Jenni Toikka’s and Jan Ijäs’ short films compete at IndieLisboa

Jenni Toikka’s Prelude Op. 28 No. 2 (2022) and Jan Ijäs’ House of the Wickedest Man in the World (2023) were selected for the Silvestre Competition of IndieLisboa, held from April 27 – May 7 2023 in Portugal.

In Prelude Op. 28 No. 2, during a single long shot, we see two people taking turns playing the piano and listening alternately. The piece is the same on both times – Prelude Op. 28 No. 2 by Chopin – but when the performer changes, the interpretation of the song changes along with the perspective from which the song and its performance are viewed. The uninterrupted playing and single shot capture the event in one temporal moment, but as the camera moves and two people change places, time is equally layered. The performer becomes the listener and the listener becomes the performer. In one of the key scenes of Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata (1978), the mother and daughter take turns playing the very same Chopin’s Prelude. It is a piece that both are familiar with, so they are able to settle into the position of the other as they listen and watch the other play. A situation like this raises questions about the sense of reciprocity, simultaneity and synaesthesia. Could the roles become mixed from viewer and listener to the object of the gaze and listening? When watching the other playing, can you feel your own hands and fingers on the keys? 

Jenni Toikka (b. 1983) is a Helsinki-based visual artist working predominantly with moving images. Toikka graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki in 2012. She has had several solo exhibitions in Helsinki including at Sinne, Forum Box and Kluuvi Gallery. In autumn 2019, her work was shown in the solo exhibition Reel at HAM – Helsinki Art Museum. Jenni Toikka’s video pieces have been seen internationally in group exhibitions and at festivals. Her work is represented in the collections of the Saastamoinen Foundation, Espoo Modern Art museum EMMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.

Jan Ijäs: House of the Wickedest Man in the World (2023)

House of the Wickedest Man in the World is the story of a ruined building near the city of Cefalú in Sicily. In the early 1920s, Aleister Crowley, the most famous occultist of his time, lived in the building, practicing magical rituals, and using hard drugs to heighten their intensity. Crowley also painted frescoes on the rituals of the Abbey of Thelema in his temple in the style of Paul Gauguin, whom he admired. Benito Mussolini expelled Crowley from the country in 1923. The frescoes were whitewashed, and the house was sealed. In the summer of 1955, experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger found the building, got permission to open the seals, and turned it into a residence as a researcher. Anger cleaned a large part of the house’s walls from the whitewash and was planning to shoot a film about Crowley’s frescoes and time in Cefalú. The Thelema Abbey film was never released. Nowadays, the building is deserted and is located next to the city’s football stadium. The building has been allowed to disrepair because it is still believed that “evil forces” stayed in it.

House of the Wickedest Man in the World is distributed in collaboration with AV-arkki – Centre for Finnish Media Art and Raina Film Festival Distribution.

Media artist and film director Jan Ijäs (b. 1975) studied documentary film making at the Department of Film, Television and Scenography at the Aalto University in Helsinki. His work can be described as a blend of avant garde, experimental media art and documentary film making. His films have been screened at more than 200 Finnish and international film festivals and as installations in museums and art galleries. He has won numerous awards, including the Finnish Risto Jarva Prize in 2011 for SWEET MOV(I)E, Raft of the Médusa, film about immigration won Amnesty International Award 2018 at the IndieLisboa film festival in Portugal.

IndieLisboa, April 27 – May 7 2023, Portugal

More information: IndieLisboa

AV-arkki has promoted and distributed Finnish media art since 1989. AV-arkki’s promotional efforts have made the artists’ participation in this event possible.