The Baltic is presenting video work by Salla Tykkä. Born in Helsinki in 1973, Tykkä is renowned for her dramatically edited footage plays with cinematic structures and is often set to familiar, grandiose film scores. Since 2008, Tykkä has been completing a trilogy of films, each exploring a different notion of beauty and perfection, and each informed by the colour white. The Palace comprises an installation featuring all three works: Victoria 2008, Airs Above the Ground 2010 and Giant 2013, which has been co-commissioned by BALTIC. This is the first exhibition to present the trilogy together and it also marks the international premiere of Giant.
Victoria 2008 is a documentation of the nightly blossoming of the giant water lily; a ten minute time-lapse of the plant’s life cycle as it unfurls its petals in the dark. The lily blossoms over two nights; the first night it is white and when it opens for a second time a day later, its colour has changed to a red hue. European explorers brought ‘Victoria Amazonica’ and ‘Victoria Cruziana’ back from South America to Europe and named them after Queen Victoria. Tykkä offers the plant as a symbol of colonial power and domination in the 19th Century.
Airs Above the Ground 2010 focuses on the Lipizzan horse, the oldest existing pedigree breed in Europe. Developed in the 16th Century with the support of the Habsburg Monarchy which ruled Austria and Spain, the breed became closely associated with the Spanish riding school in Vienna. Lipizzan stallions are bred to perform haute école, or high school dressage, including the stylised and highly controlled jumps and poses known as ‘airs above the ground’. Born with dark coats, they gradually turn lighter until they are completely white. The work questions the uncertain line between nature and culture, juxtaposing footage of young foals running through wild woodland with adult stallions completing balletic feats of dressage. The soundtrack evokes power, control and grandeur: breath forced from the horses’ lungs and the stamp of shod hooves on packed earth is accompanied by JS Bach’s Mass in B Minor 1749.
Giant 2013 features the leading junior gymnastics team of Romania. The film is shot in two locations, the boarding schools for artistic gymnastics in Onesti and Deva. A soundtrack of interviews with the gymnasts accompanies images of them in training and of their empty gymnasiums. Archive footage from a film made in the 1970s using the same locations is also incorporated, revealing a continuity in picturing this sport and the structure of recording it. that use subtle narratives to engage with power relations, gender antagonisms, voyeurism, identity, obsession and perfection.
Tykkä describes gymnastic culture as a relic of dictatorship in Romania, using its aesthetic to reflect the values of a totalitarian society. From 1947-89 Romania was a communist state and became famous for its success in gymnastics at the 1976, 1980 and 1984 Olympics and after – the team always performed in white. These performances can be seen as symbolic of the communist society’s ideals of discipline, strength and beauty in order to legitimise its leadership.
Salla Tykkä (born Helsinki, 1973) is known for photographs and videos with historically and psychologically charged narratives. Her dramatically edited footage plays with cinematic structures and is often set to familiar, grandiose film scores. Since 2008, Tykkä has been completing a trilogy of films: Victoria 2008, Airs Above the Ground 2010 and, most recently, Giant 2013, which has been co-commissioned by BALTIC. The Palace comprises an installation featuring all three works and is the first exhibition to bring them together. It also marks the international premiere of Giant.
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS: Zoo, Drimart Garibadi, Istanbul, Turkey 2012; EX3, Florence, 2011; Hayward Gallery Project Space, London, 2010; Norrköping Art Museum, Norrköping, 2009; City Gallery Wellington, Wellington, 2007; S.M.A.K., Gent, 2006; De Appel, Amsterdam 2006; Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York, 2006.
Salla Tykkä’s films have been shown at international film festivals including: 36th International Film Festival Rotterdam, Rotterdam, 2007; 21st Brest European Short Film Festival, Brest, 2006; Tribeca Film Festival, New York, 2003; International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Oberhausen, 2003 and 2002.