“In your spinal cord, there is a dark, blue, and deep lake.”
Johanna Ketola’s exhibition For G, As Ground – A Spring features an installation consisting of two works; The Ground and A Spring. The two works intertwine in the exhibition, with a concerted soundscape created for them. The multi-part work consisting of a moving image, a photograph, and pieces freely placed in the space is built around a 5-part poem written by the artist. The works in the exhibition are part of a wider multimedia artwork For G, as Ground, which has previously included live performances, among other things.
Ketola’s interests, which constitute the works’ background, have been language and matter in its various forms. In The Ground, a combination of words and images signifies the deficiency of language and, on the other hand, reflects the material connection between different objects or bodies. The Ground is based on a personal experience where Ketola witnessed the recovery of a family member from a severe accident—basic functions taken for granted, such as speaking, swallowing, seeing, moving limbs, or understanding the meaning of words, were questioned. In the exhibition, the text and imagery exemplify not only the disintegration of language but also the disintegration—and revival—of bodies.
The experience behind the exhibition is a perception of the material unity of the human body as well as other organic and inorganic bodies. After spending months in sanatoriums, where existence was focused on non-linguistic and more physiological processes, the experience of time around Ketola began to bend and distance itself from more conventional notions. New kinds of material, and time pulses, such as the earth’s geological and hydrological cycles, seemed to come as new temporal measurements. The artwork’s text approaches the sickness of different bodies, such as the earth and the human body, as a single entity.
The work, A Spring, gives a pictorial form to Ketola’s poems and focuses especially on the experience of recovery. The work was done in connection with an artist residency in Paimio’s former sanatorium. However, A Spring does not depict a sanatorium but strives to create a world of its own, which could be located anywhere. Seen in the work are a kind of spoken-word singers who repeat the vocabulary of the poems. The archaic lament tradition’s communal way of dealing with worry physically and through words has also inspired the artwork. In the tradition a conflict is in a way lived through lamenting, singing words.
Johanna Ketola (born 1978) graduated from the Department of Time and Space at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts and from the Department of Photography at the Lahti Institute of Design and studied photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in the Netherlands. Ketola works with the mediums of video, installation, photography, and text.
Musician-producer Petri Alanko created the sound design of the artwork. Anna Pöllänen did the lighting of the exhibition. Jessie Bullivant, Satu Herrala, Sari Hiltunen, Johanna Ketola, Sara Salamäki, Johanna Sipilä, Reetta Sironen and Asiya Wadud perform in the artwork.
The work has been supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Taike, the Kone Foundation and The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture AVEK as well as HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme, the Paimio Sanatorium Foundation, and the Wihuri Foundation in the form of residencies.
The artist would like to thank: Janina Ahlfors, Petri Alanko, A. Andersson, Martin Born, Jessie Bullivant, CaConrad, Satu Herrala, Sari Hiltunen, Tiina Hirvonen, Matti Huttunen, Pilvi Hyväri, Ella-Noora Koikkalainen, Muriel Kuoppala, Raili Kyntäjä, Sirpa Laaksonen, Astri Laitinen, Katja Lautamatti, Kristina Marenk, Silja Mäki, Jaakko Pallasvuo, Mika Palonen, Eleonora Pecoraro, Johanna Sipilä, Reetta Sironen, Guido van der Werve, and Asiya Wadud as well as Monitoimitila O.
For G, As Ground – A Spring
28 October–20 November 2022
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Image: Johanna Ketola, A Spring, video still, 2022