Galerie Anhava
Fredrikinkatu 43
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Timo Heino
dal 11/4/2007 al 5/5/2007

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Timo Heino

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Timo Heino

Galerie Anhava, Helsinki

Installations. In discussing the joint effects of different possibilities and their realization or non-realization, these works seem to aspire to associations of different forms, of perplexingly disciplined materiality.

comunicato stampa

How Close Does the Rubber Come?

How to write oneself in or out of something is a perennial issue for all individuals who write. First you have to immerse yourself in the subject, and then find your way out of it. To verbalize something that feels and comes on the skin is a challenge, for like smell, the sense of touch is hard to capture even conceptually, let alone take command of. Timo Heino’s (1962) art comes very close, for within it different and mutually conflicting elements come together in an extremely precise and concrete manner. In Heino’s works, charged choices of material, such as blood, dog excrement or bone, bring the viewer to a halt. In addition, his refined works are boldly open to different associations.

Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish begins with a detailed account of an execution, in which horses tear Robert-François Damiens into pieces. Since the horses were unaccustomed to the task, two more were needed. Finally, the criminal’s limbs had to be cut in order to complete the execution. As a finishing touch, Damiens’s body was burned, in addition to the careful recording in documents of the length of the process and its thorough description. Foucault’s book becomes a fervent reading experience, mercilessly revealing the effect of physical punishment and surveillance on the subject. After reading this book, discipline, order and rationalization are revealed in their pitilessness. Discipline and lack thereof also belong to Heino’s palette, in addition to which it is necessary to refer to this French philosopher who dressed in black leather and carried a bag of SM accessories with him, for in Heino’s art the discussion of physical and sexual experiences is a recurring theme. Heino deconstructs our expectations of the individual’s identity as being unequivocal. His art is based on ambivalence and its analysis in visual form.

Whip Master
A tree trunk lined with rubber to which birds’ eggs are attached. This is Timo Heino’s sculpture Koivuniemen herra (Whip Master, 2007). For Finnish viewers, the title Koivuniemen herra [literally Master of Birch Cape meaning a twitch for punishing children] brings to mind banal sayings related to punishment, such as "to be raised without discipline is to die without honour" in the Finnish tradition or the Biblical classic " He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. " (Proverbs 13:24) The Book of Proverbs contains many variations on discipline, in all of which the themes of knowledge and physical discipline are combined. An example is: " Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge". (Proverbs 19:27) Here the combination of the right knowledge, behaviour and discipline is quite graphic. One must bow to discipline or lose the right knowledge, or in Biblical terms, thirst for knowledge of good and evil. This makes one a fallen angel. Whip Master aptly visualizes how the metaphor is discipline in physical form. With his work, Heino also expresses how the disciplining partner withdraws into invisibility behind the means that are used for the purpose.

Discipline plays an important role in issues of raising and education children: the order of the day, eating hours and corporal punishment are different aspects of the same ideology. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Swiss popular psychoanalyst Alice Miller developed the concept of "black education", of which I now read with different filters than before I became a parent. According to Miller, the punishment of children is adherence to a tradition whereby earlier generations transfer their own negative experiences to the next generation, and consequently to later generations. Miller takes a rationalist view, seeking to understand why education and upbringing can go wrong, and how a sweet child can become an adult regarded as a psychopath. Her interpretation is perhaps too simple and unforced to be coped with. For simplicity is a trap through which the individual begins to yearn for complexity.

But how should we understand discipline and punishment? There is such a thing as good pain telling us that the body’s warning system is functioning, or the wonderful feeling following from an extreme experience that ice-swimmers always talk about. And as those who have experienced pain know, the body has quite a memory. Discipline teaches one to obey, and everyone likes that. Disobedience leads to situations where people have to assess their own desire to please greater authorities. Who wants to give up pleasure? The bureaucratic violence of society that Timo Heino analyses in his works often leads to the question of whether I could or would step out of its sphere of influence, and whether such evasive movement is even possible. Perhaps art is the only means.

Is Whip Master a shock, like extreme experience? Its different materials are charged: rubber covers, shields, makes its wearer sweat, it is sexy, or mundane. The birds’ eggs placed on it are fragile shells that have contained the beginning of life, albeit being collected in the 1920s. Heino had obtained a collection of birds’ eggs which he uses as material. Made frail by time, the eggshells give the piece an allusion of temporality. The wood in the work is naturally a branch, trunk or living being. But what these materials form together is another matter. I associated the rubber with condoms, because of the everyday term alone, their purpose being to keep love and illness apart, which was their main function already in the 18th century.

Whip Master unravels a complex mix where pain and pleasure intermingle. Complexity of this kind deconstruct our ideas of the unity of the individual’s identity, of which Foucault also speaks, and to which Julia Kristeva, for example, refers: "Excrement and its equivalents (decay, infection, disease, corpse, etc.) stand for the danger to identity that comes from without: the ego threatened by non-ego, society threatened by its outside, life by death". (Kristeva 1982, 71.) But is not non-self conceptually bound to the self. My life clings to death. The rubber is like a metaphor separating beings or acts already entwined with each other that are called opposites. Heino demonstrates gently or cruelly that images make us different, standing apart from us in their sameness. His works do not let the wound of subjectivity be shut. Instead, he opens it repeatedly, for Whip Master can be seen as a giant spider, with legs slashing carnally, while the eggs attached to its rubber skin perplex the viewer with their ready-made nature.

Speed blindness
The umbrella is one of the central ready-mades of surrealist iconography. Heino’s Vauhtisokeus (Speed Blindness, 2007) combines the iconic umbrella with even more iconic animal skulls. The industrial meets the organic in this work, in which umbrellas changing into birds converse with skulls reduced to ideas. The basic black everyday umbrella turns into a poetic image, and the animal’s dead head appears as a fact. Heino addresses the justification of distinguishing the ready-made from the organic, and analyses the shared life of different material elements.

Heino’s sculptures leave marks and meanings in their viewers. He is adept in the undisciplined, for paradoxically he is most undisciplined when he is at his most disciplined. In discussing the joint effects of different possibilities and their realization or non-realization, his works seem to aspire to associations of different forms, of perplexingly disciplined materiality. As already stated by André Breton in The Second Surrealist Manifesto, surrealism is a new awareness. This principle, which also more common in art, is interpreted repeatedly by Heino. He is not satisfied with one or two levels. Instead, in his works ambiguity unequivocally knocks the viewer out. As a viewer, I move in Heino’s world all the time in both the sphere of meanings of the material and in the states of meanings of materiality: the umbrella as a black umbrella vs. the umbrella as a black bird.

The Night Porter
The deranged meaningfulness of Foucault’s surveillance is based on classification and control. The title of Heino’s Yöportieeri (Night Porter, 1974) refers to Lili Cavani’s sensational 1974 film Portiere di Notte, telling the story of a Nazi officer and a former concentration camp prisoner. The film was regarded as offensive because of its subject, explicit sexuality and the fact that it is not an unconflicting reading. This work by Heino consists of white coat-check numbers, each one bearing the black fingerprint of a different person. A white lamp with a magnifying glass gives the piece its own tone, as its rays of light create shadows at play on the surface and let the viewer enjoy the individual fingerprints.

And as we "know", the subject is ultimately reduced to its fingerprints, which squeeze forth a single identity from sketchy parts, and even though the Finnish police are adopting electronic fingerprinting, the idea of the ink stain being equivalent to the individual still lives on. An individual to be controlled and kept under surveillance, of whose guilt there is no other truth... Heino creates visual elements from fingerprints, some of which become stains and others are almost invisible. The fingerprint thus turns into both image and ornament. An ornamental fingerprint breaks down social decorum seeking to make political decisions naturally self-evident or inevitable. Heino also returns his viewers to consider the attendant conditions of society’s mortal embrace: what do I regard as right? He does not buy "monoculture as multiculture", and warns the rest of us of the perils of such gullibility.

Night Porter is once again a good example of how in Heino’s works undisciplined networks arise from various hints, comments and associations. A good example of this is the title of work, referring to Cavani’s film, while it can also be taken at the level of metaphor to consider who gathers souls. The answer of course is Saint Peter. But whether Saint Peter is the greatest of all gatekeepers, or whether man created him in his own image, in order to be assured of his own unconflicting essence, remains an open question before this collection of fingerprints.

Foucault, Michel 1977 (1975): Discipline and Punish. English translation by Alan Sheridan. Penguin Books, London.
Kristeva, Julia 1982 (1980): Powers of Horror. An Essay on Abjection. Translated by Leon S. Roudiez. Colombia University Press, New York.
Miller, Alice 1983 (1980): For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence. English translation by Hildegard and Hunter Hannum. Farrar - Straus - Giroux, New York.
Paekman, Julie 2004: Lascivious bodies. A sexual history of the eighteenth century. Atlantic Books, London.
Juha-Heikki Tihinen

With thanks to Timo Heino and Eeva Luhtakallio

Mannerheiminaukio, 3 - Helsinki

Jacob Dahlgren
dal 2/9/2015 al 26/9/2015

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