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Announcement
September 17, 2013

Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Olentoja (Creatures)

Davis Museum at Wellesley College
Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Marian Ilmestys, The Annunciation. 3-channel projected HD installation, (32 minutes, 10 seconds; 16:9; DD5.1). Copyright Crystal Eye Ltd, Helsinki. Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris. © Jukka Rapo.

The Davis proudly presents the first major U.S. museum presentation of works by the internationally acclaimed Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila is best known for her lushly beautiful and psychologically intense videos, and for the precise calibration (of image, sound, and environment) of her installations. Vivid and mesmerizing, her videos are mysterious and open-ended, often imbued by notions of the sacred and miraculous in everyday experience. The work’s distinctive narrative complexity is further enhanced by multi-screen projection, designed to question both the nature of the “moving image” and the possibility of seeing from many perspectives at once.

Culled from over a decade of production, the pieces on view at the Davis—Horizontal (2011), Anthropomorphic Exercises on Film (2011), Companions (2011), The Annunciation (2010), and The House (2002)—demonstrate the depth and range of the artist’s practice. Recently, Ahtila has been inspired by German biologist/philosopher Jacob von Uexküll’s notion of umwelt (from the German word for environment), which posits the multiplicity and simultaneity of world-views among creatures. The projects selected for this exhibition are filled with beings—human, animal, magical, and botanical—poised in uncertain relationships.

Ahtila is a storyteller, describing her works as ‘human dramas,’ focusing on relationships, often among women, and with the natural world. Deftly navigating the gap between reality and imagination, her work explores the interaction between the realms of the human, the animal, and the divine.

For the exhibition title, Eija-Liisa Ahtila chose the Finnish word “Olentoja” (Creatures), which captures this scope and adds something ineffable—”a bit more soul.”

International cultural theorist, critic and artist Mieke Bal will be participating in several events held in conjunction with Eija-Liisa Ahtila:Olentoja (Creatures). On September 21, Bal will join Ahtila in a discussion on ‘The Politics of Art,’ which celebrates the global launch of Bal’s newest publication, Thinking in Film: The Politics of Video Installation According to Eija-Liisa Ahtila. On September 23, Bal screens her latest film, Madame B., based on Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and on September 25, she will give a mid-day gallery talk at the Davis on the exhibition.

For full event details, visit www.davismuseum.wellesley.edu

Born in 1959, Ahtila studied filmmaking at the London College of Printing, UCLA, and at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. In 1990 she received the Young Artist of the Year Award, Tampere, Finland. Since then, she has received numerous grants and awards, including an AVEK-award for important achievements in the field of audio-visual culture (1997), the Edstrand Art Price (1998), a DAAD fellowship (1999), honorary mention at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999), the Vincent Van Gogh Bi-annual Award for Contemporary Art in Europe (2000), and a five-year grant from the Central Committee for the Arts (2001), as well as the Artes Mundi Prize (2006). She also exhibited in documenta XI (2002) and the 50th Venice Biennale (2005). Parallel Worlds, a major mid-career survey of her work, traveled between the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki.

Curated by Lisa Fischman, Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis, the exhibition and related programs are presented with major support from the Kathryn Wasserman Davis ’28 Fund for World Cultures and Leadership, special funding provided by Wellesley College Friends of Art at the Davis, and additional support from FRAME, Visual Art Finland.

About the Davis
One of the oldest and most acclaimed academic fine arts museums in the United States, the Davis Museum is a vital force in the intellectual, pedagogical and social life of Wellesley College.  It seeks to create an environment that encourages visual literacy, inspires new ideas, and fosters involvement with the arts both within the College and the larger community.

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