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Solo Exhibition by Finnish Film and Video Artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila at Parasol Unit
Eija-Liisa Ahtila, "Where is Where?", 2008. 53 min 43 sec. 6-channel projected high definition installation with 8-channel sound. Photographed by Marja-Leena Hukkanen. Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris. ©2008, Crystal Eye – Kristallisilmä Oy.
LONDON.- Parasol unit presents a major solo exhibition by the renowned Finnish film and video artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila. It will include three important video installations never before seen in England.

Ahtila is best known for works that concentrates on narratives in human life together with the relationships and primal emotions that underlie them. She describes her films as ‘human dramas’ because they play on the central themes of our existence, such as love, death, sexuality, the difficulty of communication, and individual identity – both its formation and disintegration. Her fictional stories emerge from interviews and extensive research, her own observation and memory. As Ahtila’s films are often shown on multiple screens or within complex installations, her stories unfold simultaneously within time and space, thereby creating a multi-layered experience that engages the viewer both physically and emotionally. Her masterfully crafted narratives, striking portrayal of characters and highly individual mode of expression have captured public interest and won much critical acclaim.

Where is Where? is a haunting and layered consideration of how the interpretation of history affects our perception of reality. It tells of a dramatic event that occurred during the Algerian War, when two young Algerian boys killed their French playmate in a colonialist conflict. Fifty years on, a European poet seeks to understand that act. Space and time fall away in the experiences and existentialist writings of the poet, as do notions of morality, religion, guilt and forgiveness.

The Hour of Prayer is a short tale about human nature, renunciation and death, which marks a watershed in the artist’s production. Via the events surrounding the demise of a dog, it tells the story of death entering a house and the process of dealing with grief. The material is shown in four simultaneous projections, the intention being to explore the possibilities of disrupting the traditional causal logic, structure and space for perception in screen narrative, while still being able to follow the events.

The exhibition will consist of three video installations Where is Where?, The Hour of Prayer and Fishermen, and will be accompanied by a new publication.

Filmed in West Africa in an area where locals frequently attempt illegal immigration to Europe in the hope of a better future, Fishermen is the first work in a series of five one-channel video installations called Études.1 It recounts the tale of a group of men who repeatedly and frantically attempt to get out to sea in the face of strong winds and heavy seas, in a vain hope to earn their daily food.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Parasol unit with the support of FRAME (Finnish Fund for Art Exchange) will hold a one-off screening of Ahtila’s film Where is Where? This UK premiere will be held at the Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square, on Wednesday 14th April 2010 at 7pm. It will be followed by a discussion between Eija-Liisa Ahtila and Stuart Comer, Curator of Film at Tate Modern.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila (born 1959 in Hämeenlinna, Finland), held her first solo exhibition in 1990 at the Tampere Art Museum, Finland, and since then has exhibited extensively in Europe and the USA. Her exhibitions include: 2009, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Denmark; 2008, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Kunstsammlung Nordhein-Westfalen, K21, Düsseldorf, Germany; 2008, Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Jeu de Paume, Paris, France; 2006, Eija-Liisa Ahtila: The Wind, MoMA Media Space, New York, USA; 2004, Intention to Fail, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, USA; 2003, Tokyo Opera City Gallery, Tokyo, Japan; 2002, Fantasized Persons and Taped Conversations, Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; 2001, Sala Montcada of Fundació "La Caixa", Barcelona, Spain; 2000, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany; 1999, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA; 1998, Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany.

Ahtila’s work has also been shown at numerous film screenings and festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival, Utah, USA; Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland; Hong Kong International Film Festival, Hong Kong, China; and film retrospectives at MoMA, New York, USA, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France and Tate Modern, London, UK.

Parasol Unit | Eija-Liisa Ahtila | Film and Video |




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