AboutETTIE HORN is pleased to present It's My Island, a solo exhibition by Finnish artist Antti Laitinen; featuring a selection of videos, photographs and an installation.
In his latest body of work, It's My Island (2007), Laitinen builds his own island in the Baltic Sea by dragging two hundred sand bags into the water over a period of three months - using nothing but a spade, sand and sacks. Individually filling each of the bags with sand, the three simultaneous videos go on to show Laitinen painstakingly dragging each bag, one by one, into the sea, braving the harsh waves and conditions, until the island starts to appear over the water.
In this repetitive and idiosyncratically absurd performance, Laitinen explores notions of nationality - building his own independent micro-nation inhabited by a single citizen - and questions fundamental issues of citizenship and identity. When the island is built, Laitinen then carefully documents it in a series of large-scale photographs which are noble representations of the beautiful and romantic landscape which is so present in Laitinen's work. Each photograph revealing different aspects of nature's emotional influence on the landscape from a calm and idyllic setting to a foreboding stormy seascape.
Many of Laitinen's works deal directly with fundamental issues of Finnish identity and cultural imagery - they are pictures of masculinity set in a context of nature and culture. And yet, Laitinen is not just a humorist playing around with cultural meanings - his work attests to the presence and attitude of an author who is aware of the tradition of experimental performance art. Often we see Laitinen pushing the boundaries of his physical endurance and comfort in order to engage with the world and thus creating a dialogue between the artist's exploration of his own identity and the wilderness.
In Laitinen's case, the term work needs be defined with care. Many of his works are actually composed of various stages in the process of its making, when he moves from one medium and semantic context to the next. The switch produces a new, independent work, which then becomes part of the overall piece and thus incorporating different temporal stages.
In Finland, performance art consolidated its position as an independent art form in the 1980s. Antti Laitinen (b. 1975) belongs to a new generation of authors whose work reappraises the heroic ethos and underlying notions of the artist in performance art. Laitinen's idiosyncratic approach lends a new perspective as well as a universal dimension of humour to his performances, a humour that arises from a meeting between impossible and incommensurate elements.