Eija-Liisa Ahtila : The House Sculptures
Eija-Liisa Ahtila
The House Sculptures
Elisabeth Bronfen + Régis Durand, December 10, 2007
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_The House Small
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_The House Small


From the start of her career in the 1990s, Eija-Liisa Ahtila has been considered one of the leading proponents of 'video art'. She makes films that she describes as 'human dramas' in which the characters are seen grappling with their emotions, their entourage and an unstable environment. Ahtila's working methods bring video close to cinema, notably by using its vocabulary and shooting techniques. She explores different registers (fiction, advertising, documentary), while playing on perceptual phenomenon so as to interrogate the capacity of the narrative to reproduce reality.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila_If 6 was 9, Crystal Eye
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_If 6 was 9, Crystal Eye


Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Dog Bites, 1992-1997_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Dog Bites, 1992-1997_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris


Jeu de Paume-Concorde is giving this Finnish artist her first retrospective in France. It covers pretty much the full extent of her work, from the early 1990s to the present, and features most of her films, including a new one produced in collaboration with the Jeu de Paume, but also her series of photographs. For this event all the spaces of the Jeu de Paume-Concorde will be given over to her work.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Dog Bites, 1992-1997_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Dog Bites, 1992-1997_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris


The works of Eija-Liisa Ahtila, which are mainly video installations, present narrative sequences with a strong psychological content. Their subjects are love, jealousy, anger, mental illness, filiation, grieving, and - most pervasively - death. Like a film director, Ahtila writes and films fictions whose protagonists are in the grip of extreme emotions, expressing their fears, going through crises, experiencing unexpected events that disrupt their vision of the world. In these stagings Ahtila questions the position of the individual in relation to their entourage (family circle, group of friends, etc.), the notion of Self and Other, intimacy and the loss of individuality.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Consolation Service, 1999_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Consolation Service, 1999_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris


Eija-Liisa Ahtila project
Eija-Liisa Ahtila project


From a formal point of view, Ahtila exploits all the possibilities of film language, ranging across the registers of cinema fiction, documentary, advertising, trailers and video clips. By interrogating the construction of narrative, she reminds us of the complex role of images in our society, and their influence on our perceptions.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila_The Present
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_The Present


Displaying remarkable technical quality, her films are at their most effective when given a spatial dimension, in multi-screen installations. Each projection is part of a wider whole and her work constitutes a world of images and sounds designed to serve the emotional intensity of the narrative. For her retrospective at the Jeu de Paume, Eija-Liisa Ahtila uses walls, coloured partitions and false ceilings to make the spaces conducive to visitors' immersion in her works.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila project
Eija-Liisa Ahtila project


Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Scenographer's Mind VII, 2002_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Scenographer's Mind VII, 2002_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris


Eija-Liisa Ahtila was born in 1959 at Hämeenlinna, in Finland. She began her studies in Helsinki before going on to specialise in film and video in London (London College of Printing, School of Media and Management), and then in Los Angeles (UCLA and American Film Institute). She had her first solo exhibitions in 1990. She lives and works in Helsinki.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Scenographer's Mind VII, 2002_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Scenographer's Mind VII, 2002_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris


Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Me/We ; OK, Gray, 1993_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Me/We ; OK, Gray, 1993_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris


Eija-Liisa Ahtila_The Hour of Prayer, 2005_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_The Hour of Prayer, 2005_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris


At the Jeu de Paume Eija-Liisa Ahtila is also showing her series The House Sculptures (2004), as well as several series of photographs, including the famous Dog Bites (8 colour photos, 1992-1997), in which a naked woman strikes canine poses, and Scenographer's Mind I to IX (18 photos in diptychs, 2002). She is also producing a new series specially for the retrospective.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Fishermen, Études 1, 2007_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_Fishermen, Études 1, 2007_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris


Eija-Liisa Ahtila_The Hour of Prayer, 2005_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris
Eija-Liisa Ahtila_The Hour of Prayer, 2005_Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York et Paris


From January 22  until March 30, 2008

www.jeudepaume.org