TATU TUOMINEN: Death in All Fields

TATU TUOMINEN: Death in All Fields




06:18 – 06:18


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Death in All Fields fills Gallery G with imagery of death from the 17th century. What can historical prints tell us in this time of war and eco-catastrophe? For his exhibition visual artist Tatu Tuominen reproduced and printed four-hundred-year-old etchings from the online collections of museums. The viewer can see the works as prints on a study room table, as framed artwork on the gallery wall, and as thumbnails in a web browser.

Four hundred years ago, the only way to distribute visual information was to print an image. Text and printed images dominated dissemination of knowledge for half a millennium. In this sense, the current way of viewing images mainly on a screen is very recent.

For a few years, visual artist Tatu Tuominen has been browsing historical prints in the open digital collections of international museums. He noticed that the pictures of the ruins of the civilization, ancient corpse, angry crowds and the burnt landscape were intriguing. The works in the collection have a twofold approach to these subjects: straightforwardly displaying twisted bodies and skulls and through mythological themes, metaphors and humor.

Tuominen limited his focus specifically to the imagery of death. He entered the keyword ”death” on the search engine of the collections and limited the search to etchings from the 17th century. When browsing the search results, the thumbnail pictures following each other seemed to form a story. The search function of the collections was like a strange anachronistic machine that was able to assemble a macabre narrative from the works in the archive. In the end, Tuominen selected three pictures from the hundreds of images, which served as the starting point for the works shown in the exhibition. The prints on display are exact reproductions made on the basis of the digital photographs of the originals: Tuominen drew the lines and dots of the images as vector graphics, which were traced with a computer-aided plotter onto a copper plate, from which they were printed on paper. The artistic process continued: The artist reshaped the structure of the images and cut and pasted the prints into collages.

Last summer, Tuominen visited Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg and inquired if they could find the original prints that he was working with in their collections. Surprisingly, all three original prints were brought before him in the study room of the Kunsthalle. This viewing experience was significantly different. One could actually hold the prints encased in passepartout. The works were amazingly small, fragile-looking yellowish slips of paper. They had a musty smell. Despite this, the small prints in the study room were impressive, as they seemed to speak directly from the past. The installation in the front room of the exhibition at Galleria G is inspired by that experience. It includes a 100-year-old portfolio box from the Hamburger Kunsthalle.

Reproducing, modifying and presenting historical images in the context of today transforms narratives of the past. The topographical layering of found images, processes, printing papers, frames and even the gallery walls in the exhibition questions familiar ways of viewing artwork. The works in the exhibition invite the viewer to contemplate how the prints on display compare to today’s flow of shocking images on our screens – and also how can death be portrayed in an

Tatu Tuominen (b. 1975) lives and works in Helsinki. His work deals with the relationship between printed image and memory. Tuominen received his Master’s degree in fine arts from The Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki in 2006 and works there now as the lecturer in printmaking. His work has been featured in 16 solo exhibitions and more than 50 group exhibitions in twelve different countries. Tuominen’s works have been exhibited, among others, at the Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma, MOCA Shanghai, the Finnish institute in Stockholm, Forum Box, SIC Gallery and the art museums of Pori, Jyväskylä, Lahti, Lapua and Rovaniemi. In recent years, Tuominen has also carried out several commissioned public artworks in the cities of Helsinki and Lahti.

The exhibition has been supported by The Finnish Cultural Foundation’s Ilta and Pentti Kaskipuro Fund.

Wed 04 Jan 2023 – 29 Jan 2023 Closed today


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Pieni Roobertinkatu 10,
00130 Helsinki