Contemporary art usually begins with the traditional in order to break boundaries and thus change or add something to the artistic expression. There is an expectation that installation art ought to be large-scale, spacious and immerse the viewer. In Suvi Nieminen’s "Still Life II" (1990), one comes into a room with four objects placed on both the walls and the floor. They vary in size, form and materials. We can move around the room and view the objects from different perspectives.
© Suvi Nieminen, Still Life II, 1990, installation
Still life is a genre traditionally associated with painting and can be separated into several categories. What they have
in common is that the combination of such differing objects as food, flowers, sculls and candles constitutes symbol-laden
and allegorical subject matter. Memento mori symbolism is the most well known, where we are reminded of the transience of
life on earth and that we must remember to make the best of the little time we have been allotted.
Nieminen’s still life also consists of several juxtaposed objects. These handmade, small, non-figurative sculptures are placed in different areas around the room. One doesn’t recognize the objects’ character or function, something that obfuscates the still life’s symbolic meaning and lessens the allegorical aspect. In addition, painting’s two-dimensionality and illusion of space are challenged, when the artwork consists of concrete objects in an actual room. Insofar as we move around in the room we experience a modern version of the still life as installation. Are there any reminders here? Perhaps we are being asked to see things from different angles.
Suvi Nieminen was born in 1957 in Finland. She lives and works in Bergen.