HENNA POHJOLAThe Hidden Truth

Mother - Portrait of Liu Jirong, 2016
pencil on paper
229 x 149 cm

My exhibition is based on my research about the background of the Falun Gong persecution initiated in 1999 by the Chinese Communist Party.

Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa) is a traditional Chinese spiritual practice of the mind and the body. It was first taught publicly by Li Hongzhi in 1992, and today it is practiced in about a hundred countries. The practice is free of charge and involves no religious formalities, worshipping or hierarchy. The essential part of the practice is to improve one´s thoughts and character by following three principles: Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance (in Chinese, Zhēn-Shàn-Rěn). In addition to its moral teachings, Falun Gong consists of four slow standing exercises and one sitting meditation.

Although the practice initially enjoyed considerable support from Chinese officialdom, soon after the mid-1990s the Communist Party started to view Falun Gong as a potential threat. This was due to its independence from the state and the huge number of its practitioners: by 1999, there were more than 70 million Falun Gong practitioners. On 30 November 1999, President Jiang Zemin gave the Chinese officialdom orders to destroy Falun Gong. The persecution has now lasted for 18 years, and millions of Chinese Falun Gong practitioners have been subject to human rights abuses.

The exhibition has seven large portrait drawings of Falun Gong practitioners living in Finland. In these portraits, I wanted to bring out their most essential characteristics by adding to them elements that work as distinctive signs leading the viewer's attention to the subjects´ personalities, thoughts and lives. In my works, I have analysed the significance of iconoclasm in the portrait genre: how a portrait can be such a strong symbol of a person´s status that its display is banned. My drawings contain references to the history of portrait art, such as human and spatial portraits of the Renaissance. They also contain text, which was already done in the 17th century portraits. The texts depict the practitioners' experiences of persecution.

In my works, I also analyse the destruction of traditional values and cultures, and in particular the ethical value questions of the Zhēn-Shàn-Rěn art and the approach that emphasises professional virtuosity and aesthetic goals. I have created the portraits with respect for the practitioners´ set of values.

In the background of my art is my human rights work with my partner Heikki Reponen to stop Falun Gong persecution in China. One of the narrative elements in the exhibition is his series of documentary photos about human rights work.

As another part of the exhibition I selected a documentary film called Human Harvest by the Vancouver-based filmmaker Leon Lee. Unfolding the story of Falun Gong persecution and forced organ donor transplants, the documentary has won several awards, such as the Peabody Award in 2014.

Henna Pohjola

 
  • pohjola/2017/Henna_Pohjola_Heshi_Liu_Yumein_muotokuva_2017_web

    Heshi - Portrait of Liu Yumei, 2017
    pencil and pastel on paper
    249 x 144 cm

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    Heshi - Portrait of Liu Yumei, detail, 2017
    pencil and pastel on paper
    249 x 144 cm

  • pohjola/2017/Henna_Pohjola_Heshi_Liu_Yumein_muotokuva_2017_detalji_1_web

    Heshi - Portrait of Liu Yumei, detail, 2017
    pencil and pastel on paper
    249 x 144 cm

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    Heshi - Portrait of Liu Yumei, detail, 2017
    pencil and pastel on paper
    249 x 144 cm

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    Reunion - Portrait of Zhiping Wu and Luoxin Zhu, 2016-17
    pencil and coal on paper
    242 x 145 cm

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    Free, Portrait of Shi Janni, 2017
    pencil on paper
    247 x 146 cm

  • pohjola/2017/Henna_pohjola_uusi_James-Shi

    Falun Standing Stance, Portrait of Shi James, 2017
    pencil on papaer
    249 x 144 cm

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    Second Homeland - Portrait of Wang Jie, Gao Lei and Gao Xinhui Kristiina, 2017
    pencil and pastel colour on paper
    236 x 149 cm

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    Shansuihua - Portrait of Oli Xiaoyou Ma, 2017
    pencil, coal, pastel colour and gesso on paper
    231 x 148 cm

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    Detail, 2017

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    Shansuihua - Portrait of Oli Xiaoyou Ma, 2017
    pencil, coal, pastel colour and gesso on paper
    231 x 148 cm

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    The Hidden Truth, 2017
    installation view

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    The Hidden Truth, 2017
    Installation view

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    The Hidden Truth, 2017
    Installation view

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    The Hidden Truth, 2017
    Installation view

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    The Hidden Truth, 2017
    Installation view

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    Heikki Reponen: With respect to the memory of the victims of the persecution of Falun Gong, 2017
    Henna Pohjola, Zhiping Wu & Luoxin Zhu, Liu Jirong, Shi Janni & James, Liu Yumei, Wang Jie & Gao Lei, Gao Xinhui Kristiina

  • pohjola/2017/Heikki_Reponen_James_ja_Henna

    Heikki Reponen: Shi James and Henna Pohjola in Helsinki, 2017
    41 x 51 cm

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    Heikki Reponen:World Village Festival,Zhaohuan Jin (left), Zhaoyu Jin, Chen Zhenping, Henna Pohjola and Elias Outakivi, 2016
    41 x 51 cm

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    Heikki Reponen: Group meditation in New York, 2015
    41 x 51 cm

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    Installation view, 2017
    Leon Lee: Human Harvest (2014)

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    installation view, 2017
    Leon Lee: Human Harvest (2014)

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    The Hidden Truth, 2017
    Leon Lee: Human Harvest (2014)

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    Installation view, 2017
    Leon Lee: Human Harvest (2014)

 
 
 
 
 
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