Critics’ Picks

IC-98, Abendland II (The Place That Was Promised), 2013, two-channel video installation, black-and-white, sound, 16 minutes.

IC-98, Abendland II (The Place That Was Promised), 2013, two-channel video installation, black-and-white, sound, 16 minutes.

Helsinki

IC-98

Helsinki Art Museum (HAM)
Eteläinen Rautatiekatu 8
September 25, 2015–January 31, 2016

Are we capable of imagining the world after ourselves? Can we conceive of our planet after a massive nuclear or ecological catastrophe, with only minimal traces of a defunct human existence and a few lingering fragments of mutated nature? The Finnish duo IC-98 (Patrik Söderlund and Visa Suonpää) says we can and should envisage just such an eventuality. They have created animated films that show the planet’s surface completely enshrouded in leaden skies and stormy waters, as in Arkhipelagos, 2013, and a large decaying tree that is the last living thing on Earth, as in the three-part Abendland, 2012–14 (though part one is not on view here).

The works displayed are dark and heavy, as if filmed at night. They move slowly, compressing days, months, and years into about twenty minutes each. And, because humankind is absent, the anthropocentric viewpoint is also missing. We witness a continually changing, allover image with no specific narrative or focus. There is an elegiac quality to these works, mainly due to their gloomy subject matter but also because they are based on hundreds of elaborate pencil drawings, examples of which are included here. This method gives the works a sad, gray, grainy quality that perfectly matches their emotional and political message.