AV-arkki has acquired several moving image works by Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl and Elina Brotherus

AV-arkki has acquired several moving image works by Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl and Elina Brotherus in the distribution archive. Together, they offer two different approaches to the union of performance art and moving image.

Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl – Meditations on time, movement, and the body

Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl: Pflaster/Haut (1978)

Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl was born in Imatra, Finland and currently lives and works in Cologne, Germany. Kytösalmi-Buhl is a pioneer of Finnish video art, whose work in the 1970s and 1980s can be considered as the beginning of the Finnish video art. The artist has studied in the Düsseldorf Art Academy in Germany under the guidance of famous pioneers artists such as Nam June Paik. In her resent works, she has used photography, object collages and crocheting. Her works can be found in the collections of e.g. the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki. The body of her moving image work in our archive consists of a dozen videos or documentations accomplished between 1978 and 1984.

The curator Perttu Rastas states:

”Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl is one of the earliest pioneers of the Finnish video art. Some of her video performances are documentations, some are made for camera. They look at a woman quietly, observing, but also in a self-assertive and confident manner. They utilize minimalist movement and space, often with a tight and deep framing to the face or eyes. Simple repetition and mechanical movement reinforce the interpretation that urges the viewer either to accept or reject the works. Video performance is intentionally framed theatre or moving image. In her works, Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl continued the visual emphasis on small movements initiated by Joan Jonas. 

We can look at these early video works now as historical documents. But compared to their contemporaries, often already forgotten works, we can hopefully highlight their personal boldness and open-mindedness.”

You can read more about Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl’s artistic practice in her own words from the recent interview in our Meet the Artist series.

Elina Brotherus – The liberating rules of the game

Elina Brotherus: Passing Music for a Tree (2018)

AV-arkki is working on a vast update on Elina Brotherus’s moving image works in our archive. In the first phase, we published a set of videos from the series Règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game), originally produced for Brotherus’s Carte Blanche PMU Prize solo exhibition in Centre Pompidou in 2017. The series consists of playful reconstructions of various “event scores”, most of them attached to the performances and happenings around Fluxus avant-garde movement.

In an interview for our screening “15 règles du jeu” at Helsinki International Film Festival – Love & Anarchy, Brotherus talked about her fascination towards the 1960s and the 1970s art movements:

”In the 1960s and the 1970s there were more and more female artists. Some decades earlier, surrealism was a somewhat masculine movement, like art in general, but the 1970s marked the venue of female emancipation and feminism, one of its first waves. It was delightful to find Japanese female Fluxus artists, for instance. Everyone knows Yoko Ono, of course, but I want to bring forth Shigeko Kubota and Mieko Shiomi, who is one of my super favorites.”

Brotherus selected, planned and produced the event scores with artist and choreographer Vera Nevanlinna while most of the soundtracks consist of piano improvisations by Antti Ikonen. The trio was inspired by the combination of rules and “chance operator”:

”I come up with ideas always when I’m given assignments. I enjoyed enormously my studies in the Fine Arts Academy in the 1990s, and now, with this works, I could create an entirely new art school for myself and by myself: I chose the teachers and the exercises that I went through. Vera said, that instructions enable creativity without the need to be innovative! There are million different ways of doing a given detail but the limitations however leave space for being creative and focused. Maybe this relates to my past as a natural scientist; I hold a master’s degree in analytical chemistry. It is possible that I enjoy analyzing these problems and coming up with some interesting solution that follows some obscure logic.”

Elina Brotherus: Brushing Teeth (2017)

(the whole interview can be found here, in Finnish)

Featured image: Mervi Kytösalmi-Buhl: Trip (1982)