Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, in collaboration with ENSBA – Lyon – École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, presents the first Italian solo show dedicated to Riikka Kuoppala. The artist and filmmaker was born in Finland in 1980, studied in Tampere, Helsinki and Pittsburgh (USA), and today lives and works in Lyon and Helsinki.
The cookie house is the title of this exhibition, which combines two video installations by the young Finnish artist, in an attempt at conveying the suggestions that have emerged from her practice in the past few years. Under a Burning City (2010) is about the memory of war, and the way in which it is passed on to the younger generations. The protagonists, a grandmother and her granddaughter, are looking at the traces that the war left on their city. They evoke memories and try to find a common language to share and recollect past experiences. The film is set in Helsinki, a city that was repeatedly targeted with bombings 70 years ago. Living with traumatic memories is one of the key themes of this film, along with the difficulty of passing these memories on to someone who has not lived them. The film’s protagonists experience their memories as stories that help them survive an identity crisis. The gingerbread house which they build together represents individual experience in relation to the official truth, a silent truth that clashes against the reality of the new generations.
Just like Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread house, the cookie house Riikka Kuoppala invites us to explore is both fascinating and unsettling; sweet and irresistible on the one side, dark and frightening on the other – the two souls of memory, the two faces of emotion in connection with memory. We have all experienced first-hand the moment in which memory is passed on and re-lived – the power of these emotions, as sweet as they are insane, like a gingerbread cookie house, both sweet and spicy. Riikka Kuoppala manages to do away with the forced interpretation dictated by the emotional mechanism. She lets the oneiric, estranging, grotesque subtexts of the Brothers Grimm tale emerge, using them as the red thread that connects her works – the parent-children relationship, or better the absence of it, and the resulting, multiple metaphorical variations that can arise from these conflicts.
The video Couch, TV and VCR (2012) describes the identity crisis of an fictional adolescent, the questioning of her whole system of values, and her reaction to this. The installation connects different layers of her memory; it is a tale of how the family can sometimes be felt as a stressful, hostile, unfamiliar environment.
Selected by Ingrid Melano