by Ariadna Zierold
Finnish artist Antti Laitinen’s works begin with a plan, but the final pieces are usually the result of circumstances and outcomes beyond his control. Laitinen, who has a background in photography and multimedia art, primarily stages performances that he then documents or records. Many of his projects involve open-ended, experimental, or durational activities; previous undertakings have included a photographic series produced while Laitinen lived in a forest without clothes, food, or water; rowing across bodies of water in various self-fashioned vessels; and drawings made by pressing his sweaty body on a surface. Disparate as his works are, they explore recurring themes of chance, endurance, communion with nature, absurd humor, and the passage of time.
Many of Laitinen’s works deal directly with fundamental issues of Finnish identity and cultural imagery – they are pictures of masculinity set in a context of nature and culture. And yet, Laitinen is not just a humorist playing around with cultural meanings – his work attests to the presence and attitude of an author who is aware of the tradition of experimental performance art. Often we see Laitinen pushing the boundaries of his physical endurance and comfort in order to engage with the world and thus creating a dialogue between the artist’s exploration of his own identity and the wilderness.
In Laitinen’s case, the term work needs be defined with care. Many of his works are actually composed of various stages in the process of its making, when he moves from one medium and semantic context to the next. The switch produces a new, independent work, which then becomes part of the overall piece and thus incorporating different temporal stages.