The Donna and Howard Stone Gallery for Film, Video, and New Media welcomes a new work this May by Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila. Ahtila’s films, culled from research and interviews with individuals suffering from psychotic disorders, are sensual, profoundly moving vignettes. Her chosen subject matter lends itself easily to perceptual distortions, as series of images flow seamlessly between reality and illusion and draw the viewer into uncanny and deeply fractured environments.
The work in this installation, Talo/The House, is a three-channel video installation that envelops viewers, mirroring the protagonist’s acts of self-confinement. The film opens with a woman driving up to a secluded house in the woods. Through a series of fixed camera angles that recall surveillance-camera footage in their passivity and fragmentation, Ahtila describes the interior of the house and its surroundings in vibrant, contrasting colors and lush images. As the film progresses, the protagonist hears voices, her awareness of her environment beginning to disintegrate. She describes her experience to the viewer, stating, “Everything is now simultaneous, here, being. Nothing happens before or after. Things don’t have causes. Things that occur no longer shed light on the past. Time is random and spaces have become overlapping. No place is just one anymore.” As the woman’s perceptions unravel, the images become increasingly dreamlike, eventually creating a complete rupture of spatial and temporal boundaries. When the work reaches its conclusion, the protagonist is enveloped in the shadow and solitude of her home, the tension occurring onscreen reflecting the claustrophobia of the darkened exhibition space.