The Kingdom of Animals
I’m working on a series of video installations around the theme of animal-human relations. I’m approaching the subject from different angles; animals as subordinate to humans, the equal animal-human relationship and the mythycal animal-human hybrids.
India feels like the best place to start researching and looking into the subject. For years I’ve been intrigued with the Jain and their total respect for all living beings. The acts of brushing the ground before stepping on it to avoid killing any living being demonstrates the extent of respect. I feel that in europe we have lost this respect, changed it to an extremely subordinate relationship in which we dress our pets in designer outfits.
Mythical animal-human hybrids, animal deities and hybrid superheroes feel like ways to portray not only the relationship between animal and human, but what is happening in society at the time.
From experience, India always surprises and preconceptions on any subjects usually prove to be totally wrong or atleast extremely different from the preconceived. Having three months here, I’m trying to keep my mind open to all.
I lost my dearest companion, Pepi, a dalmation, almost a year ago. We had a fantastic journey together and she gave me the biggest gift of facing loss with love and respect. With some perspective now, I am attempting to look into our connection, the buiding of an egalitarian relationship and facing death together.
The rise of fasicm calls for new perspectives. I feel in these times we have the most to learn from animals and from the structures of the realtionships we have built with them.
”Toilet days are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If I have to go on other days, they tell me it’s not toilet day.Then I just have to wait for a day or two.”
A 70 year old in a nursing home in Helsinki, - the daily Helsingin Sanomat newspapers letters to the Editor 24.3.2014
In the past decades respect for aging citizens has collapsed in Finnish society. Already at 50 one can be unwanted in the workforce. When a person ages and is deemed useless, his/her worth and rights are withdrawn. Older people are hidden and isolated into institutions. My father has Alzheimer’s disease and I’ve followed closely the diminishing of his mind and rights. I wish to make visible the fates of these aging people in todays Finland.
Pet/Prisoner/Pensioner is an interactive and spatial video installation that uses Internet chat room discussions as a source for it's script. Short video clips based on the script form the body of the installation. A custom software plays the video clips in response to the viewers presence or absence. The installation has two characters played by experienced and award winning actors Riitta Elstelä (b.1940) and Kristiina Elstelä (b.1943). The set-up consists of two tables with flat screens, sensors and computers attached. The tables that face each other have stools in front of them for the viewers to sit on. When the seats are vacant the protagonists discuss with each other. Once the stool is occupied, the character greets the viewer and commence in discussion with them.
The installation is constructed so that it doesn’t need to be guarded, thus it can be shown in public spaces. Pet/Prisoner/Pensioner is non-linear, it has no ending nor beginning and can be approached anytime.
The themes and material for the installation are gathered from the Internet and from the experiences of the workgroup. The characters are created together with the actors. Improvisation will be used during the intimate shooting. An abundant video clip library will be categorized into themes and moods for the software to play. Pet/Prisoner/Pensioner has no set duration and no beginning nor end. The characters in the installation also communicate with each other in an arbitrary fashion, giving space for serendipity. These happy coincidences give the installation a new layer, a life of it’s own.