Gallery Katariina presents Merja Heino’s exhibition About Animals and Organisms 18 August – 10 September, 2023.
Welcome to the exhibition opening on Thursday, 17 August 5–8pm!
The opening is part of the Night of the Arts program.
Image: Merja Heino: Indian Style, 42 x 58 cm, 2023
Merja Heino: About Animals and Organisms
The Animal Farm photo series, completed in 2022–23, deals with the (exploitation) relationship between humans and animals, and it also touches on issues of climate change and biodiversity loss.
The first part of the series was on display at the 2022 Stockholm Supermarket Independent Art Fair in the artists’ section of the Ars Longa artists’ house, which Merja Heino had curated.
The photos are ostensibly cute with their beautiful, colourful plants and flowers. However, at the same time there is something wrong with them – all the animals are in the wrong environments, and the images are pure fantasy. This contradiction is not directly noticeable because we are used to seeing and meeting animals presented in a context that involves exploitation and denial of their intrinsic value. None of these animals lived in their natural or species-typical environment. All of them existed only for human amusement or nutrition.
Heino tells more about her works:
”I make the images by combining animals, plants and buildings from different photographs in the same frame, mixing scales. I have taken the pictures used in the works over ten years in zoos, animal farms, animal markets and botanicals, etc. gardens in Finland and around Europe, as well as in Britain, for example. The oldest of the pictures, Ghastly beast, has been the starting point for the series, I shot it already in 2010 in Gambia.
Gallery Katariina’s exhibition space is dominated by the sculpture installation Uninvited Guest. The work visualises the presence of threats that shock our sense of security. It originated with thoughts about the pandemic in the summer of 2021, but I’ve also vented the frustration and anxiety caused by other nuisances – such as climate change and bad politicians.
Uninvited Guest consists of a building-shaped space – a symbol of home and safety – invaded by strange little guests/viruses. Trunks and pieces of branches grow visible from under the floor. They gradually break down the building, spreading to the environment. In places, they are teeming with small, lively, dangerous creatures that cannot be escaped. Nature takes revenge.”
The Arts Promotion Centre Finland has been supporting the production of Merja Heino’s works.