• CREATING MEANING THROUGH FRAGMENTATION

    ON THE STORYTELLING CONCEPTS OF VESA-PEKKA RANNIKKO’S ART

    Aleksandra Oilinki

  • Vesa-Pekka Rannikko has always been interested in what happens in the spaces between – his pieces regularly escape familiar categorizations...

    still from the animation Fool's Paradise (2021)

    Vesa-Pekka Rannikko has always been interested in what happens in the spaces between – his pieces regularly escape familiar categorizations and can follow the logic of both a painting and a sculpture, with exhibitions shuffling together elements of installation, poetry, animation and even performance. The surface of the sculptures, formed of brushstroke-like layers resembling the surface of a painting, aims at shaking up what we think we are looking at, disorienting our eye between flat and three-dimensional. Similarly, the subjects of this exhibition operate on the borders of representation, taking their references from staged imagery ranging from generic stock photos found on internet, virtual forms of game and sci-fi characters, and popular culture to the history of art.

    Exhibition Lions Eat Grass expands the idea of questioning the supposed balance of certainty within representation from individual pieces to the exhibition space by adopting the method of fragmentation and jumbling up straightforward lines of narration. Formation of meaning – understood here as how a piece of art gets deciphered in the spectator's mind, is in itself a fluid concept that changes with the interpreter regardless of how intricate a roadmap the artist might have had in mind. Mixing up any clear-cut storylines by fragmenting the individual elements accentuates these places in-between and allows the viewer to fill the gaps in narration with their own contexts. Here, the visitor acts as the editor creating their own storyline. The sculptures with their references to the visual worlds surrounding us, have, despite being part of our shared culture, multiple points of identification. They can be connected through several paths, forming various overlapping narrations to navigate in. This multiplicity of interpretation opens up the door for a more active role of the viewer, with the visual links creating dialogues and passages to enter Rannikko’s network of ideas. The subtle clues of visual references act like mirrors, evoking reflections stemming from the viewers own experiences. Fragmentation as a method should be seen as an acknowledgement of the inevitable multiple interpretations spectators form, and as the logical continuation of that thought, pushing its borders even further.


  • From the art works escaping traditional forms to fragmentation fleeing fixed narratives, a theme of escape forms one route to navigate the exhibition. Escaping reality to virtual worlds of online games offers a sort of escape from one’s own identity: a chance to put on a different skin, where a more bodily escape from oneself is attained through trance and ecstasy. The exhibition itself proposes an escape from the white cube presenting the gallery space as a continuation of the animations and the virtual and imagined realities behind them. 

    Escaping most often entails the promise of a better place. Animation Fool’s Paradise combines visual fragments found on the mysterious paradise on the island of Källskär in Kökar, Åland. A Swedish baron named Göran Åkerfield, referred by the locals as “the Count” built an eclectic combination of Scandinavian and Mediterranean influences, creating his own haven on the Baltic Sea. In the animation, Källskär island as a closed world finds its counterpart of another isolated island in the South Pacific in Tonga. There a stranded group of boys thrived for a whole year in a real-life story of a paradise quite the opposite of the brutal chaos depicted in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. The illusion of transformation that the sculptures create – a sort of dissolution of an image from three-dimensional to two-dimensional and further into individual brushstrokes – continues in a more fluid flow in the animation. The foot of the bronze statue of Hermes runs and leaks like liquid, growing an ankle in place of its heel, re-emerging soon after as a hand with other forms running through it, shifting and flowing in organic movement. Hummingbirds lead the way as the black-and-red bugs, native to the area, creep their paths on the screen. Words appear, form sentences, and disappear like fleeting thoughts, imperfect and reflective as spoken word. The handwritten texts have spread onto the walls of the gallery, expanding the animation beyond its borders, submerging the viewer deeper into its world. 

    The sculptures present themselves as artifacts in an imagined, post-apocalyptic, post-humanistic museum, where different visual forms are displayed side by side, hovering or standing on their equally eye-delusory pedestals. In a similar manner with the eclectic collections of home-museums such as the one of the Count of Källskär, where a sort of a democracy of objects prevails, the visual backgrounds of the sculptures are also considered equal. As if a future archaeologist had gone through our imagery and compiled and sculpted them to an exhibition. The lush greenery in the animation Eden entails a reference to the illustrations painted by botanists of the past accompanying explorers on their colonialist travels to wild exotic paradises. The time-consuming and dangerous voyage takes on a different form in the 21st century, with the pandemic restricting access to faraway tropics. Rannikko too followed in the footsteps of an explorer from a less distant past, a visitor that roamed the gardens of the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, and documented his voyage with his camera phone to the platform of Google Earth. The animation acts as documentation of a documentation, a virtual antithesis of plein air painting documenting a man-made environment to mimic nature. 

    The sketch-like character of the lines and the texts describing the surroundings imply to an act of taking notes, and the fact that the pen strokes happen as we witness them, suggest that we share a temporal existence with the author, in the present moment. Virtual travels are always also travels in time: the imagined natural paradise beneath the domes of the Eden Project freezes an idea of a paradise of its time, and the photos added to Google Earth form yet another layer. The timeline of the exhibition is likewise fragmented with references to future through the post-apocalyptic dystopia imagined in the computer game Fortnite, to ancient past as a paradise lost via the bronze statuette of Hemaphroditus, and eventually to the paradox of all imagined paradises: ideas of future that become part of the past the moment they are presented. The staged and preserved quality of the residence of the Count at Källskär island, biblical visualizations of paradise as well as the fictive proposals of sci-fi can’t escape the frames of the time of their creation. In our present, on the lower part of the gallery walls, the grey beam familiar from touchscreens implies to imagine the space as a screen, a continuation of the animation’s virtual exploration almost suggesting to action – to swipe and to click.

     

  • Vesa-Pekka RannikkoGrace, 2020

  • Vesa-Pekka RannikkoPollination (Firecrown and Cabbage tree), 2021

     
  • Vesa-Pekka RannikkoFool's Garden, 2021 (EXCERPT)
    animated drawing, single channel 4K/ video in vertical monitor
    2 min 24 s on an endless loop 
    € 12,000
  • Vesa-Pekka RannikkoTrance, 2021



  • Vesa-Pekka Rannikko, (Skin) Bushranger, 2021

  • Vesa-Pekka RannikkoEden, 2021 (EXCERPT)

    single channel 4K/HD video in vertical monitor
    2 min 24 s on an endless loop 
    € 8.000

  • Sketches and references

  • Vesa-Pekka Rannikko, Parrot Sitting on Womans Shoulder, 2020



  • Vesa-Pekka Rannikko, Linkola, 2021

  • From Vesa-Pekka Rannikko's studio

  • Vesa-Pekka Rannikko (b. 1968) is a highly versatile artist working with sculpture, painting, video art, installation, animation, and photography. He...
    Vesa-Pekka Rannikko (b. 1968) is a highly versatile artist working with sculpture, painting, video art, installation, animation, and photography. He has made several large-scale public works, the most recent of which were commissioned by the cities of Vantaa and Espoo. Rannikko's art has been featured in various solo and group exhibitions and video art festivals both in Finland and internationally. Rannikko represented Finland in the Venice Biennale in 2011. His works are included in many important domestic and international collections, such as the collections of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Helsinki City Art Museum, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, and the Saastamoinen Foundation. In 2015 Rannikko was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Visual Arts.

    Animation Fool's Pradise was inspired by Vesa-Pekka Rannikko's artistic residence at the Källskär island in 2012 , supported by Åland Culture Delegation.



    download cv

    visit website