In Marko Karo’s exhibition, entitled Sea Change, the current moment opens up for reflection from the viewpoint of an imagined future. Drawing from elements of both documentary and science-fiction, the exhibition’s eponymous video work examines the fragile and illusory nature of even the most fundamental structures underpinning our societies. In the work, the viewer encounters a strangely familiar underwater world—forests petrified to the seabed, endless rows of brick walls and buildings eroded into heaps of stone betray a ruined prison, the disciplinary structure of a culture lost in time. What kind of society lies behind these remains?
What is mostly considered as an unquestionable part of our societal system, the punitive regime, is shown in the work as an object of entropy, a future fossil signalling a challenge to human-centred conceptions of time as well as to notions of communities based on exclusion. In recent years, Marko Karo has developed his practice towards speculative visual archaeology, seeking to shed light on marginal histories and possible and alternative futures. Karo’s methodology serves as a vehicle for inquiring about the visuality and temporality of violence and the forces impacting our ways of being together.
Referring to a significant change of direction, an essential turning point, the exhibition’s title is open for diverse interpretations. The narrator of Karo’s video work provides subtle clues about a single fundamental event on the one hand, but also about a structural transition or rethinking on the other. The exhibition continues with thematics of entangled points of time—an area of interest in much of Karo’s work. Such ideas are present in his previous Hippolyte exhibition (Book of Stains, 31.10.-23.11.2014), where he brought two photographic worlds separated by a century within touching distance of each other—this time, the stage is set for meeting the current moment and a non-human future.
Marko Karo is a Helsinki-based visual artist whose lens-based work engages with conflictual sites of various kinds: historical accounts, human/non-human boundaries, geopolitical contexts, and juridical apparatuses. He has studied photography at the University of Arts and Design (now Aalto University), law at the University of Turku and critical theory at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has also acted as a curator and held teaching positions at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, et al. Marko Karo’s works have been exhibited in several exhibitions in Finland and abroad. Most recently, his work was in the group exhibition Objection – Stories of dissent, at the Helsinki City Museum in 2019. Currently, he is examining sites and operations of systemic violence in a three-year project funded by the Kone Foundation.
29 October – 21 November 2021
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
image: Marko Karo, still from Sea Change, 2021