HENNA POHJOLA20 Days 31.12.2003 – 18.1.2004
These days, media hold the keys to the kingdom. People hanker for fame because only media attention can truly affirm their existence. How they have lived their lives makes no difference; their market value is determined by how they look in the spotlight.
|I started my exhibition project by contacting people in the public eye and telling them about my idea of using them as examples to study the nature of celebrity. We talked, I took pictures of them, they modelled for me and I reviewed the material produced about them in the media. They gave me permission to use artistic licence when depicting them in my work. All of this enabled me to bring out in my work exactly those points that I wished to make.|
My works examine how these people see themselves, how the public eye sees them and how I see them. The final work incorporates all three levels of perception. It remains up to the viewer to decide which parts of the work are inherent to the model´s own identity and personality, which parts have been created by fame and which demonstrate the artist´s views. I want to raise the question of truthfulness v. falsehood. In one of the drawings, I have portrayed myself as the embodiment of the female form as represented by the ideals of modern-day media and fashion catalogues.
The name of the exhibition, 20 DAYS, is a strong indicator of the statement Henna Pohjola has wished to make. She uses familiar faces to describe the effect of the media on human identity. A mental association with the tabloid press is inevitable. This exhibition only remains open for 20 days - likewise, in the media, news only remain news for a fleeting moment, seldom even for those 20 days. Tragedy, revolution, natural disaster and human suffering impact only briefly on us, for as quickly as we change the channel, equally quickly we lose all interest in what we encountered only moments ago - not to mention the fates of individuals.
Nonetheless, if the media are responsible for giving meaning to our lives, what can we control any longer? The flood of images has a strong impact on self-image. When behaviour, appearance and the difference between right and wrong are all dictated from outside, do we have any true choice as to who we wish to be? The imaginary world allows for a wide range of roles and selves, but does it leave any room for humanity and personality? Can we choose the right self from the many alternatives open to us? Can I still recognise myself?
Even our emotional landscape is affected by what we see. Our capacity to feel is constricted and diminished as we try to live not according to our own emotions but according to internalised role models. Thus the media invade our social relationships, which the media tell us can be enlivened with casual sex and carefree break-ups. Still, it´s difficult to embark on yet another adventure when your heart has been torn to pieces. Disappointment, weariness or loneliness are given no media play unless, of course, something spectacular (burn-out - a fashionable state?) and scandalous is involved. Too many rounds on the roller coaster of experiences and emotions can screw you up.
In reality, life has more hues, from one end of the colour spectrum to the other. Not only opposites - black and white, fun and boring, right and wrong, good and evil - but everything that falls in between.