I Am Still Alive.
A Text by Timothy Persons
The exhibition, I Am Still Alive, explores Brotherus’ personal metamorphosis in how she sees herself both in front of and behind the camera. The works chosen for this presentation reflect a selection based upon the Fluxus principle that anyone, anywhere, any given moment, can use their creative sensibilities to interpret and reinvent an art piece, using whatever materials are available. Brotherus emphasizes, "it is not about mimicking another artist’s original performances, but studying and understanding the written protocols, the so-called ‘event scores’”. In a way, she eliminates the question of authorship and focuses her attention on the invitation to create her own interpretation.
Elina Brotherus has worked throughout her twenty-plus-year career in photography and moving images. Her works have alternated between autobiographical to art historical approaches, utilizing nearly any aspect of her personal life to those of the most iconic images from 19-20th-century paintings. Brotherus’ most current focus is directed towards works from the 1960-70s. She revisit the Fluxus event scores and other instructional material for performance-oriented art. Her latest work also includes references to other artists with whom she has collaborated, such as VALIE EXPORT and Erwin Wurm.
Her fascination with the Fluxus movement and many of the artists who evolved from it begins with the legendary German curators, René Block and his wife Ursula. Block, who has a special relationship with Finland, was asked to select the first Ars Fennica award in 1991 and has since then maintained a continued interest in artists from the Nordic region. Rene Block’s gallery and Ursula’s music store, both based in Berlin, were the principal sources for Fluxus art in Europe. Thus, they were able to collect one of the most comprehensive archives, capturing that specific period of art, that can be found anywhere in the world. Through their friendship and time shared, Brotherus had both the opportunity and sources to begin this series of work.
"I really regret that I wasn’t living in New York in the 1960s”, admits Brotherus. In the same tradition of Cunningham and Cage, Elina Brotherus and Antti Ikonen collaborate together on a series of videos, re-enacting the method of the iconic duo, in which only the eight-minute duration is agreed upon. Cunningham and Cage performed on stage eight-minute pieces in which neither could see or hear what the other was doing, a notable approach to co-creation, reflected in Brotherus’ and Ikonen’s reinterpretation. "Ikonen was just fiddling around with a prepared piano and making tapes, and then we just put the music together with my videos.”
Elina Brotherus is one of the leading female artists of her generation and a benchmark for other artists from the Helsinki School, particularly in how they reflect and interpret their own personal strengths and weaknesses through the photographic process. Sometimes the clown, other times the muse, both antagonist and victim, Brotherus always has the penchant for the curious.