, meanings and connections are implemented in this particular aesthetic form of expressing by portraiture.
Or as I see it in this case.
The problem here is that the performance is not as far as I have understood written by the subjects of the portraits but by the Hugo himself. And this raises a question for myself about how and what do express when I produce a performance by myself in the environment very familiar to myself? What do I want to show, what do I actually show and what do I want to hide? ...Erwin Goffman....!!!
Me in my backyard, being, 2021
The way of being in the livingroom, 2021, video and sound
Television and other furniture
Television controls the way of being and performing in the livingroom. ........... (Hall, Doug., and Sally Jo. Fifter, 1990 sivu 126 ja 21))
Even though there are no television in our living room, the furniture and the decoration is assembled as the basis of the idea that the whole idea of the room is to sit passively on the couch and watch the tv. ther eis a couch ofcourse and it is posited write next to the wall and across the room there is a plank space on a tv counter, wher ethe tv should be. We do have a videoprojector and the silverscreen on the wall to watch the movies so it also repeats the ..........
So when I think about my self being and acting in a livingroom, I just sit on the the couch passively. Im no tactually observing anything because of course there is nothing to be observed. Normally when sitting on the sofa, any need to observe anything is dimished by the material projected to me from the streaming servises where the employees have already made the desisions of observation before my half.
Hall, Doug., and Sally Jo. Fifter. Illuminating Video : an Essential Guide to Video Art. New York (NY): Aperture, 1990. Print.