9 nov 2011

Riitta Päiväläinen

Her photographs are based on site specific sculptures/installations she makes from clothes she buys in flea markets and thrift shops.

"I am interested in old garments because they carry silent unknown stories and histories ..."

For me, a  piece of clothing represents above all, its former wearer. It tells you that somebody has been present. However, the person who wore it is now gone... By freezing the garment or letting the wind fill it with air, I am able to create a sculptural space, which reminds me of its former user. This 'imaginary meeting' represents for me, the subtle distinction between absence and presence.
"Landscape plays an essential role. Landscape is not only a topographical, objective phenomenon. For me, it is personal and subjective. Working with a landscape means going into it: experiencing and sensing the place. When I place clothes into a landscape I create an installation. In this sense landscape can be considered as a stage. Bringing those two elements (landscape and clothes) together I create a dialogue - an interaction. My aim is to suggest and bring forth potential stories, mental images and associations".
"The unavoidable fact that I will never know the personal stories and actual histories connected with the clothes arouses my curiosity. The clothes remain silent withholding their secrets. Little by little, personal histories are absorbed into the collective history".

"This 'unwritten history' surrounds me all the time. I can feel its presence in various ways: as a rip in a coat; as a place worn thin in an armchair; as a light footprint on an inner sole of a shoe".

"Each of her installations, with a 'setting' (the landscapes), 'actors' (clothes) and 'atmosphere' (light), is carefully prepared. However, in working in natural elements, Paivalainen is also open to the accidental, the unforseen, and surprise.  By using photographs rather than the installation as the final work of art, she is able to choose the exact frame and moment she is looking for, and in so doing, maintains control over the decision as to what she includes and what she leaves out". (Andrea Holzherr).

Riitta Päiväläinen’s work is finally available in a book! ‘Imaginery Meetings’ is the title of the picture book published by Kehrer Verlag. The Finnish artist arranges installations in landscapes, using old clothes that she sources from flea markets or second hand stores, she then photographs the results.
Riitta sees these old, discarded clothes as abandoned ruins, faded traces of the previous owner, who banished them form their wardrobes and lives a long time ago.
They symbolise both the presences and absence of the previous owner. Landscapes in Finland, England and Japan have served as stages for the photographer’s presentation of the items of clothing.
Many of her series see her dip trousers and coats in water, waiting for the Finnish winter frost to freeze them. The freezing of the apparel makes them appear more animated, as if they are being worn by someone, they are given a sculptural quality, which opens various metaphoric and narrative doors.
Riitta Päiväläinen (*1969, Finland) is a member of the renowned »Helsinki School« and is represented by the TaiK Gallery, amongst others.
by Riitta Päiväläinen
published by Kehrer Verlag 

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