EIJA-LIISA AHTILA3-channel projected installation
The Annunciation is an installation of three projected images in which one of the central motifs of Christian iconography is constructed and re-enacted through moving image.
It is based on the narrative from the Gospel of Luke (1:26-38) and paintings of the Annunciation in which artists have in various periods depicted their visions of the gospel´s events.
In this Annunciation the events are set in the present. The installation consists of both, the material of the preparations for the shooting, as well as the actual reconstruction of the event of the Annunciation. The film material was shot mainly during the frosty season of the winter of 2010 in the snowy Aulanko nature reserve, in southern Finland, the artist´s studio and on a set depicting the scene of the Annunciation. All the actors, apart from two, are non-professionals and some of them are clients of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute´s women´s support services. Although based on an existing script, the events, roles and dialogue were adapted during the filming process in accordance with the actors´ own presence.
A viewpoint to the Annunciation is Jacob von Uexküll´s idea that living beings´ different worlds exist simultaneously. That idea provides the approach to the nature of a miracle and the possibilities of perception and knowledge.
"A Stroll through the Worlds of Animals and Men" Jacob von Uexküll (1957)/excerpt:
"We are easily deluded into assuming that the relationship between a foreign subject and the objects in his world exists on the same spatial and temporal plane as our own relations with the objects in our human world.
This fallacy is fed by a belief in the existence of a single world, into which all living creatures are pigeonholed. This gives rise to the widespread conviction that there is only one space and one time for all living things.
Only recently have physicists begun to doubt the existence of a universe with a space that is valid for all beings."
An excerpt from The Annunciation, the narrator´s voice:
"For something to get started, one must merely begin and connect with a thing that isn't yet - as far as one knows, at least. And to write more to it.
How does one know what things are, unless they're already familiar? What does one know of them at that stage? How do such things exist?
How to get next to them and engage in dialogue - on what and in whose language?
One instinctively approaches such things through the familiar, the known - at times with such precision and force that one can see from a single angle only, in one direction, all things in a clear order - one thing in front, another just behind it, and so on - in perspective.
Can something already familiar fulfill the criteria for a miracle? Can one be shaken with surprise by something one knows through and through? What does one see then?
Perhaps one encounters a question, which one cannot understand. Or an image of something that begins to puzzle the mind. They are displayed somewhere, where they can be discovered, and then one waits to see who comes to look at them. And how they look at them."
During her career, Eija-Liisa Ahtila has had several significant solo exhibitions, for example, in 2002 retrospective exhibitions in Tate Modern and in Kiasma, The Museum of Modern Art in Helsinki. In 2006 she became the first Finnish visual artist ever to have shown works in MoMA. Two years from that, in 2008 she had a retrospective exhibition in Jeu de Paume in Paris. In addition to this, she has participated in the Venice Biennale (2005, 2008), documenta in Kassel (2002, 2005) and São Paulo Biennial (2008). Eija-Liisa Ahtila has also been awarded with many important international art prizes such as Artes Mundi, an International Visual Arts Prize in Wales (2006) and The Vincent van Gogh Biennial Award for Contemporary Art in Netherlands (2000). She has also received The Prince Eugen Medal in Sweden (2009) and in Finland, among other things, the honorary title of an Academician (2009).