Opening hours:
Monday - Friday:
11am - 7pm

Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold

25 November 2011 > 09 December 2011 Alkatraz Galler and Horizonti – Institute for Art, Culture, Science and Education are inviting you to the opening of the exhibition by Finnish artist Ulla Karttunen curated by dr. Mojca Puncer, on Friday, 25th November 2011, at 8 pm at the Alkatraz Gallery. The exhibition will open Mr. Ville Cantell from the Embassy of Finland. Besides the regular opening hours the Alkatraz Gallery will be open also on Saturday, 26th November from 6 p.m. until 23 p.m. and Saturday, 3rd December 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

You are also invited to the accompanying symposium on Monday, 28th November:
Part I: starting at 10 am in Mala dvorana SRC SASA, Novi trg 4/II. Participants: Ulla Karttunen, Dr. Marina Gržinić Mauhler, Dr. Polona Tratnik, Dr. Miomir Knežević, Jurij Krpan, Mag. Aldo Milohnić, Jovita Pristovšek, Irena Borić, Ana Kršinić – Lozica, Ivana Hanaček, Janez Janša.
Part II: at 7pm in the Hall M3-4 in Cankarjev dom (co-organized by Maska Ljubljana), a lecture by Dr. Svetlana Mintcheva, an expert on art censorship, Director of Programs at National Coalition Against Censorship, USA.

The title of the project Blindfold arises from a series of images that are topical for the artist Ulla Karttunen at the moment and will be shown at the planned exhibition.

More general issues will be discussed at the symposium accompanying the exhibition Censorship, Art and Voluntary Blindness. Apart from the usual meaning of the word “blindfold” (as defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary), the term symbolises everything that veils mental and physical seeing. The term is also connected with justice: the goddess of justice, Justitia, has a blindfold as a symbol of the ideal objectivity of the law. The blindfold itself is a cliché accessory for sexual activities (as advertised by the popular media).

The Finnish artist Ulla Karttunen actively entered the artistic world at the beginning of the 1990s. After having graduated in the arts, she now works as a visual and multimedia artist, art critic, curator, designer and writer. Besides all of the above, she is also active in the field of theoretical research, with an emphasis on the relationship between art and reality. In 1997, Karttunen established the Bedroom Gallery Bathroom Gallery (Paris, Helsinki), while between 1999 and 2009, she developed her experimental artistic project “Boudoir Rouge” in a private apartment in Paris.

What we are dealing here with is a more pronounced activist orientation within contemporary visual and multimedia artistic practices (with an emphasis on computer graphics and design), and also critical thought. We are talking about performative processuality, where the subjective positions of both “author” and audience are tested again and again (work/life-in-progress), instead of being subordinated to the “aesthetic transcendence”.

Ulla Karttunen accosts us with the failed critical confrontation between art and reality and so constantly challenges the boundary between the theoretical and the practical, within her own art works as well. The key factor of her work is the questioning of the fetishisation of art subjects/objects, which become goods with a value at the art market, and the questioning of contemporary life, which is becoming a form of commodity itself. Related to this issue is the cliché of the female image within the mass media, which the artist explores in her series of digitally and hand processed images – icons from the popular media.

In the past few years, Ulla Karttunen has intensively devoted her time and effort into creating digital icons. Typical for her images are copying and quoting techniques, appropriations and the blurring of recognisable identities of the depicted female figures. The icons are created by computer-generated images, digital paste-ups and mixed techniques (manual interventions into digital pictures). Besides digitally formed paste-ups of bigger as well as medium-sized images (from the series Red, Black Madonna, The Architecture of Justice), this exhibition brings together a collection of smaller icons in period frames, which otherwise we might find framing old portraits (Blindfold).

Ulla Karttunen confronts the concept of an icon while using contemporary advertising strategies and the stated culture of stars and worship of celebrities. In this way, she exposes the function of icons ruling within the mass media.

In the background of Ulla Karttunen’s icons lies a censorship incident relating to her work Virgin-Whore Church in the Kluuvi Gallery of the Helsinki City Art Museum in 2008. At that time, the media demanded that the celebrities, when processed by art(ist), have to be unrecognisably masked. This consequently means that a social critique of marketing strategies is acceptable in art only as masked, blinded and turned down. Female stars have, with the artistic intervention of Karttunen, become that which they never wanted to be: unrecognisable saints. Although the images show unearthly female beings, the source and inspiration for them are real market structures with their media idols. They serve as a real foundation for a series of images, which lose their original meaning and gain a new one during the paste-up processes. The image of women on the pictures moves away from a symbol for a pantheon of stars, whose existence is conditional upon the supremacy of the capitalist market and is ensured by appearance in the media. Women from the icons look like heralds of a liberated female power in yet undiscovered worlds of sensual eroticism, where the latter is indiscernible from the vast mental and intelligible landscapes of integral sovereign female subjectivity. Visual and discursive strategies, used by Ulla Karttunen in her works, thus join those appeals in art that call for the establishment of a critical corpus in the present-day topical social reality that is caught in a vicious circle of hyper-production, consumption and destruction.

(From the accompanying text of Dr. Mojca Puncer)

ULLA KARTTUNEN is a visual artist and theorist based in Helsinki, Finland. She has made digital icons, installations, performances, media works and conceptual projects. She has called her method of working reality art, an approximation of reality, but reality in its most mysterious aspects. Her work-in-progress series of digital icons Red, Black Madonna and Blindfold depict unknown saints. The digital sources of icons come from media junk, and the works have also been painted manually with banal materials such as nail polish, jam, lip gloss or ketchup. One main theme in the works is the critique of dualist thought, which divides the sensual and sacred, flesh and spirit. As a critic and theorist, she has written hundreds of articles, especially about the mingling borders between art and reality. Her projects include the retrospective exhibition The Divine: Sanctified Women from a Dark Planet in the Joensuu Art Museum (2011); the solo exhibition Ecstatic Women in the Kluuvi Gallery of the Helsinki City Art Museum (2008), which included the work Virgin-Whore Church; various other exhibitions, including at Forum Box, Valssaamo Cable Factory, Gallery Myymälä2, Haihara Art Center, Rauma Art Museum, Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, and the Crypt of the Helsinki City Cathedral, as well as Bedroom Gallery Bathroom Gallery, which started as an artist-run activity by a nomad group in her private bedroom in Paris; the performance Stoning to Death (2009), where the audience was given the opportunity to eliminate the immoral artist; and the books L’Amour et la Mort (2009) and Ulla Karttunen: A Modern Mystic (2011).

More about the symposium:

The project is co-organized by KUD Mreža / Alkatraz Gallery, Horizonti – Institute for Art, Culture, Science and Education, SRC SASA, Maska Ljubljana, Cankarjev dom, Publishing Society ZAK, and is financially supported by the Municipality of Ljubljana, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, FRAME – Finnish Fund for Art Exchange, the European Union within the “External Actions of the European Union”, and the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia.

Sponsorship: Hotel Park, Hostel Celica

The work of Ulla Karttunen has been additionally supported by: Arts Council of North Karelia, Arts Council of Finland, Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Special thanks to: Tanja Velagić, Dalibor Jovanović, Matej Turnšek, Erika Šešek, Iztok Dolinšek, Matija Brumen, Osmo Karttunen, Erkki Sevänen, Embassy of Finland in Ljubljana

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Svetlana Mintcheva

Sex, Blasphemy, Terrorism: Art and Free Speech in an Age of Emotive Politics

Within the framework of BLINDFOLD, a project consisting of  two parts, an exhibition and  a  symposium entitled Censorship, Art and Voluntary Blindness,  and in co-organisation with the Seminar of Contemporary Performing Arts (Maska Ljubljana), there will be a lecture by Svetlana Mintcheva, an expert on art censorship, the Director of Programs at National Coalition Against Censorship, USA. It will be held in Cankarjev dom on November 28 th.

A national museum removes an established artist’s historic video from an exhibition due to religious pressure; a man gets a jail sentence after receiving explicit Japanese comics; a newly elected governor banishes a labor mural from the state’s department of labor because it may offend business interests – these are some of the incidents that define the current landscape of art censorship in the U.S. In a country that holds the principle of free speech as sacred, censorship needs to wear the disguise of lofty goals: it pretends to protect the innocence of children, the sensitivities of the faithful, the wholesome values of the community. The ultimate goal is to make self-censorship the order of the day. The censor – more frequently a member of a private group than a government official – evokes outrage, disgust or the self-righteousness of offended values and beliefs. Emotional appeals are often supplemented by economic pressures: threats of withdrawn funding and boycotts targeting corporations. These are often successful since the control of information in America, together with everything else, is being increasingly privatized and exercised by tech giants such as YouTube, Amazon, Facebook and Apple.

Freud’s analysis of dreams reveals that it is the most powerful content of the unconscious that is censored; so it is with looking at a culture through the prism of censorship: the censor’s targets reveal a society’s deepest obsessions, the demons it creates to protect itself from self-knowledge and change.

Svetlana Mintcheva is director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship, a 37-year old alliance of U.S. national non-profit organizations united around the mission to promote freedom of thought, inquiry and expression and oppose censorship in all its forms. She is the founding director of NCAC’s Arts Advocacy Program, the only U.S. national initiative devoted to the arts and free expression today. Svetlana has written on emerging trends in censorship, organized public discussions and mobilized support for individual artists. She is the co-editor of Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Free Expression (New Press, 2006), curator of Filth, Treason, Blasphemy?: Museums and Censorship (McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum) and author ofExposing the Censor Within, an interactive public art installation. An academic as well as an activist, Mintcheva has taught literature and critical theory at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, and at Duke University, Durham, NC, from which she received her Ph.D. in critical theory in 1999. She is currently adjunct professor at the Steinhardt School of Media and Communications at NYU. Her academic research focuses on postmodern fiction as well as on ethics, censorship and the notion of “offense.”

Photos of the opening: Sunčan P. Stone

Photos of the lecture of dr Svetlana Mintcheva:Matija Brumen

Colour Of Blood (detail)/ Ulla Karttunen In An Underwater Net (detail) / Ulla Karttunen Madonna Hiding Among the Folds (detail) / Ulla Karttunen Madonna Of The Letter Of Light (detail) / Ulla Karttunen Madonna Of The Nightly Signs (detail) / Ulla Karttunen Orchidizing (detail) / Ulla Karttunen Red Bibbles (detail) / Ulla Karttunen The Red-hooded Ones (detail) / Ulla Karttunen Tragic Joy (detail) / Ulla Karttunen Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold  Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Ulla Karttunen: Blindfold Blindfold Blindfold Blindfold Blindfold Blindfold Blindfold Blindfold Blindfold Blindfold Blindfold Logotypes The lecture of dr Svetlana Mintcheva, photo: Matija Brumen The lecture of dr Svetlana Mintcheva, photo: Matija Brumen The lecture of dr Svetlana Mintcheva, photo: Matija Brumen The lecture of dr Svetlana Mintcheva, photo: Matija Brumen The lecture of dr Svetlana Mintcheva, photo: Matija Brumen The lecture of dr Svetlana Mintcheva, photo: Matija Brumen