JOHANNA VÄISÄNEN – Deep Forest Green Surrounding You

 MUU Gallery


Manifestations of the forest

Our idea of the forest is in conflict with reality. The reality of the forest is dictated by our current living standard, but how much is the idea of the forest in the minds of Finns determined by imageries of the golden age of Finnish art?

Views of rocky forests and wide landscapes with wooded hills communicate a sense of pristine nature, yet the paintings also echo with the sound of axes cutting trees and smoke rising from burning brushwood. Things are being constructed, for humans to inhabit the land. People get their livelihood from nature. The idyll is beautiful and bleak.

Johanna Väisänen’s media installation Deep Green Forest All Around incorporates replicas of three paintings of the golden age (Wounded Angel, Burning the Brushwood and My Father’s Death) none of which contribute to the construction of an idealised image of the forest.

Deep Green Forest All Around investigates nature, humanity and the state of the forests from the vantage point of traditional paintings of the golden age, transposing onto nature the vulnerability and death of the people and the angel in the pictures. Yet the installation is not a dystopia nor does it foster hopelessness.

The work includes two audio narratives. The first-person narration is based in part on the artist’s personal experiences of nature in the 1980s. The other story is based on a scientific account of the rotting of wood, describing in detail the processes that take place in a tree that decomposes in a forest. That moss-covered tree with its peeling bark is an integral element of the visuality of pristine forests also in old paintings.

Plants squeak. Scientists have recorded sounds made by stressed plants. The ultrasounds are inaudible to the human ear, but it is possible insects or other plants react to them.

The installation Beetle Harmonium makes the same kinds of sounds as plants, communicating with beetles using audible frequencies. The chess board in the video is the scene of a slow, allegorical battle between beetles and chess pieces.

this press release
cannot be translated into the language
of angels, plants or animals.

Thank: Finnish Cultural Foundation