NWE at SIC 12.9-11.10.2015.
At the center of Sauli Sirviö’s exhibition, New World Error, are narratives. Sirviö’s latest excursions are tales of people’s adventures behind the scenes of conventional cityscapes. These tales take place in cargo trains, moonlit train yards and subway tunnels – in a limbo between visible and hidden urban environments. The venue for the exhibition itself is an old harbor warehouse and its surroundings: don’t expect a stylized and well-groomed facade.
The narratives are presented in layers – Sirviö expresses himself with his composition of audiovisual material, and the main characters deliver with their spoken material, gestures and expressions. For example, Under the Paris Skyline contains several bits of video that have been filmed by the main characters themselves as the events unfold, but the main audio is an interview that has been carried out later – this gives an interesting emphasis on the collaboration and the distinctiveness of the visual and verbal storytelling – how different are the events as they unfold before you while you’re sitting on a couch in comparison to what went down on-site? The contrast between the visuals and the audio are a good reminder of how written and spoken tales cannot always reproduce the whole tale – that moment of disbelief and worry on the face of the main character, or the way the city looks when filmed on a camera while fleeing the scene. Does an adventure exist without a tale that molds the experience into adventure?
The exhibition includes some physical objects that give a very tangible feel to the narratives – but are these physical pieces of evidence from a crime scene, or just props? The photos and police documents related to the videos seem to ask whose side of the story you want to believe and invest in. They serve as a concrete reminder that all stories are told from one specific viewpoint, a viewpoint with its own interests in mind.
Sirviö’s works are more about the research of narratives than the actual narratives and stories themselves — Wolf Bloody Angel, for example, leaves it up to the exhibition goer to decide who is telling the story to whom, why is it being told and how everything turns out in the end. The characters in Sirviö’s works seem to be fleeing – be it from hospital or from ”Shitbay” – towards new adventures and tales that are waiting to be told already before the previous ones are fully digested.
The connection between the narratives and the present moment is left undefined. This brings light to the creative side of narratives — how a good narrative creates worlds and gives life to previous experiences over and over again, in new situations, to new people, and how the way tales are told molds the experience itself.
The theme of I Met My Mentor in NYC really stands out; the main character tells how they manage to infiltrate places they would normally not have access to by pretending to be something or someone else. They often manage to mislead others with surprisingly small details is speech and props – this clearly underlines how social roles are often nothing more than a facade, and how people prefer to take people and roles at face value instead of questioning if someone are indeed who they claim to be. The main character is like a shape shifter, something between a troublemaker and an artist. On both ends of the spectrum, they manage to shake the traditional cultural cookie cutter values that all too often seem to go unquestioned in modern society.
Sirviö manages to abstractify the basic dimensions of what it means to be human: we have always told stories, be it in temples or at a public urinal, of the forces that bind us together and mold us. People in this exhibition are always performing, be it consciously or not – we are all semi-fictional characters.
Tomi Visakko, researcher
Translation: Jussi Norio