Towards the first nordiSKulptur exhibition: An interview with Páll Haukur and Pia Männikkö


Páll Haukur: Death of Object, Pia Männikkö: Phaser, 2018.

By Annukka Vähäsöyrinki 

AV: Páll Haukur, in your artistic practice you are interested in deconstructing the concept of an object. As materials you use image, ready-made objects and natural materials, among others. What is your working method and the process from an idea to a finished art work? 

PH: All of the work I do is inseparable from an overall process in my mind. In the sense that it´s more like traveling through a landscape, each new work being a topological continuation of this stretchable plastic whole. That’s how I try to think about sculpture. The general idea is to situate oneself within, or at least aim at reaching, a place beyond the symbolic hierarchy of representation and structures of meaning. I am more interested in how sculpture exists or performs than I am in what it means. The tension between the material and the physics that constitute it is what makes the sculpture for me, how the deterministic meets the arbitrary and chaotic. I feel that things like gravity, tension or decay are as much objects within the sculpture as are its more physical and obvious parts. I think a sculpture is ready in my mind when it manages the possibility of drawing attention to those things but also, preferably, if it has the slightest possibility of self-destructing. When it manages to hold that tension, it becomes an object in the overall landscape, so to speak.

AV: Pia Männikkö, space and body are the starting points in your artistic practice. What is your working method and the process from an idea to a finished art work? 

PM: Often a new art work stems from an idea I want to realise, but sometimes also from an interesting material I’ve found. I don’t always have a projected end result in mind, but the art work rather forms throughout the process, by experimenting and testing. You don’t often get to do a test installation of spatial pieces in the exhibition venue beforehand. That is when the art work and its installation require extra careful planning. You won’t see the outcome until right at the end. That’s exciting!

AV: What can we expect to see at the nordiSKulptur exhibition at Gallery Sculptor?

PH: I think there is going to be a lot of decay and change. I´m interested in making sculptures for this show where a biological component needs to be replaced regularly – kind of like a sacrifice on an altar. I like to use living materials in combination with more rigid structures so that the whole thing is either growing or breaking down depending on where it is in the process. Time will be the main sculptural element, I think. That and some sticky golden honey.

PM: On my part the planning has only just begun. Gallery Sculptor is familiar to me as an exhibition space, but only from other artist’s exhibitions. Now I’ll have to look at it with new eyes. I would actually like to make a new piece for the exhibition. Me and Páll have also been offered a chance to work together on a new piece, but we haven’t had time to discuss matters in much detail yet. My aim is to make the exhibition as interesting as possible.

AV: What kind of dialogue is there between your works and practices? 

PH: Me and Männikkö just started a dialog. I´m very excited to work toward this show with her. I think we are both interested in the subjects of time and nature even though we are approaching them from a slightly different angle. I suspect that the show might end up having a somewhat organic feel to it…

PM: Our works are very different, which makes the combination interesting. Sharing the exhibition venue, our works will inevitably communicate with each other. As soon as we get the planning properly started, we might find unexpected connections with our practices.

AV: Páll, is this your first connection with the Finnish art scene and vice versa, Pia?

PH: I´ve been to Helsinki before and got some minuscule connections with the place but this is my first time showing there. Very excited about that.

PM: I’ve never been to Iceland, but I’m very fascinated by it. I’ve been planning to apply for a residency in there. I have encountered Icelandic artists and art works through exhibitions and publications, but personally I don’t know Icelandic artists. Except for Páll very soon!

AV: Páll, what kinds of themes and phenomena can you detect in contemporary Icelandic sculpture and where is it heading to?

PH: It´s hard to say in regard of some sort of Icelandic-ness at this point. A lot of influence and knowledge has been brought to the island in the past two decades by artists traveling and studying abroad. One of the main influences responsible for a contemporary art movement in Iceland was the Fluxus in the 70´s. When it comes to materiality and such, contemporary sculpture in Iceland is maybe more than anything influenced by the lack of certain industrial solutions and funding. It mostly relates to the body and means of the artist making it. Still, this is by no means absolute. I would say that the contemporary sculpture in Iceland is an unruly being that resists being one thing or another.

AV: Your work focuses on materials, objects and aesthetics. How does it resonate with the current themes and trends in Icelandic sculpture?

PH: It´s hard for me to say except, like the local weather, it resists being any one thing. Also, my sculpture practice is largely developed in Los Angeles where I used to live for a few years. There I wasn’t necessarily so much interested in what was going on in the local sculpture landscape, with heavy materials and all kinds of synthetics seeming to be trending. My interest was always in trying to confuse or disrupt some sort of hierarchy of meaning I felt constituted objects, physical or ephemeral, and eventually my sculptures started coming out of that process. I feel like it´s still a process that does not give any kind of account of what the thing is going to be until it´s just there.

AV: What kinds of trends and phenomena have you detected in the Finnish contemporary sculpture, Pia, and how does your practice mirror them?

PM: I haven’t noticed any one trend, if you don’t count as such the wide array of practices and technics. The materials used in contemporary sculpture can be plants, fabric or light, as well as digital tools and platforms. Also public works are executed in diverse ways. You can, for example, combine a sculpture and video projection, like Vesa-Pekka Rannikko did in his latest work published in Vantaa in November. Traditional materials are still widely used, but themes and topics come from today’s world. Sculpture reflects topical issues related to the society and environment. I believe this trend will continue.

I consider myself a ’multifunction artist’. I haven’t been able to select just one material or method. I’ve noticed, that quite many artists use other forums as well besides traditional exhibitions. I have been working as a scenographer at a dance theatre group, for example.

AV: NordiSKulptur 2019 is a collaboration between sculptors’ associations in Finland and Iceland. As members of these associations, how do you see the role of artist associations in 2018?

PH: I think the role of artistic institutions like the sculptors’ association is still very important. I see art as material-based craft regardless of its theoretical, political and even ethical implications, and I think associations built around the accumulated knowledge and histories of the artistic subject at stake are of great value. Not to mention the social aspect. Art is in my mind very much a thing contingent on a social body, which makes it important to cultivate and pay close attention to how that body thrives and proliferates.

PM: It would be very challenging for an individual artist to produce such an exhibition project. The strength of artists’ associations is enabling these kinds of exhibition opportunities and events for their member artists. Advocacy, communications and networking are also an integral part of the functions of an artists’ association.

Cookie Policy for Nordic Culture Point

What Are Cookies

As is common practice with almost all professional websites this site uses cookies, which are tiny files that are downloaded to your computer, to improve your experience. This page describes what information they gather, how we use it and why we sometimes need to store these cookies. We will also share how you can prevent these cookies from being stored however this may downgrade or ‘break’ certain elements of the sites functionality.

For more general information on cookies see the Wikipedia article on HTTP Cookies. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_cookie)

How We Use Cookies

We use cookies for a variety of reasons detailed below. Unfortunately in most cases there are no industry standard options for disabling cookies without completely disabling the functionality and features they add to this site. It is recommended that you leave on all cookies if you are not sure whether you need them or not in case they are used to provide a service that you use.

The Cookies We Set

In order to provide you with a great experience on this site we provide the functionality to set your preferences for how this site runs when you use it. In order to remember your preferences we need to set cookies so that this information can be called whenever you interact with the page. For example whether the welcome banner is displayed on the main page is affected by cookies.

Third Party Cookies

In some special cases we also use cookies provided by trusted third parties. The following section details which third party cookies you might encounter through this site.

This site uses Google Analytics which is one of the most widespread and trusted analytics solution on the web for helping us to understand how you use the site and ways that we can improve your experience. These cookies may track things such as how long you spend on the site and the pages that you visit so we can continue to produce engaging content.

For more information on Google Analytics cookies, see the official Google Analytics page. (https://www.google.com/analytics/)

We also use social media buttons and/or plugins on this site that allow you to connect with your social network in various ways. For these to work, the specific social media sites will set cookies through our site which may be used to enhance your profile on their site or contribute to the data they hold for various purposes outlined in their respective privacy policies.

Facebook Pixel

The Facebook Pixel receives these types of data:

– Http Headers – Anything present in HTTP headers. HTTP Headers are a standard web protocol sent between any browser request and any server on the internet. HTTP Headers include IP addresses, information about the web browser, page location, document, referrer and person using the website.
– Pixel-specific Data – Includes Pixel ID and the Facebook Cookie.
– Button Click Data – Includes any buttons clicked by site visitors, the labels of those buttons and any pages visited as a result of the button clicks.

Disabling Cookies

You can prevent the setting of cookies by adjusting the settings on your browser (see your browser Help for how to do this). Be aware that disabling cookies will affect the functionality of this and many other websites that you visit. Disabling cookies will usually result in also disabling certain functionality and features of the this site. Therefore it is recommended that you do not disable cookies.

More Information

Hopefully that has clarified things for you and as was previously mentioned if there is something that you aren’t sure whether you need or not it’s usually safer to leave cookies enabled in case it does interact with one of the features you use on our site.

Please let us know if you have questions or comments. (https://www.nordiskkulturkontakt.org/en/contact-us/)

This Cookies Policy was created with the help of the CookiePolicyGenerator.com