Pieces of Sky
The idea behind Serlachius Museums Art Sauna and its surroundings has been to create a place where one may encounter contemporary art. The body of works consists of eleven works selected from seven contemporary artists. One of them is Laura Könönen’s No Heaven up in the Sky (Joenniemi)(2022), is in sauna’s yard.
Is there, after all, a firmament around the Earth that can break? Are scientific facts about the Earth and the structure of space a hoax? Sculptor Laura Könönen (b. 1980) has played with these associations when creating her sculpture, No heaven Up in the Sky (Joenniemi). The work consists of four boulders, partly painted blue. The fragments depict pieces of shell falling from the sky. One is in front of the sauna and three similar ones can be found in the lawn area of the backyard of the sauna.
Könönen’s sculptures have been made of stone, more precisely Korpilahti black diorite. The choice of material refers to eternity. Stone is perceived as eternal, as is heaven. The boulders are curved on one surface and these smooth surfaces are painted in azure tones. When you look at the stone fragments, the eye automatically starts putting them together like a puzzle. The pieces are, however, much more robust than the puzzle. They cannot be moved by hand.
According to the artist, the work’s one source of inspiration is the final scene of the 1998-film The Truman Show. At the end of the story, the protagonist discovers that he has been living in a staged world: instead of heaven, there is merely an artificial shell behind which the real world extends. Könönen’s series of sculptures also prompts the viewer to think about their own existence. Is everything around us true or are there some other truths as well?
I saw Laura Könönen’s fragments of sky for the first time in 2021 at the Helsinki Biennial contemporary art event on Vallisaari, Helsinki. The work, consisting of eight boulders, rested in its own square protected by a defensive wall called Aleksanterinpatteri. The blue-painted stones shone in the bright early summer sunshine. At present, the work made for the Biennial, No Heaven up in the Sky (2021), has its permanent location in Hyväntoivopuisto Park in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki. The artist’s wish is that she would be able to continue making the series around the globe, and throw one piece far into space, as well.
The Art Sauna was completed in 2022 behind the pavilion of Serlachius Museum Gösta, right close to Lake Melasjärvi. The glowing blue lake surface, the sky and Laura Könönen’s group of sculptures form a coherent scene. Together they implement the basic idea of the Art Sauna plan, where architecture, nature and artworks are in dialogue with each other.
Helsinki Biennial podcast, sequence 8, Laura Könönen: Pohdin töissäni ihmisen peruskaihoa ja elämän absurdiutta, [In my work, I reflect basic human longing and absurdity of life] HAM, May 2021
Sivonen, Pauli & Viherkoski, Päivi (edition). Art Sauna. Parvs, Helsinki 2023.