Katve (Sacred sites), Photographic Centre Peri. Photo: Hannu Seppälä

Lilli Haapala’s exhibition Katve (Sacred sites) takes place in Turku in the Photographic Centre Peri 1.12.-30.12. In this exhibition, you can walk into a very intriguing world of nature experiences that are not quite what they might look like at first sight and that can make you question your relationship with nature. Is nature something distant and separate from a human, something that is at its best when observed from a safe distance? The show circles around the same theme of the human-nature relationship as the theatre play Järkeni ei riitä, which I wrote about in my last post. Katve (Sacred Sites) consists of three 3D photograph installations and two video pieces, one of which is located outside the exhibition room. In this show, you get to experience nature through so many technical components that you start wondering where goes the limit of a real experience and what is untouched reality in the end?

The exhibition offers an interesting view to photography and pictures. The exhibition consists of only a few pieces which gives every work a certain feeling of significance. Different kinds of 3D glasses are placed before the 3D photographs and they form an important part of the pieces. The glasses that look like bombastic masques give quite a different feel to watching the 3D photograph than the ones that are exposable. The pictures look different through different lenses, just like every person perceives the nature differently. Some glasses even twist the colours of the pictures. This underlines the queer feeling of watching nature in a 3D photograph in an exhibition.

Katve (Sacred sites), Photographic Centre Peri. Photo: Hannu Seppälä

Haapala wanted to have the pictures in 3D for a certain reason. She studied photographic art in the Turku Arts Academy, before her current master’s studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki. While studying photography, she found herself always having a hard time approaching the space within a photograph and working with it. “The space in a photograph felt tight for me and I wanted to detach myself from the narrow frames. The photograph does not let one in, it is just a ghost, a mirage. In this exhibition, I wanted to dive into the picture, make it multidimensional and find depth where you can sink in. “

In this exhibition, nature seems to be going further and further the more technology you put in between. Somehow you are used to seeing pictures of nature, but why does seeing them in 3D give even more of a strange and artificial feel? I guess, pictures feel honestly like representations, but the 3D pictures give the feel of a human trying to make an artificial nature piece as alive as possible.

In some of the pieces, nature sets itself in a neat pose within the frames, but in some, animals escape to the outer edges of the picture. They still steal your attention, even though in most of the pictures a tree or a plant is in the centre. Haapala says she is especially interested in the human relationship with plants. “They enable our existence, but still, they are not necessarily perceived as living creatures.”

Katve (Sacred sites) Valokuvakeskus Peri. Photo: Lilli Haapala

The word ‘katve’, from the name of the exhibition, could be translated as a blind spot in English. It forms an interesting tension with the English part of the exhibition name. How are blind spots related to sacred sites? In the brochure of the exhibition it is mentioned how many sacred places have lain in Finnish forests and often a sense of something from another reality was related to these places. In the exhibition installations, nature seems close, but you are still not fully able to grasp it. The technology stands in between and makes it almost seem like the nature pieces are in another universe and you are shown a representation of them.

In the future, Haapala wants to lean more on biology and other natural sciences in her art. This January, she will be part of a glass container project of the city of Jyväskylä, in which she will continue to address the theme of natural science and infinity.

“The world is full of secrets that do not reveal themselves to the human. With art and science, we can, however, try to approach this invisible and hidden world. “

Karoliina / Kunstportal

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