Exploring the Bodybuilding exhibition at the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art 20.10.2017 – 14.1.2018.In the exhibition, the theme of body presenting and experiencing is approached through eleven artists; videos, installations and audio/dance installations. The artists of the exhibition: Artor Jesus Inkerö, Essi Kausalainen, Reija Meriläinen, Sini Pelkki & Jani Ruscica, Aurora Reinhard, Iiu Susiraja, Niina Tervo, Masi Tiitta, Anna Torkkel ja Salla Tykkä.

Under the gaze

Sini Pelki’s and Jani Ruscica´s video installation Screen Test (For a Living Sculpture) welcomes the visitor. The solid gaze of a living statue meets the viewer without shame. A feminist concept, ’male gaze’ comes to mind, but on the other hand, the statue stares intently, regardless of the gender of the subject. The video is completely silent, which adds to the hypnotic ambience. The work is placed so that the gaze reaches almost every corner. Underneath the gaze you cannot go unnoticed. The nature of the gaze reflects the power structures between the people. Who has the right or need to look at who and why. In the video, the immobility is broken, and the viewer gets caught up.


Body image or image of the body

The name of the exhibition in Finnish is ambiguous. It can mean either a body image or an image of the body. On the other hand, both meanings will be treated in an exhibition that examines the practices of body presentation and body experience. Identity is treated as a repetition of the learned gestures. The use of power between the photographer and the subject also emerges as the theme of the exhibition. Many of the artists use their own body as an instrument in the works.

Artor Jesus Inkerö has shaped his body in the gym for two years. The aim of the project is to seek a normative male figure. Inkerö wanted to transform into a dominant white cis-man. In the video installation, iron rises, sweat drains and you can almost smell the power of masculinity. Interestingly, it is Inkerö´s view that when training, the body is actually destroyed, because lifting the weights leads to breakage of the muscle tissue. The artist ponders, something even more spiritual will be lost with this project.


In self-portraits the artist exposes himself to criticism. Therefore, criticisms may be more vulnerable. Body image – the word recalls self-awareness and appearance pressures. Two of the most important elements of the body image are the subject’s own opinion of his/her body and the value given to the body by subject. In several studies, media have been considered to play a major role in creating appearance pressures. Imagery creates an idea of the ideal body that many take to their goal, never to achieve it – resulting in eternal dissatisfaction with themselves.

The secret of the white cube

The term white cube refers to a state in which white smooth surfaces form a place where works of art are limited to their own state. Usually it is a museum building, but the same applies to galleries. After the exhibition, there is a moment in a stalled state where memories live. Soon, the traces will be repaired, and the wall is painted in shimmering white. The white color contains all the colors of the rainbow. It reflects words such as
purity, hope, justice.

The museum often represents persistence and monumentality. Today, museum architecture is striving to be both visible and invisible, open and closed, bright and obscure. Experiencing space is always an essential part of the museum experience. The white cube mode controls our way of experiencing an exhibition. Contemporary art seeks out passive viewers for active viewing. However, the exhibition has always been chosen
as a perspective that we either accept or questioned.

In the museum, it is allowed to be slow, silent and forget the pressures of multitasking. We are tuning our senses to the experiences. We avoid other museum visitors, but we are at the same level of communication, mentally present, without words. Interestingly would be
an experience of an exhibition that is experienced at the physical body level. A modern white cube that excludes the rest of the world has long been a subject of tough criticism. This may sound controllable, but on the other hand it gives visitors the chance to calm down and focus on all senses. The cube offers at its best a meditative state.

Encounter with abject

The works of Reija Meriläinen take a position on topical issues: in society others are more vulnerable than others. She points out the threat to the body and the violence that is being treated in an almost entertaining sense. The video Crush freezes the viewer to bench to follow the hydraulic press which crushes jelly-like hands and feet. Video is brutal, physical and at the same time extremely fascinating. The video could be described as an abject, which is a concept that comes from a French psychoanalyst, Julia Kristeva. Abject is only visible as a kind of foreign experience. It
always involves the experience of horror. Something familiar but forgotten penetrates consciousness. Threaten of body boundaries causes strong reactions. Including life and death, either simultaneously or individually, the abject can retain its place unspecified.


Mirja-Riitta Sjöholm / Kunstportal



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