Mika Taanila: Film Reader

ARS NOVA
25.11.22−2.4.23

Mika Taanila (b. 1965 Helsinki) is an artist and filmmaker based in Helsinki. The ingredients of Taanila’s works are found footage, movies, products of popular culture, technology, and art. Taanila creates artworks by recycling, assembling, editing, and mixing archive material and combining different sources into a new form. The result is insightful conceptual art, experimental film, deep-diving media archaeology and cinephile’s passion for cinema.

Taanila mediates between established art forms. The works are a sum of multiple authors and parts. Analog and digital, readymade, and handmade, method and coincidence, own and borrowed get mixed up in the resulting works. By cropping elements or removing them altogether, the paradigms of time, movement and light are filtered.

The exhibition is cross-section to the diverse artworks of Taanila. There are analog film and digital video installations, such as Man and Science (2011), which is compiled from a movie reel with only subtitles that Taanila found in the dustbin. My Silence (2013) is a structuralist editing experiment , where Taanila removed all the dialogues from the classic movie My Dinner with André (1981).

Two video works have been worked in collaboration with author Harry Salmenniemi. The premise of Failed Emptiness series (2021) to cinematically depict emptiness. Failed Emptiness. Place is shot with a thermal camera at the construction site in Kruunuvuorenranta. Failed Emptiness. Time is created with video editing software’s transitional effects.

Already familiar photograms are included. Photograms are photos made without a camera. In addition to Black and White Movies (2013) series that represents violently destroyed film recordings, there are new photograms and lumen prints exhibited. In Interiors (2021), film equipment is moved around on top a light sensitive paper. In Exteriors (2021) the lumen prints are the result of exposures that lasted for hours.

One body of work is ready-made objects that refer to movies and film. Film Reader (2017), a wide selection of modified books is put on display together with a new film work, Maltese Cross (2022). Also, a video work Verbranntes Land (2002) is a sort of ready-made film made with a of degradation of  VHS tape.

A changing repertoire of Taanila’s film work is screened in Takkahuone (room with a fireplace). This year (26.11.-31.1.2022) a masterpiece of Finnish experimental film Tectonic Plate (2016) is shown together with Physical Ring (2002) that is a kinetic film based on physical experiment from the 1940s. Next year (1.2.-2.4.2023) the program consists of a documentary of visionary Erkki Kurenniemi (1941-2017) called The Future Is Not What It Used To Be (2002) and The World (2017) that is an experimental edit from the dystopic film The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) directed by Nicolas Roeg.

Taanila’s works have been exhibited i.a. Venice Biennial (2017), Aichi Triennial (2017), Kassel Documenta (2012) and several other international and Finnish exhibitions. His latest solo exhibitions have been held at Galerie Anhava in Helsinki (2021), Padiglione de l´Esprit Nouveau in Bologna (2020) and STUK House for Dance, Image, and Sound in Leuven (2018). In museums his workd have been previously exhibited in Hämeenlinna (Blackout, 2015-2016) and Kiasma (Time Machines, 2013-2014).

Documentaries and short films directed by Taanila have been screened in film festivals around the world. In 2015 Taanila won the Ars Fennica award.