Dark Days, White Nights exhibition

June 18-21 2018

beta SPACE, Otakaari 1 X, Espoo

Curators:

Miia Rinne and Minna Suoniemi

Artists:

Andrew Ash, Dina Baumane, Raisa Foster, Pavla Gajdosikova, Maria Huhmarniemi, Korinna Korström-Magga, Kaisu Koski, Maria Letslou, Annamari Manninen, Riikka Notkola, Petra Petileta, Masao Sato, Kim Snepvangers, Hana Svobodová, Seija Ulkuniemi, Petra Vargova

Dark Days, White Nights was an InSEA exhibition, opening a platform for artistic participation in the congress with its emphasis on the dialogue between academic and artistic practice.The exhibition title refers to two thematic schemata. First, in Finland, conditions of light vary widely according to the season. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set around midsummer and does not rise at all during midwinter. Light and the lack oflight define the conditions of human existence to a great extent. Secondly, Dark Days, White Nights refers to the ongoing changes in the world. Coincident with the rise in the number of refugees, right-wing populism has become stronger than ever since World War II. In this way, the title can be taken as a social, psychological and political metaphor. Dark Days, White Nights encourages wide interpretations of the title and a variety of critical artistic approaches. How do we experience light as a condition of life and asan environmental living condition? How does art reflect cultural and political changes locally and globally? In line with the congress themes, the exhibition focuses on cultural diversity, post-humanism and eco-justice.

The work I showed, (see blog Do some Bains have blind spots and Where does empathy reside for Others) was a response to the theme but also a continuation of the work I have been thinking about with regards to Talking Brains.

I made drawings for the beta SPACE gallery at Aalto (that’s all I could get in the suit case) as the experience of talking/presenting and showing makes sense as an artist educator. I came into teaching via the artist in residency and artist in industry route – it was the conversations whilst exhibiting and making that interested me about learning and teaching (not necessarily schooling).

So the work contains pieces partly from recent exhibition on Talking Brains (Kings College gallery Cambridge University) and 3 new drawings in response to the theme ‘Darks Days, White Nights’ where I’ve been thinking about ‘empathy’ and how individually and collectively we understand this and relate to it. I suppose these new pieces consider the internal (personal) and external (as society) response to Other, again linking to the exhibition theme.

I don’t usually show drawings as I tend to make installations, a response to a situation or place – drawings tend to be more about process rather than outcomes but of late I have been thinking differently about the drawings I’ve been making. I still see the sculptural style of drawing I inherited from my early training but they have a intriguing scientific feel to them more recently, almost in terms of a new take on a series of Victorian medical illustrations, the kinds that have been made for the purpose of learning or training – hence more recently I’ve include text, a bit like the historical teaching aids you might have seen in old teaching laboratories. I remember on my travels discovering things like this, particularly in India where I have worked over the last 8 years. I have had the privilege of visiting and working with Indian teachers, in their classrooms with their pupils in northern India. Seeing the teaching aids, non digital formats (I know who would believe that can be done right!), actual objects and prints and drawings, and I suppose they may have been unconsciously impacting on the thinking. There is something about the object rather than the digital that I have been attracted too.

Whilst thinking about blockage, or dark spots in our minds I drew this series of blots in the brain structure located in the region of the cingulate cortex, which some days later I realized once it was dry looked like a football – the brain structure beneath the blot acted as a pattern for the surface of a football, which is timely with the festival of the world cup, all nations coming together, yet all competing and fighting to be on top. This idea of national identity, standing behind a flag, your alignment to a particular place, creating tensions and acting as a blind spot in you consciousness was what I then started to play and think about. So timely, see how we get on with that.

The third drawing on top right - ‘the desire for desires’ quote comes from Tolstoy's definition of boredom - if you look on my blog I have a discussion with myself about my frontal lobe, where perception of time is located and how restlessness is a part of the creative process, zoning out has often been a key part of looking at things differently – on that bomb shell of zoning out, fatigue and boredom, I will stop..

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Andy Ash