Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila has pioneered a new form of narration and moving image installation in contemporary art. For the first time, one of Ahtila’s video pieces, Horizontal, will be displayed on a giant LED wall measuring almost 50 square metres. This use of LED technology brings out the sculptural aspect of the work. Even connoisseurs of Ahtila’s work will be able to discover a previously unknown aspect of her oeuvre.
Horizontal is the formidable portrait of a single tree, or more precisely, a spruce. The spruce is common in many Scandinavian countries and part of the characteristic natural landscape. By isolating a single tree from the mass, Ahtila ennobles this conifer and assigns it the role of a protagonist. The giant image of the tree is not displayed in its familiar vertical form, however, but horizontally on a 12 metre long video wall consisting of 60 individual LED modules.

Upon closer observation, the work does not just display the image of a tree but also stages the technical apparatus, the carrier material, reflecting its possibilities and limitations. Presented in the big glass hall of the Lehmbruck Museum, which opens to Kant Park with unrivalled transparency, a complete image only emerges from the distance – from outside the museum. Seen from the room itself, the piece dissolves into myriad individual dots of light. Thus Horizontal inimitably unites art, nature and state-of-the-art technology.
Eija-Liisa Ahtila is best known for her large-scale video projections in which she breaks with cinematic convention and re-invents the possibilities of storytelling. With extreme precision she sets new standards for the moving image, exploring the depths and dramas of human nature. In 2000, she received the Vincent Award, followed by international solo exhibitions including at the Tate Modern, London, the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, and the Jeu de Paume, Paris. Eija-Liisa Ahtila lives and works in Helsinki.

The Eija-Liisa Ahtila presentation is part of the series entitled “Sculpture 21st”, in which the Lehmbruck Museum is presenting various positions on 21st century sculpture. Over the next few months, some of the major contemporary sculptors will present their works in the iconic glass hall, undertaking an assessment of the position of sculpture in the 21st century. Beside Eija-Liisa Ahtila, the list of artists includes Tino Sehgal (14.06.14 – 13.07.14), Monika Sosnowska (30.08.14 – 28.09.14), Erwin Wurm (11.10.14 – 9.11.14), and Antony Gormley (22.11.14 – 18.01.15).

Oktober 11 - November 9, 2014
Lehmbruck Museum Duisburg

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Matthew Barney