Helinä Hukkataival’s exhibition Barbie and I draw the audience to consider the imagery of a woman, the artist herself, holding a Barbie doll in her hands. Instead of doll play, Hukkataival explores the feelings and thoughts of an older woman, and the unchanging ideal of youth and beauty the Barbie doll might evoke.
The series of photographic performances, on display at Hippolyte Studio, were shot in Rome, at the Nordic residence of Circolo Scandinavo, where a special kind of light and space inspired her to try something new. An ageing woman and a Barbie doll engage in an intense dialogue in both the video work Inner Beauty 2 and in the displayed photographs. For Hukkataival, the performative image serves as a starting point for a story that the viewer is free to construct. Hukkataival has never played with Barbie dolls, and such had never existed in her childhood. Later, the artist’s son was not enthusiastic about dolls, and she would hardly have acquired what she considered an “ugly” and “disproportionate” doll for her son.
Through performance, Hukkataival has found her own perspective to deal with obsessions over eternal youth. Hukkataival participated in the Venezia Live 2017 performance festival with her performance Flashing Barbie, where she flashed a naked Barbie hanging around her neck on a busy street. Passersby mostly reacted with a surprisingly amused response. Both the performance and the invitation to the exhibition Stretching Time (Museo del Metro, Mexico City 2019), related to age and ageing, led to the birth of her video work Inner Beauty.
Helinä Hukkataival has worked as a visual artist since 1969 and at the same time as a visual arts teacher until 2001. In Hukkataival’s work, the personal is political. Her works often look for universalised phenomena through personal experiences. The artist makes visible small events, subtle tones, and relationships that affect us, even if unnoticed. Hukkataival has studied at the School of Art and Design in Helsinki and the Department of Art and Communication at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. Her works have been seen in exhibitions and festivals in Finland and abroad. Since 1990, Hukkataival focussed mainly on performance art. Since 2002, she has also worked with videos and since 2011 with photographs. In 2004, she was awarded The Finnish State Prize for Visual Arts.
The Arts Promotion Centre Finland kindly supports the exhibition.
Barbie and I
Open: Tue-Fri 12-17, Sat-Sun 12-16
image: Helinä Hukkataival, Ornamenttipeitto, 2018
exhibition images: Milla Talassalo