ArtReview sent a questionnaire to a selection of the artists exhibiting in various national pavilions of the Venice Biennale, the responses to which are being published daily in May, in the run up to the Biennale opening. Antti Laitinen is representing Finland. The Pavilion is located in the Giardini.
What can you tell us about your plans for Venice?
I will present two new works. The work Forest Square involves cutting down an area (10 m x 10 m) of forest, and sorting out the trees, undergrowth and surface soil. This material I separated by type (wood, spruce needles, ferns, twigs etc.) and then arranged for a final photograph. Forest Square consists of three photographs, one of the forest before any trees are felled, the second one after the trees and the topsoil has been removed with only a black square remaining in the forest and the third one in which the material has been arranged (by type of material) in various rectangles within an equal area of 10 m x 10 m. The work Tree Reconstruction involves cutting down five large trees, chopping them into parts and reassembling them in Venice, outside the Aalto Pavilion, a little bit like a huge jigsaw puzzle – some parts fitting better than others. These trees were felled near my home in Finland.
Are you approaching the show in a different way to how you would with a ‘normal’ exhibition?
I work with the same ambition and intensity in every art project I make, but this time I had more resources and time than ever before.
What does it mean to ‘represent’ your country? Do you find it an honour or problematic?
I don't find it problematic. I think I'm mostly representing myself. If Finland likes to present my work in biennale, I'm glad about it.
What audience are you addressing with the work? The masses of artist peers, gallerists, curators and critics concentrated around the opening or the general public who come through over the following months?
I don't address my work to any specific group. I like that ideas in my works are clear to understand so most of the people can get them.
What are your earliest or best memories of the biennale?
This is my first time in biennale so I don't have memories yet.
You’ll no doubt be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?
The last five months I've spent working in a dark and cold hall, so it will be great to see the sun for a change.