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Artists' Association MUU » Vappu Rossi: Days of the Ice Bird
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Vappu Rossi: Days of the Ice Bird

vappurossi_80030 May – 20 June 2014

MUU Gallery

Opening on Thursday 29 May 2014, 5-7 PM. Welcome!

The exhibition is opened by philosopher Kai Alhanen.

Opening performance: CARBON BASED LOVE.
Dancer Ingrid André performs a version of the choreography from the media work.

In Halcyon Days, Vappu Rossi exhibits large drawings and media art. The works on show examine human temporal and emotional dimensions; corporeality, presence and absence. The chief motif is the human figure.

The drawings are large-scale facial studies constructed of massed lines, the wandering stylus weaving patterns that give shape to the figures. The seemingly simple medium is a powerful way to communicate emotion and experience. The subject is the inner world of the mind: repose and peace, fear and restlessness. The figures in Rossi’s work straddle the boundary between this world and the next, the style is receptive and delicate, sometimes forcefully graphical. Rossi trusts in the archaic power of drawing. Every line is visible – the drawing cannot hide its traces.

Halcyon Days also features the premiere of two media works. Carbon Based Love is a video in which a dancer meets a large drawing in a partly animated choreography. Created in collaboration with musician Milla Viljamaa and the Belgian-born dancer-choreographer Ingrid André, the work is a dramatic yet humorous take on meeting and longing. The wall drawing features the black, graphical tangles of branches and roots and their implied analogy with the veins and nerves of the human body that are typical to Rossi’s art.

The photographic media art animation Marriage is also shown publicly for the first time in this exhibition. In a framed double portrait, spouses slowly turn into one another – and back. The change is gradual, almost imperceptible at first glance. The work alludes to the ancient ‘truth’ that, over time, spouses gradually begin to resemble each other. The couple, mutely staring past one another, is a laconic comment on marital bliss. Apart from the humorous level, the slowly changing picture also investigates issues of gender and companionship – most of the time the picture actually shows two hybrids – as well as the passage of time and mortality.

The gallery also has a replica of the charcoal drawing seen in the Carbon Based Love video. Executed directly on the wall, the drawing becomes slightly smudged during the opening performance.

All works on show bear witness to Rossi’s love of drawing, whether in its simple, traditional form or in the form of adaptations informed by the vector of contemporary art, in spatial, cross-disciplinary, performative and technically complex variations.

Vappu Rossi (b. 1976) is a visual artist, media artist and graphic artist. Her work is based on drawing, but makes use of a wide variety of media: in addition to media art animations, she also creates light box works, paintings and prints. Gigantic site-specific wall paintings and collaborative projects with dancers and musicians are an important part of her work.


“Ice bird is a term that can be used for someone who withdraws too far from intercourse with other mortals. People who suffer from agonies and misfortunes in this dark world can also be called birds of ice.
While the ice bird broods, watches its chicks hatch and rears and cares for them, the waves of the sea lie still; it is said that the entire ocean is safe and calm. Greek and Latin poets often wished their friends setting out to sea to have ‘ice bird’ days, or Halcyon days.”

The body of the ice bird, or kingfisher, or parts of its body such as eyes, heart, feathers or stomach, were believed to have magical, even medicinal powers. They could be used to calm the sea, resolve disputes and awaken youth.

In Greek drama, Halcyon days – ice bird days – is considered to denote not only a socially calm period, but also the mild and clear days of mid-winter.

Wanochius, Anders and Humbla: Luonnontieteellinen disputaatio jäälinnusta, 1682 (‘Natural-scientific disputation on the ice bird, 1682’). In Suomen lintutieteen synty – Turun akatemian aika (‘Birth of Finnish ornithology – the period of Turku Academy’) (Lehikoinen, Lemmetyinen, Vuorisalo & Kivistö), p. 87–88. Jyväskylä 2009.
Antiikin draamat paljastivat myös sään (‘Ancient dramas also revealed the weather’), Helsingin Sanomat 1 April 2014.

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