Peter Piper Pigged a Pickled Pepper
Jaana-Kriistina Alakoski, Tove Dreiman, India Nielsen and Matti Sumari
'Peter Piper Pigged a Pickled Pepper' takes its title from a well-known and often practiced English tongue twister and gives it an additional twist. Here viewers are invited into a space where surrealist games, magical thinking, dreamscapes, and hallucinations abound. Set within and responding to the everyday realities of modern living, the creatures, objects, and photographs in the exhibition become signifiers and parodies- of themselves and of our own lived experiences. The wistful cats in Alakoski's photographs, the flying bats, aliens, and butterflies of Nielsen's paintings, the doorknobs made of pickles in Sumari's sculptures, and the soft silky sculptural shapes by Dreiman; each serve as vessels into our subconscious imaginations. One thing represents another thing, as Georges Bataille puts it: "The world is purely parodic, in other words, that each thing seen is the parody of another, or is the same thing in a deceptive form."
‘An abandoned shoe, a rotten tooth, a snub nose, the cook spitting in the soup of his masters are to love what a battle flag is to nationality. An umbrella, a sexagenarian, a seminarian, the smell of rotten eggs, the hollow eyes of judges are the roots that nourish love. A dog devouring the stomach of a goose, a drunken vomiting woman, a slobbering accountant, a jar of mustard represents the confusion that serves as the vehicle of love.’ (The Solar Anus, Georges Bataille 1931)
India Nielsen's paintings carry her inner life, memories, and transcriptions of dreamscapes onto canvas. Remixing different periods, with digital and personal references, Nielsen creates otherworldly images that reference digital collage and are carved out of paint, containing autobiographical and pop-cultural elements. The works mirror the flat and compressed way we interact with and consume imagery through digital screens, a medium that is constantly present in her practice and our lives. Every painting holds imagery that serves as an emotional vessel; it responds as the artist pours feelings into the image. For Nielsen, the idea of a viewer processing the paintings over time is crucial. The works seem ethereal on the first glace, but as we spend more time with them, the imagery reveals itself as more familiar, and our reading of them shifts. Here again, things become signifiers and parodies, built-up imagery that mirrors the artist's mental architecture and reveals metaphors that contain many possible readings. From the psychedelic and light-hearted to art historical and pop-cultural, the paintings take us on a quest to balance the subjective with the personal and the universal.
Tove Dreiman's piece 'Pretty as a Picture' references the parody of things with a large floor-based soft sculpture and its smaller, less assuming partner in crime which hangs next to it. The floor piece originated as an automated drawing and now proudly emerges from the page as a four-legged creature in silky fabric, standing on an opulent and dramatic curtain. The two pieces speak to each other, two characters and players in a game where no one is sure who came first. Hastily created automated drawings are often a starting point for Dreiman. The artist later meticulously transfers these into sculptural materials and throughout this process, the artist holds on to a sense of surrealist drama and theatricality. This interest in drama has also led to the artist collaborating with theatre and dance companies. For Dreiman, working with a stage or theatre production means creating spaces in which specific rules and frameworks parody or mirror real-life situations and experiences. While doing this, she repurposes materials from these theatre productions into her works and considers the cyclical nature of objects and creating works from materials which once had a different story to tell.
Jaana-Kriistina Alakoski's digitally edited photographs are loosely inspired by the 'name one thing' meme genre. There is a melancholy longing in these images, moments of closeness and passion that have vanished, leaving a trail of physical remnants behind them. The photographs also carry frantic and chaotic energy. Alakoski is interested in the problematics of late capitalism and our personal experience with the socio-economic precarity that this can cause. Her work explores the lack of time, energy, and assets that are part of the daily grind of trying to make a living while struggling to attain dreams that are a response to that same system. Referencing the theorist Lauren Berlant's 'cruel optimism', the images speak of an "attachment to compromised conditions of possibility." Alakoski does not leave the chaos untouched. Instead, the artist interjects dreamlike hallucinations of playing and dancing creatures. Cats and kittens playfully chase each other while dinosaurs soar over white duvet sheets airing out on a terrace. Through the digital interventions, the still life images become an arena of resistance, born out of the desire to not give up on a vision of a brighter future.