The concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe.
Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time
Light travels from Sun to Earth in approximately 8 minutes. From Andromeda, the furthest galaxy visible to the naked eye, it takes 2.5 million years for light to reach our planet. Due to the delay caused by the finite speed of light, we can see straight into the past just by gazing at the stars. Time is a mystery that has been attempted to be solved from its very beginning. In September Hippolyte Studio features Niina Vatanen’s exhibition Time is a Triangle, which comprises her new works. Each part of the installation is a repeated attempt to depict time and our perception of it.
Vatanen’s installation consists of photographs, videos and text. The title of the exhibition refers to the visual aspects of the works but also mathematics, with the help of which the fabric of time has been attempted to be unravelled since the times of early Egypt. The ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras and his school constantly investigated nature and its phenomena trying to find a mathematical solution to it all. A person’s experience of time is more complex than mathematical equations, always particular and personal. Even if human beings are physically tied to time, on a conceptual level time can be surpassed.
An important element in Vatanen’s work is a gnomon, a stick or rod used as the hand of a sundial. With the help of the shadow cast by it, the sun draws an invisible triangle in Vatanen’s images photographed on different dates and times. Brought into the gallery, the sundial loses its shadow. Frozen by the artificial light it only shows time at a standstill.
Time is an essential part in photography. Where camera captures time in a hundredth of a second, video picks up fragments of flowing time. The photographic videos seen in the exhibition show slow changes in cloud patterns and the endless movement of the ocean. The time in the video moves in the same pace as its viewer’s time, creating a strong experience of time passing.
Time is a Triangle is a puzzle put together from fragments of time aspiring to the experience of space, time and place. Author Marjo Niemi has written the text included in the installation based on a dialogue with the artist. A second part to the exhibition, Khronos, will be seen at Forum Box, autumn 2017.
This exhibition has been supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.
Niina Vatanen is a visual artist based in Helsinki. She graduated from the department of photography at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 2008. The questions of time and memory, as well as seeing and perception have been central to Vatanen’s work for many years. Recently, Vatanen has been working with archive materials, which has further deepened her interest in these themes.
Niina Vatanen’s debut exhibition The Red Letter (and other confessions) took place at the Photographic Gallery Hippolyte in December 2006. Since then her artworks have been on display in numerous galleries, museums and photo festivals in Finland and abroad, e.g. Germany, France, The Netherlands, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Greece, Russia and South Korea. Last year Vatanen had a comprehensive solo exhibition, Beyond the Visible Surface, at C/O Berlin Foundation in Germany.
Vatanen has published two books in collaboration with a German publishing house Kehrer Verlag: Archive Play (together with Hertta Kiiski) in 2014 and A Room’s Memory/Huoneen muisti in 2013. Her works are included in public collections, such as Saastamoinen Foundation, the Finnish Museum of Photography, the Finnish State Art Collection, and in various private collections in Finland, Germany and France.
Time is a Triangle
Yrjönkatu 8–10 courtyard, 00120 Helsinki, Finland
+358 9 612 33 44, www.hippolyte.fi
Tue–Fri 12–17, Sat–Sun 12–16