Heli Rekula: Drunken gods and a box of colours
03.10.19 – 27.10.2019
Bulevardi 10, Helsinki
In her new exhibition ‘Drunken Gods and a Box of Colours’ Heli Rekula has returned to the material she photographed in Mexico in autumn 1988. On her journey Rekula was caught in the middle of Hurricane Gilbert, in the eye of the storm on the Yucatán Peninsula. There was no escape, so the artist and her travelling companion were left to wait for the storm to die down. It lasted two days and left a powerful impression in the memory of the young photography student. Returning to the events of the journey via an exhibition now, 30 years later, is a way of investigating how looking at the world through the camera has changed, what was worth recording, and how an image was constructed. On the one hand, the passage of time has brought distance, while on the other, returning to these pictures has been a natural, meaningful thing to do. The storm is present in the works via satellite images. Of the photographs taken on the journey those that have ended up in the exhibition include images of rain forest, stray dogs and rock paving. The journey was to be an important experience, even though while it was happening, Rekula was not aware of what she could have done with the photographs. Now, decades later, going back to this material repositions the pictures in the artist’s production.
“My notes are black and white and grey tones in between. No writing, no drawings. Photographs. Thirty rolls of film, of which eight rolls are missing today, nowhere to be found. Too many years in between, things tend to get lost. These photos were taken right before and after the storm. None during the eye. What was there to photograph, windows shuttered with plywood boards: the sound of the roaring wind and the rain, the dead calm between the walls of storm. In the quiet of the eye I looked out the window. I remember the stillness, the deep silence, the glowing purple-grey light casting no shadows”
Heli Rekula is one of Finland’s key photographers. She has been active in the contemporary art scene since the early 1990s and this long career has brought her international acclaim. She worked as Professor of Photography at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design in Norway during 2009–2015. Today she is Senior University Lecturer at the Master’s Programme in Photography at Aalto University. Her latest solo exhibition As the Crow Flies was seen at EMMA Espoo Museum of Modern Art in 2017.