When it comes to photography, the topic of absence is often discussed, as the things depicted in the image have already changed by the time. But what happens when the photograph itself is absent? Tatu Gustafsson’s exhibition at Hippolyte Studios explores the interface between photography and text, the translation of the visual into the verbal, which the photograph seems to stubbornly resist.
Within the artistic context, the exhibition’s title kuva picture tableau functions as a general concept that encompasses various visual meanings, ranging from photographs to mental images, and prompts one to imagine something. As the use of AI programmes to generate images based on user instructions becomes more common, the act of creating an image has also extended into the realm of text. However, Gustafsson has chosen not to realise the artwork as a concrete image; instead, it takes place within the listener’s imagination.
Hippolyte Studio is empty, except for a single spotlight. In the space, Natalie describes a photograph. Natalie is the name given to one of the voices of a text-to-speech programme. It seems to hover somewhere between text and speech, as Ada doesn’t read, even though the voice is based on a real person. It is a blend of the machine and the person who provided their voice to the machine.
The possibilities of a work happening in text felt limitless to Gustafsson, as it is not bound by the constraints of materials or the requirements of physical spaces. However, describing the artwork offered an unexpected grasp to reality, and the elements began to be found nearby rather than far away—at home, with family, and in familiar spaces. Gustafsson ponders whether the artwork, kuva picture tableau, allows the listener to discover something more as a form of artistic creation in the photograph or if it lacks all the elements that make a photograph interesting. Perhaps through the artwork, one can still hold on to the qualities of a photograph that make it a unique medium.
Tatu Gustafsson (b. 1979, Salo) works with various mediums, including weather cameras, borrowed objects, and concepts. The starting points of his works often involve exploring technologies, common assumptions, and hierarchical relationships. Lately, Gustafsson has been particularly interested in unfolding an artwork at the textual level. Gustafsson completed his Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Turku Art Academy’s Photography Department in 2012, and his MFA at Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts in the department of time and space in 2015. He has previously held exhibitions at venues such as Huuto Gallery, Titanik Gallery, Mältinranta Studio, and Myymälä2 Gallery.
kuva picture tableau is an audio artwork that can be listened to not only in the gallery but also through a podcast programs.
The artist’s work has been supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike), The Arts Council of Varsinais-Suomi.
kuva picture tableau
4–27 August 2023