Exhibition view 2156, photography by Milla Talassalo
Still images from video installation 2156
2-Channel video installation
Text by Harri Laakso
Music by TÖLÖLAB
Saana Wang’s exhibition 2156 is a compendium of space, time, and coincidence. The multichannel video and sound installation raise questions of visibility and invisibility; Wang invites the audience to examine representational imagery, and to possibly find new clues hidden within the limits of perception and experience. In Wang’s exhibition, the unpredictability of life takes on a visual and atmospheric form.
In her artistic practice, Wang often combines documentary and fictional imagery. In 2156 she unravels the archives of personal memory, the events of collective history, as well as situated memory of the landscape and body, which surface as separate anecdote. Woven throughout the work are narratives inspired by the fate of miners in the Datong coal mines of China in 2014, the sinking of a torpedo boat in the Gulf of Bothnia in 1925, the painting of air balloon escaping Paris in 1870 by Jules Didier and Jacques Guiaudaus, and the Mars simulation experiment IV by HI-SEAS space science centre in 2015-2016. The narratives bend, overlap, and disappear into an unknown and mutable space/time spectrum.
Wang’s immersive ensemble invites us to be absorbed by the flow of images and to be entranced listening to a flood of sentences—a hypnotic gesture emphasised by a repetition of single events which blur our sense of time. In the exhibition, areas are accentuated by an ominous red light whose shadows cast symbolic layers—societal and cultural power structures, and private expectations that form our understanding of the contemporary world. Raised by the fragmented dialogue between a man and a woman, substantive questions about our existence and the coincidental nature of life itself, are intertwined within the fog.
On an autumn day 3rd of October 1925, the torpedo boat S2 sank in the Gulf of Bothnia, and the whole crew lost their lives. My grandfather was supposed to be in that boat, but after a long night’s celebration had ended up in jail. Would I exist, if my grandfather had drowned with the S2 torpedo boat?
On view in the gallery is a corresponding text to 2156 by Professor Harri Laakso—in dialogue with Wang’s artwork and inspired by the thinking of Michel Serres, Walter Benjamin, and especially Alain Badiou’s thoughts on love. Wang’s book 2156 was published in 2017 by Neuflize OBC, Centre Photographique d’lle-de-France.
Arts Promotion Centre, Arts Council of Uusimaa, has kindly supported the exhibition. The Finnish Cultural Foundation, Centre Photographique d’Ile-de-France, and AVEK have kindly supported the making of the work 2156.