IC-98, LANDS OF TREASURE, 2021
At the end of September, artist group IC-98’s animation work Lands of Treasure (2021) will be displayed in the 100 m2 exhibition hall of Art Museum Gösta. The black-and-white animation, projected on a large curved wall, addresses humankind’s search for a new direction in an age that resulted in environmental crisis.
Visa Suonpää (b. 1968) and Patrik Söderlund (b. 1974) began their joint artistic work in 1998. The duo’s background includes cultural history studies at the University of Turku, through which they ended up completing their first art project, an intervention commenting on public space entitled Administrative Building. Their cooperation continued with location- and situation-based art projects as well as a series of free-distribution books dealing with, among other things, the experiential space of the urban environment and its alternative narratives.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the artists shifted to a new form of expression. They began making animated works based on pencil drawings, which achieved recognition among the general public. The slowly advancing works have their own rhythm, which draws the viewer’s attention to the change taking place in the image. The presence of time is also an integral part of the animations.
The artists’ work involves strong research and theoretical background work as well as critical social thinking. With the coming of the 2010s, early-period social and institutional critical judgment turned more towards environmental themes and posthumanist thinking. For nearly a decade, many of the works of the artist duo have told of a time when there are no more people.
In the work Lands of Treasure, the artists have embraced a new premise and have given humankind an opportunity. This time, the future of humankind can still be saved, but people must change. Lands of Treasure, which describes the consequences of a natural disaster, deals with the alienation of humankind from nature, but also with the rediscovery of the connection with nature. The animation evokes thoughts about the importance of this connection with nature and its loss.
A background influence on the work is an old story from eastern Finland in which a stonemason encounters a forest spirit. The man kills the giant spirit, which falls and leaves behind a huge forest clearing. The open space makes it easier to take over the area, and surveyors start to divide up the land. The animation begins with an desolate scene in which almost everything has been destroyed. All that remains is the ruins of the forest and mist rising from the ground.
Another literary source that inspired the artists is the Sounds of Nature collection located in the Finnish Folklore Archives. In the old stories, animals spoke and people could still understand their words. An important scene in the animation features the speech of ravens, which humans begin to hear once again. By listening to nature, the connection to it can be rediscovered.
The animation addresses the viewer with its topical message. Humankind must abandon human-oriented obsessions and move towards a way of thinking that respects nature and other organisms. We must take responsibility for our actions, give up our perceived special status and stand alongside other natural entities.This will enable the creation of a new community encompassing all species and the entire planet.
Lands of Treasure will be exhibited from 25 September 2021 to 6 March 2022 and it will be incorporated into the Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation’s collection of contemporary art.
Maria Hirvi-Ijäs, 22 Ways. Artistic Thinking in Finnish Contemporary Art. Helsinki: Parvs, 2014
Hanna Johansson, IC-98 and Far-Off Signs of the Anthropocene Era. In the work: Karvonen, Kirsti (ed.) Ars Fennica 2014. Helsinki: Henna and Pertti Niemistö Fine Arts Foundation Ars Fennica, 2014
Hanna Johansson, The Anthropocene Era and Art History as a Humanistic (Natural)Science. In the work:Johansson & Seppä (eds.) With Art at the End of the World. Helsinki: Parvs, 2021
Interview with the artists 6/2021