Rita Jokiranta’s new video installation At the Water’s Edges (2020) shows momentary views of New York City’s coastline disappearing under troubled waves. The work is a result of a three-year-long project that focuses on the relation between climate change and a big city. The multichannel installation challenges the viewer with its presentation playing with visibility and power of seeing.
Recent research shows that big cities are places where climate emergencies, such as rising sea levels, will hit first. Paradoxically, they are also catalysts of accelerated global warming with their emissions. The work employs New York City as an example—due to its long shoreline and surrounding shallow waters, the city is very vulnerable to storms and flooding.
Climate change is difficult to visualize; that’s only possible by looking at factors causing it. The installation fills Photographic Gallery Hippolyte’s main space with urban views combined with waters and glimpses of life in the coastal areas. The images may reflect, in part, the rising seas or previous disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, but also depict everyday activities without climate concerns. The structure of the work is episodic without a linear narrative. Jokiranta has preferred to avoid a documentary or journalistic approach, yet she has utilized scientific material, books, and newspaper articles to support her work.
The videos for the work were filmed 2017-2019 on location in selected areas in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx in New York City which are in significant risk for flooding during the next decades, and which the artist has been able to reach by foot, train, bus or ferry. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic during the closing phase of the project affected the final work. Though the views now might look different, the climate crisis still exists and should not be forgotten.
Rita Jokiranta is a visual artist who mainly works with moving images and photography. In recent years, she has mostly focused on experimental multichannel-video installations. Her work has been shown in numerous solo and group shows, screening events, film festivals and other contemporary art exhibitions in Finland, the Nordic countries and widely elsewhere in Europe and the U.S. Her latest solo exhibitions were shown at Gallery Huuto in Helsinki (In the Minds of Others, 2018; Life as It Flees, 2017) and at the Åland Art Museum (It Is Too Late (to Dance), 2019). www.ritajokiranta.com
The exhibition is supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. The artist’s work has been supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, the Arts Promotion Centre Finland/The Board for Public Display Grants to Visual Artists, and the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York.
The technical solutions of the exhibition are provided by Jorma Saarikko/Pro AV Art Oy.
At the Water’s Edges
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Open: Tue-Fri 12-17, Sat-Sun 12-16
image: Rita Jokiranta, still-image from work At the Water’s Edges, 2020