Sirpa Päivinen’s video installation at Hippolyte Studio is a personal exploration of family history. It tackles the substance of memory and constructs portraiture between truth and falsehood, facts and fabulations. With an ensemble of fragmentary elements, the artist builds the image of an absent father. It involves experiences, dreams, and stories that face a partly factual, partly mysterious reality to both the viewer and author alike. The exhibition’s title comes from a story in which the artist’s father, during his short religious phase, was employed as a professional fainter in Christian revival meetings.
Sirpa Päivinen met her father for the first time after graduating high school. Guided by a business card, nestled between a greeting card, she finally introduced herself to a stranger behind a meat counter in a convenience store. The slow and awkward process of acquaintance opened new questions to which the artist has sought answers from her childhood memories, her father’s written memoirs, and photo albums. The material used in the work includes various things found and kept, including gifts from trips to Vietnam, copper plates engraved in prison, and banknotes of ten Finnish marks received as gifts.
“My father’s character is encircled by many kinds of stories. As a child I imagined him as an alcoholic who poisoned young children, a mail thief, a rich Mercedes Benz motorist, a womaniser, and kind of a con artist“, Päivinen describes. Such a character who remains in the cross-sea of subjective experiences, is certainly familiar to many who wish to explore a complex family background. Päivinen’s work observes the layers of human life. Yet, with intimate stories from a personal point of view, she simultaneously speaks of more general notions about remembering and the desire to understand.
Sirpa Päivinen is a visual artist from Helsinki who works through photography, moving images, and installation. At the heart of her work is the Western way of life, the fragility of which she attempts to make visible, e.g. by satire. Lately, she has utilised robotics, video surveillance, and home appliances in her works. Sirpa Päivinen studied photographic art at the University of Art and Design, and Aalto University. Päivinen has exhibited in Finland and abroad, and her works are included in the Finnish State Art Collection. Since 2016, Sirpa Päivinen has been part of Artist Collective Kunst, which implements interdisciplinary exhibitions, events, and performative interventions. Most recently, Päivinen’s works were shown at the Poriginal Gallery in Pori, June 2021.
The artist’s work has been supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Jokes (Foundation for the Promotion of Journalistic Culture).
26 November – 19 December 2021
image: from Raimo Päivinen’s photo album