Nettie Horn brings artist Antti Laitinen to London

Antti Laitinen's exhibition is currently on at Nettie Horn in London. Laitinen is representing Finland at the 55th Venice Biennale and has already been hailed as one of the highlights of the event. The exhibition at Nettie Horn features a selection of projects, which have marked the artist’s practice since 2002, presented alongside documentation and works from the “Forest Square” project conceived for the Venice Biennale 2013.

Embodying the stamina of the Sisyphean gesture, Laitinen’s performances are attempts to recall a certain primitive language and conventions where the engagement of physical repetition, the idea of discomfort and the implication of solitary gestures reflect on the essence of the human being. Somewhere between the irrational and unpredictable characters of Russian writer Daniil Kharm’s stories and the surrealism of Monty Python, Laitinen exploits a philosophy of the absurd defined by Camus as “man's futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values”.

In “BARE NECESSITIES” (2002), Laitinen explores our romantic notions of nature in this urban age by living for four days in the Finnish national landscape, a forest beside a lake, without any food, water or clothes. The concept – escape from culture into the arms of the wilderness – is one of the basic motifs of Finnish identity: the first Finnish novel, Aleksis Kivi’s “The Seven Brothers”, is a story of seven men who escape into the forest to evade the demands of civilisation. Laitinen’s work is a documented lifestyle experiment, which explores the idea of a return to nature in an age of ecological problematics. In the video, we see the artist in all sorts of seemingly comical situations: lighting a fire by rubbing two sticks together, picking up ants for food, fishing with a primitive spear, burrowing in the moss under a tree to sleep. For the project “THREE STONES” (2004) Antti dug a hole and collected the stones he found after seven minutes of digging, seven hours and seven days.

For the project “FOREST SQUARE” Laitinen chopped down a ten meters square section of forest and sorted the entire found material such as the soil, moss, wood, pines, etc into various categories. He then rebuilt and reorganized the forest according to different colours – the composition referring to the pure abstraction and utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order from the De Stijl movement. Other works exhibited include “ISLAND TRILOGY” (2007-2008) consisting of three projects “IT’S MY ISLAND” (2007) “VOYAGE” and “GROWLER” that were exhibited as part of the Liverpool Biennial 2010.

Institute met Antti Laitinen just before Nettie Horn opening. See the ‘5 Questions with...' video interview with Laitinen talking about his most ambitious projects to date.