29 March - 30 April 2008
New York

Eija-Liisa Ahtila



Marian Goodman Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of the critically acclaimed Finnish filmmaker, video artist, and photographer Eija-Liisa Ahtila and the US premiere of her new work 'Where is Where?', a powerful six screen installation. We are also pleased to be showing 'Fishermen' (Etudes, no 1), the first in a series of short studies that Ahtila is planning to make.

Eija Liisa Ahtila
March 29 - April 30, 2008
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 29, 6–8 pm

Marian Goodman Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of the critically acclaimed Finnish filmmaker, video artist, and photographer Eija-Liisa Ahtila and the US premiere of her new work 'Where is Where?', a powerful six screen installation. We are also pleased to be showing 'Fishermen' (Etudes, no 1), the first in a series of short studies that Ahtila is planning to make.

'Where is Where?', a major new installation made up of simultaneous HD-projections with 8 channel sound, is shown continuously on six screens. This will be the first U.S. presentation of the work, which was premiered at Ahtila's solo show at the Jeu de Paume, Paris (which continues until 30 March) and which will tour to K21 Düsseldorf in May 2008.

The theme of 'Where is Where?' is colonialism and the presence of two different cultures. Its starting point is a real event that took place in Algeria at the end of the 1950s. At that time, Algeria was still under French rule and was involved in a long struggle for independence from the mother country. The situation was extremely violent, both because of recurrent assassination attempts by the resistance movement and because of the French government's harsh countermeasures. As one consequence of and reaction to the barbarous acts committed by the French, two Algerian boys killed their friend, a French boy of the same age.

The story has three main characters: Adel and Ismael, the Arab boys who committed the murder, and a European poet, a woman of about 40. The story opens with Death entering the woman's house. The experience of death is compared to finding oneself in a new country and to a calling into question of existence and identity. The woman starts, with the aid of words from her profession of poet, to clarify what happened, while also running through elements involved in the event, such as the different religions, guilt and sameness, and a search for what they have in common. Gradually the focus shifts from the woman's world to the boys' reality. The murder is taken out of the time of its occurrence and brought into the present day. A mist clears from the back garden of the house to reveal a boat that has appeared in the swimming pool, in it sit Adel and Ismael. The poet is shifted to the background, and what the boys say and the inevitability of what they did – with its causes and consequences – take centre stage.

Although the film's starting points are based in reality, at the heart of the story is the relationship this event has with today's situation. The narrative starts from the present moment, which is gradually interwoven with what the boys did and the events in Algeria. Thus, the murder committed by the boys is seen, on the one hand, in the light of the current world situation and, on the other hand, in a way that attempts to put the conflicts between western and Arab cultures into historical perspective. The events are, nevertheless, approached from the viewpoint of an individual person and filtered through her.

The installation of 'Where is Where?' in the North Gallery is accompanied by a single screen installation 'Fishermen (Etudes, no 1)' in the North Gallery Viewing Room. The first of a series of short studies or etudes, the film was shot in West Africa, and observes the local fishermen who attempt to overcome the strong wind and heavy waves to launch their boats out to sea.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila was born in 1959 in Hameenlinna, Finland and currently lives and works in Helsinki. She was the recipient in 2000 of the Vincent Van Gogh Biannual Award for Contemporary Art in Europe, Maastricht, The Netherlands as well as the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award, Switzerland. In 1998 she received the Edstrand Art Prize, Sweden. She attended Helsinki University, Faculty of Law (1980-85); Independent Art School, 1981-84; and London College of Printing, School of Media and Management, Film and Video (1990-91). She received a Certificate from U.C.L.A. in Film, TV, Theater and Multimedia Studies, Los Angeles (1994-95) and attended special courses at the America Film Institute, Advanced Technology Program, Los Angeles (1994-95). She has exhibited extensively at numerous museums and film festivals around the world and her films have received distinctive film awards and prizes over the years. Her work has also been widely seen on television in Europe.

A solo retrospective of her work, with a fully illustrated catalogue, is currently on view at the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris and will tour to K21 Düsseldorf from 17 May – 17 August 2008. The production of 'Where is Where?' was generously supported by the Ellipse Foundation, Portugal, who will present the work later this year, and the Ringier Collection, Zurich.

Numerous one-woman exhibitions of her work have been seen internationally at venues such as Tate Modern, London; Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bolzano, Italy; De Appel Center for Contemporary Art, Amsterdam; The Dallas Museum of Art; Zurich Kunsthalle; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Salzburger Kunstverein, Salzburg; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum Fridericianum, Kassel and MOMA, New York. Retrospectives of her cinematic work have been recently shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; the Institute Finlandais, Paris.

Important group exhibitions include Auto Emotion, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto; Views from the Bosphorus, Istanbul Modern, Istanbul, Turkey (2007); Beyond Cinema, Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum für Gegenwart; Ecstasy: In and About Altered States, MoCA, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The World is a Stage: Stories Behind Pictures, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Girls Night Out, Orange Country Museum of Art, Los Angeles, which traveled to Aspen and St. Louis, and Houston's Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston (2006) ; 51st Venice Biennale 2005; The Friedrich Christian Flick Collection, Hamburger Bahnhof Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin; Outlook, Athens; Away from Home, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Reel Sculpture, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Documenta II, Kassel; Sydney Biennale 2002; Venice Biennale 1999 and 1997; Manifesta 2 1998, Luxembourg; and the 5th Istanbul Biennale 1997.

Please join us at the opening reception on March 29th from 6-8 pm. 

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