I had been terrified preparing for my first solo exhibition. I recognised this as a common reaction for my body when facing something stressful. I took note of how the terrifiedness shut down my cognitive functions, how it made thinking and doing impossible. Then I wondered what might an artist halted by anxiety and fear do.
What an artist halted by anxiety and fear might do, is to take that fear and that anxiety and have them as the thematic starting points for their artistic work. They might get inspired by what kind of artworks their anxiety and fear are interested in. They might try to create shapes and textures that invite touch, that might have a grounding effect. They might make pieces that inherently draw out their curiosity and playfulness, feelings that can sometimes override fear. They might make work about how to befriend that anxiety and fear, so that they start seeming a little more like complicated but budding friendships and a little less like nightmares with endless chasing scenes in weedy bog water that you wake up from all terrified and sweaty. They might look into ways of working that are in some ways possible while brain-fogging in anxiety. They might negotiate with their brain daily what is possible to do each day.
In the first space you will find multiple sculptural works. There’s combinations of ceramics, glazes, fabrics, wood and cement forming a collection of pieces created out of curiosity, humor, pleasure and liberation. In the second space there is one bigger sculptural piece, two wall hangings and a video work. The video is projected on a wall with the sound coming through headphones. The work can be watched and listened to on two specially made seats. The text relating to the video is available also in written form.
I use the nervous system as a tool, with which I try to shed the moralizing and value-assigning gaze through which we have been conditioned to perceive and understand our bodies. I feel like a lot of the time we have no idea how to accommodate the reactivity of our bodies. Our environments don’t guide or encourage us to get to know the individual needs and qualities of our nervous systems. If we finally get space to do that, it might feel miraculously liberating.
Accessibility: In the first room of the exhibition space there are lights that are quite bright. In the second room the lights are dimmer, more so in the other end than in the first. Texts are black on light backgrounds, there are benches for sitting in both rooms, and minimum 140 cm wide pathways between works. Some pieces have writing in them; these texts are also available on paper. The video audio is in English and subtitled in English and in Finnish, it is available in headphones and in text. There is no other audio in the exhibition. There are two textured surfaces that could activate trypophobia. There is no audio description available for the exhibition. The texts in the exhibition are not available in braille.
Content notes/content warnings for the exhibition are available behind this link.
Eeti Piiroinen (they/them) is a trans and non-binary artist, writer and performer. Their work deals with embodiment, pleasure and trans futurity. They are interested in trying to create moments and spaces that feel more inclusive for marginalized bodies and experiences. At the moment Piiroinen is studying sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts. They approach materials and objects with embodied empathy and by being open to their suggestiveness and agency. In 2020 Piiroinen completed their exchange semester in Theatre Academy’s Dance Department. They were part of the artist group who created Deep Time Trans; a performance that celebrates our species-diverse and non-binary prehistory that premiered in Baltic Circle Festival in 2021.
Eeti Piiroinen lives and works in Helsinki, Finland. At the moment they are studying sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts. The exhibition Renerving in HAM Gallery is Piiroinen’s first solo exhibition.
The production of the exhibition has been supported by Greta och Alfred Runebergs Stiftelse.
 In critical theory, sociology, and psychoanalysis, the gaze, in the philosophical and figurative sense, is an individual’s awareness and perception of other individuals, other groups, or oneself. (Wikipedia)