A light flashes on like magic, I see white flowers. Before I can make out the dimensions of the room or its details, the room is dark again.

I linger and wonder at what I have just seen.

Were the flowers really there, were they real? I see them as an afterimage, as if I had glanced at the sun, or a camera flash had gone off. I step out of the room and notice myself considering whether to enter again. Would I get a better grip on the work? I proceed, the flowers throw their flash in my field of vision once again –– a momentary shock –– and disappear into the darkness. I find myself baffled and elated. It is the year 2012 and I have just experienced Ida Palojärvi’s graduate work Hamza.

Palojärvi’s works require time and presence: lingering, moving around the space, stepping inside the piece. At the same time, these works escape a sense of capture. They are rotating mountains of paper that only an eye accustomed to darkness can see. They are hints of beauty hidden behind an obstacle or a wall. Hints of treasures, perhaps? The objects in the installations, the targets of a gaze, are magical yet somehow banal: knives, fruits, landscapes of mountains, gold, salt, flowers. The materials are symbolic and seem to hint at stories. But a plot awaits to appear. Instead, it is the spectator’s path or lingering in the space that gives birth to an event in time.

It seems as if the piece itself might be changing, when in fact the change takes place in the spectator.

One starting point for the works shown at the HAM Gallery is an individual’s potential to abuse his or her power, the thought that one can bring suffering directly or indirectly to another. Another starting point is a critical observation of aspects that are shown as something obvious. For instance, the realities of commerce: the mechanism of commerce supplies us with experiences that seem completely natural to us, when they are actually based on very complicated arrangements. Fruits are sold to us underpriced and raw, standardised and spotless. Their function is not only to feed us, but to provide an image of freshness, plentifulness and allure. The shift from a rare treat to a loss leader to lure customers into a store has been quick. We now expect fruits to be placed right at the front of a supermarket, immediately after the entrance. In the work EKSO 2, fruits are recognisable and still peculiar, on display yet hidden.

I follow Ida’s work closely as we share a studio. She works slowly, following the idea of a piece, testing out, building, and drawing models. I once asked her whether she is concerned that the outcome would not match the original vision, as she usually only gets to examine the work alongside the audience when the work is displayed. The risk of the work not functioning as planned is underlined and present until the moment of exhibiting. So far, taking this risk has made it possible to create those special situational experiences that her works bring about.

Marja Viitahuhta

Ida Palojärvi’s exhibition is comprised of the installations Anlegestelle and EKSO 2. The exhibition has been supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland and the Finnish Cultural Foundation.