13 December 2011

Ene-Liis Semper

Kumu - The Estonian Art Museum
Tallinn, Estonia
videos, installations

Welcome to the largest exhibition of Ene-Liis Semper's work so far. As the probably most profiled Estonian contemporary artist, Semper works with both video, installation and performance, and use herself and her family in her works.

The exhibition shows several new works, both video and installations. Her earlier works are hidden in a gigantic labyrinth built into the 5th floor of Kumu. Some works are beautiful, some disturbing, and some rather shocking. At one moment you see children running around playing, the next you see a person pushed along in a hospital bed. One moment there is a beautiful video of arranging furniture on top of each other, the next moment the sound of pianos crashing into each other grabs your attention.

Semper deserves such a retrospective and onward-looking exhibition. It is a great opportunity to be aquainted with her very wide specter of works. Here are glimpses of some of the works.

Let's first enter the labyrinth of the past:

Ene-Liis Semper: Sun
Two children play running around in a room. The sunlight through the window is obscured for a short moment as the children pass in front of it. As the sunray reappear, the screen turns almost all white for a moment, before the camera adjusts to the light. At the same time a short signal sounds. The game leaves a mark, even the sun can be overwon for a moment.

Ene-Liis Semper: Into New Home
Into New Home
A person in a hospital bed is rolled through the landscape. The background is changing, but the bed seems to not getting anywhere. The person in the bed seems forlorn and sad, holding tight a small rat in her hands. The only sign of other people is a graveyard the bed passes by on the way, but it is not stopping there. Is the patient going from one place to another, or is she on an eternal journey? Is she moving from home to her new home, the hospital, or is she moving from the hospital back home?

Ene-Liis Semper: Red Line
Red Line
A red line is dividing a landscape in two. As a red line usually symbolises a connection, here it is a partition, where something that obviously fits together is parted. Suddenly a person is swinging across the scene, a human pendulum hanging from her legs. She flies with grace, her dress flowing around her. Is she happy, is this a game? Or is she forced to swing like this, like a grotesque metronome?

And then on to the present works:

Ene-Liis Semper: Untitled
A porn movie parody, fake exitement, real joy. This is obviously a guy jerking off in front of a girl, but then again it is not. It is all fake, nothing is real. The actors are dressed in costumes that could either be some weird fetish dress, or some teletubbyish animation costumes. The "male body part" is made of rubber. As the guy gets more intense, the girl's joy increases, until it is all rounded up by the girl being covered in whipped cream. As porn itself is fake, this fake porn is double fake. A quite disturbing, but very funny piece.

Ene-Liis Semper: Untitled
From time to time there is a strong noise in the exhibition hall. This installation is the source of that. Suddenly this small cottage leans over to one side, then there is a sound of something rolling, that ends in a great crash. Three pianos are standing free inside the box, mounted on rails. And the all smash into each other from side to side as the box tilts. Each time they crash they are further destroyed, some parts were on the floor already.

Ene-Liis Semper: Untitled
It is rather disturbing to see such fine pieces of furniture detoriating. The pianos that can be the source of the most wonderful music, now only make a horrible noise. By every crash, the chance of ever hearing soothing tones from these pianos gets smaller.

Ene-Liis Semper: My Home
My Home
A beautiful movie about how the artist collect furniture to decorate her home. As she says in the move: "This is the best idea I ever had." At first there are only some few chairs. But then the furniture piles up, until the room is filled from floor to roof. The three pianos of the former mentioned installation are here as well, all in perfect shape, even with candlelightholders intact. This movie stirs thoughts on how we keep on collecting stuff until it is too much, but it also points to how much aestetics there is in a piece of furniture. And how many and which furniture does it take to make a home?

Exhibition page here