Tate Modern  Level 4
30 April – 28 July 2002

The Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila (born 1959) first came to prominence in the early 1990s. This exhibition features video, film, photography and installation and is the first major survey of her work in this country. It includes a number of key works from the past ten years, such as the acclaimed Me/We, Okay and Gray 1993, three short films originally made for broadcast between mainstream television programmes in Finland. Employing snappy dialogue and swift visual techniques, these mini-psychodramas suggest the form of upbeat television commercials yet their subjects subvert the genre by focusing on personal and collective traumas. Her work can be presented equally in a cinema, on television or in a gallery context and explores the theme of human relationships - between families, lovers, genders - by way of narrative that is drawn from the artist’s own experiences and observations.

In If 6 Was 9 1995, burgeoning feelings of female desire and sexuality are investigated through a series of frank declarations and confessions among a group of adolescent girls. On the brink of adulthood, the young women appear to fluctuate between childishness and precocity. In the installation Anne, Aki and God 1998, Ahtila presents a study centered on a character called Aki V who, in the grips of a paranoid delusion, embarks on a search for the ideal woman, whom he imagines is called Anne. Hovering between reality and fiction, the work charts the futility of Aki’s quest with the help of twelve actors. The collapse of a marriage forms the basis of Consolation Service 1999, which was awarded honorary mention at the Venice Biennale in 1999. Here Ahtila tells the story of J-P, his wife Anni and their attempts at reconciliation, set against a harsh Finnish landscape. This exhibition culminates with a new work, The Present 2001, comprising five short, independent stories concerned with the theme of forgiveness.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila studied at the University of California, Los Angeles, the London College of Printing, and Helsinki University. Her work has featured in numerous international exhibitions, including Organising Freedom at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2000), Cinema Cinema at the Stedlijk van Abbesmuseum, Eindhoven (1999) and the Venice Biennale (1999). In September 2000, Eija-Liisa Ahtila was announced as the first winner of the Vincent, the first biennial award for contemporary art in Europe, at the Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, and was also given the Coutts Contemporary Art Foundation Award.

The exhibition is selected by Susan May, Tate Modern Curator, in collaboration with Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki.

Opening hours: Sun - Thurs 10.15 - 18.00 Fri & Sat 10.15 - 22.00