Riitta ikonen


january 15 - February 7, 2015

One’s mind and the earth are in a constant state of erosion, mental rivers wear away abstract banks, brain waves undermine cliffs of thought, ideas decompose into stones of unknowing, and conceptual crystallizations break apart into deposits of gritty reason. Vast moving faculties occur in this geological miasma, and they move in the most physical way. This movement seems motionless, yet it crushes the landscape of logic under glacial reveries.

                                           Robert Smithson, “A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects”, 1968

The Chimney is pleased to present “Glacial Reveries” by Riitta Ikonen. Inspired by her recent trip to Greenland and a continuation of her exploration of the interaction between humans and their natural environment, Ikonen has developed a body of work referring directly to glaciers and their fate in the age of the anthropocene. Reveries (day dreaming) stand out for Ikonen as the human survival strategy in the event of an end of the world scenario. Humorous undertones transform the heaviness of both the iceberg and topic into a poetic tale oscillating between the absurd and the fantasy. Ikonen has disseminated small and larger objects throughout The Chimney: a wetsuit for the tip of an iceberg, a lifejacket for a brick, eroded stones tied back together with strings, a video hidden in a suit, stairs leading up to cinder block windows…

Ikonen departs from the literal representation of the iceberg and draws an analogy between the emerged and hidden part of the glacial masses and our human condition. As expressed by Robert Smithson in “A Sedimentation of the Mind”, Ikonen explores “abstract geology”, that is to say the geography of the mind through performance, sculptures, wearable objects, and videos. 

Referring to the expression “the tip of the iceberg”, Ikonen wonders : “Keeping your head above the surface is good, but what about your feet?” She dives below the surface, and questions what we do not see, the immersed part of the berg, the one that is daunting because invisible. In the central monumental piece of the show the artist has recreated a ready-to consume iceberg made of found-recyclable materials as an ironic way to depict how easily we can reduce the manifestation of centuries of life into a packages digestible visual concept.

In her Glacial Reveries, Ikonen chooses to let go and to confront visitors with the unknown, despite how terrifying it might be: “What if we could see icebergs floating over us?, the artist wonders. What if we could see and understand the immensity of knowledge. What if we could be heavy, and not in a hurry?”

About Riitta Ikonen

Riitta Ikonen (b.1981, Finland) completed her BA at the University of Brighton and MA at the Royal College of Art, London. Her work threads memory, myth, imagination and a romantic view of the natural world. She uses performance, video, wearable sculptures and photographic portraiture to investigate the various ways humanity occupies and interprets its environment.

Ikonen has been awarded artist residencies at Shandaken, Recess (at Pioneer Works), the Bemis Center of Contemporary Art, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (SPARC) in New York. In 2014 she was nominated for Finland's biggest contemporary art prize Ars Fennica.

Ikonen’s work was featured in notable solo and group exhibitions including “Future Fossils” (2015), Dutton Gallery, New York; “Heavy Petting” (2015), Dose Projects, New York; “Mail Art” (2015), Postal Museum, Finland; “Chronicle” (2013), Denny Gallery, New York; “Camouflage” (2012), Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki; “Fantasticology” (2011), London 2012 Olympic Park; “Warmer Still?” (2009) Winzavod Contemporary Art Center, Moscow; “Walkthrough Wardrobe”, Tate Britain (2009) and Victoria and Albert Museum (2010) London; “Bird and Leaf” (2008), The Hockney Gallery, Royal College of Art, London;  “Eyes as Big as Plates” (touring exhibition): Greenland (2016) - Nuuk, Narsak, Aasiaat, Paamiut, Tasilak, Qaqortoq; The Greenland National Museum, Nuuk (2015); Bogota International Photo Biennale (2015); Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Nebraska US (2015); gallery FACTORY, Seoul Korea (2015); Villa Borghese, Rome (2014); the Ars Fennica exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Arts Kiasma (2014); Fotogalleriet, Oslo (2014); Seibu Shibuya, Tokyo (2012); Gulbenkian Foundation, London (2012) ; Photographer's gallery, London (2012); The Finnish Institute in Oslo (2011), Paris (2014) and Stockholm (2015);