Salla Tykkä

Cave and Zoo

19 May 2007 - 15 July 2007

This exhibition features four short films by Finnish artist Salla Tykkä including her most recent film Zoo (2006) and a trilogy of earlier films: Lasso (2000), Thriller (2001) and Cave (2003).

In Lasso a jogging girl comes to a window of a suburban Finnish house where she watches a young man performing an elaborate and exhausting lasso routine inside his lounge. In Thriller, set in remote woodland in late autumn, a young woman locks herself in her bedroom and dreams dark thoughts. Cave features a woman in white compelled to investigate questionable drilling in a deep ice cave. In Zoo a stylish woman explores animal enclosures at a zoo with a camera in hand; the film is punctuated by scenes of an underwater rugby game, creating moments of frenzied, violent activity.

Writer James Rondeau has commented that 'Tykkä's practice can be understood as an exercise in extended self­portraiture. She examines her own emotional life through a series of situational abstractions in which meaning is conveyed through image, action, metaphor and symbol! These 'situational abstractions' are scenes which show a female protagonist at a moment of awareness or discovery, which usually takes place in the outdoors. Across these four films we see young women in various stages of physical development; the youngest is perhaps the girl in Thriller, (although the age difference between her and the female lead in Lasso is unclear). Cave features a woman in her early twenties and Zoo features a sophisticated woman perhaps in her thirties.

Tykkä has noted: 'I believe people have many things in common emotionally and so, if I understand myself, this feeling can be transferred to my pieces and through them to the audience'. Viewers may indeed find that parts of these films strike emotional chords, as Tykkä taps into feelings of yearning and contradictory moments when we want both isolation from, and connection with, other people. In some films a sense of 'unfulfillment' manifests itself in the desire for drastic action, particularly in Thriller, where in a climactic moment the young girl shoots a sheep dead through a window.

Part of the emotional intensity of Tykkä's films comes from their moody, atmospheric soundtracks which are taken from well-known film scores: Lasso features Ennio Morricone's famous track from Sergio Leone's film Once Upon a Time in the West (1969); Thriller features theme tracks from John Carpenter's horror movie Halloween (1978) and Brian De Palma's film Carrie (1976), composed by Pino Donaggio; the soundtrack for Cave is from David Lynch's film Dune (1984), composed by Toto and Brian Eno; and the soundtrack to Zoo (composed by Finnish composer Max Savikangas) echoes the work of Alfred Hitchcock's favoured composer Bernard Herrmann.

Various commentators have noted Tykkä's use of windows, mirrors and reflections at moments of revelation and self ­awareness. Some have related this to the medium of film, which offers us a view, or insight, into a particular moment. When asked about the attraction of working in moving image, Tykkä once replied: 'For me the attraction is that I think this could be real life. I have wondered about the way people see their lives. If you close your eyes and then use your memory it's like a film-the image enters and is projected in the back of your brain. I think there's something that is inside you, built in already, innate-it's connected to memory-that's why I use film!

While Tykkä draws upon cinematic history through her re-use of notable soundtracks and certain stylistic devices, these films are never pale imitations of originals. Rather the familiar elements serve to draw us in and, once Tykkä has us, her carefully crafted and unexpected stories and situations unfold.

Born in Helsinki in 1973, Salla Tykkä is a leading young Finnish artist working in film and photography. Recent solo exhibitions include 'Lucid Dreams', de Appel, Amsterdam and Museum Het Domein Sittard, the Netherlands (2006); 'Salla Tykkä', Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland (2006); and 'Salla Tykkä', Chapter Gallery, Cardiff, Wales (2006). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany; Galician Center for Contemporary Art, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; and the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania. This is her first exhibition in New Zealand.

Exhibition initiated and toured by City Gallery Wellington, with the support of FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange. 

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