Antti Laitinen - Broken Landscape (2017)
Within the practice of Antti Laitinen (b. Raahe, Finland, 1975, lives and works in Somerniemi, Finland), pieces of forest are dissected into their smallest components and then reassembled like pieces of a puzzle, while blocks of ice, made by the artist himself, are placed in a warm lake in summertime like arctic ice floes. Human intervention in nature, often with unpredictable results, is the central motif in Laitinen’s work. These interventions usually consist of extreme physical exertion that also requires great mental fortitude.
The artist sailed from Finland to Estonia in a boat he built himself out of bark, for example, a lonely romantic surrendering to the absurdity of human longing . He spent four days in a forest without food or clothes, struggling to navigate the space in imitation of the supposedly self-sufficient primitive that we humans will never be again, not in this increasingly roboticised world full of ecological problems.
Laitinen undermines the nostalgic ideal of nature, but in a humorous way and with respect for all life. His practice is in line with the traditions of experimental performance art, but also addresses the issue of Finnish national identity, which to a large extent is perceived in relation to the country’s untouched nature.
Some of the works also connect to the current debate about that national identity. For It’s My Island, Laitinen carried sandbags into the Baltic Sea to create an island. As is often the case in his work, this project was a labour-intensive experiment, documented with photographs and videos, and the various stages of construction were just as important as the final result. After three months of lugging bags, a sandbank appeared above the surface of the water, large enough for the artist to sit on. A new land, inhabited by one citizen.
For Disruption, Laitinen worked on a tree – the ultimate symbol of nature, essential to all life on earth. Metal rods were used to link the branches of the tree, while sections were sawn away in many places, resulting in a surrealist appearance that is typical of Laitinen’s oeuvre. A deconstructed and subsequently reconstructed tree. The tree as an artwork of nature as manipulated by human hands.