Riitta Päiväläinen, “River Notes”
Umeå, 13.3–16.4 2014
Riitta Päiväläinen is known for her temporary site-specific installations in nature, consisting of second-hand clothing and flea market fabrics arranged in familiar shapes or abstract patterns within the landscape and captured in color photographs. The main interest of the artist has been “the unwritten history” – the history that you cannot find in library books, official files or archives, but can be felt in the rip of a coat or in the arm worn thin on an armchair. This has led to a continuing series of investigations about the interplay and conversations between nature and objects. Päiväläinen’s new work “River Notes” continues on this theme but also looks further into our subconscious.
Landscape plays an essential role in Päiväläinen’s work. The isolated landscapes in which her work is installed becomes a starting point – a specific feeling, memory, shape, structure, color or element of the surrounding nature functions as inspiration as well as a temporary stage.
“Each of her installations, with a “setting” (the landscapes), “actors” (clothing), and “atmosphere” (light), is carefully prepared. However, in working in natural elements, Päiväläinen is also open to the accidental, the unforeseen, and surprise. By using photographs instead of the installation as the final work of art, Päiväläinen is able to choose the exact frame and moment she is looking for and in so doing, maintains control over the decision as to what she includes and what she leaves out.” – Andrea Holzherr, publicist and curator Magnum Photos, Paris
Päivälänen’s imagery has evolved during a period of working on a similar theme utilizing similar subjects. In ”River Notes” the artist explores the combination of ribbons and water reflections. Ribbons are cut, sewn together and rolled up into one large tight roll to ease the work with installations, making the structures reminiscent of bandages wrapped around limbs in the forest. The reflection in water changes the installation continuously: it can disappear in a blink of an eye as soon as the wind starts to blow. Working in nature changes the way the artist observes and moves.
“Wading in the rivers, streams, and flooded areas gives me a totally new perspective of seeing. I am in the world of beavers, fishes, and other water animals. I observe the nature from an angle and perspective that most of the people never do.” – Riitta Päiväläinen
In “River Notes”, water represents a mirage to our dreams, memories and our subconscious. Combined with the ribbons, the result is a riddle that lures the viewer further into the image.
Since her graduation from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 2002, Riitta Päiväläinen has had numerous solo and group exhibitions around Europe. Her work today can be found in several important collections, like Finland’s Kiasma and Sweden’s state Art Council. The exhibition has been made possible by a grant to Riitta Päiväläinen from Arts Promotion Centre Finland and founding from Frame Visual Art Finland.