Tuesday 27 September 2011

Riita Paivalainen

After seeing Wind I, by Riita Paivalainen at the Byzantine Museum last week, I had to find out more about her, and discovered  that all her photographs are as stunning and atmospheric as this one.

There is a  magical quality in the dream-like beauty of Paivalainen's work.

Her photographs are based on site specific sculptures/installations she makes from clothes she buys in flea markets and thrift shops.

© Riitta Päiväläinen

During the 'Ice Project' she started soaking and then quickly forming the clothing as it quickly froze, thus animating it

She then encountered another element, namely wind, and this led to yet more experimental sculptures.

© Riitta Päiväläinen

"I am interested in old garments because they carry silent unknown stories and histories ..."
"For me, a  piece of clothing represents above all, its former wearer. It tells you that somebody has been present. However, the person who wore it is now gone... By freezing the garment or letting the wind fill it with air, I am able to create a sculptural space, which reminds me of its former user. This 'imaginary meeting' represents for me, the subtle distinction between absence and presence.

Landscape plays an essential role. Landscape is not only a topographical, objective phenomenon. For me, it is personal and subjective. Working with a landscape means going into it: experiencing and sensing the place. When I place clothes into a landscape I create an installation. In this sense landscape can be considered as a stage. Bringing those two elements (landscape and clothes) together I create a dialogue - an interaction. My aim is to suggest and bring forth potential stories, mental images and associations".


"The unavoidable fact that I will never know the personal stories and actual histories connected with the clothes arouses my curiosity. The clothes remain silent withholding their secrets. Little by little, personal histories are absorbed into the collective history".

"This 'unwritten history' surrounds me all the time. I can feel its presence in various ways: as a rip in a coat; as a place worn thin in an armchair; as a light footprint on an inner sole of a shoe".

"Each of her installations, with a 'setting' (the landscapes), 'actors' (clothes) and 'atmosphere' (light), is carefully prepared. However, in working in natural elements, Paivalainen is also open to the accidental, the unforseen, and surprise.  By using photographs rather than the installation as the final work of art, she is able to choose the exact frame and moment she is looking for, and in so doing, maintains control over the decision as to what she includes and what she leaves out". (Andrea Holzherr).

KEHRER VERLAG : Riitta Paeivaelaeinen - Imaginary Meetings

As in a lot of Nordic art and literature it is the combination of the harsh climate and the feeling of loneliness that is so poignant.



  1. If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise

  2. Interesting what you say, Tatiana, because Sally thought so too. I just think that they very very beautiful.