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Hannu Karjalainen Chastises Architect in Helsinki 0

Hannu Karjalainen. Video “Towards an Architect”
Taidehalli Studio, Helsinki
15 October – 20 November, 2011

From 15 October through 20 November, the Studio of the Helsinki Taidehalli Kunsthalle is showing Hannu Karjalainen's short-film, “Towards an Architect”, about the French architect, Guillaume Gillet.

Hannu Karjalainen (Helsinki/Berlin, 1978) is a Finnish creative talent who was voted as Finland's Artist of the Year in 2009. A photographer by education, he doesn't limit himself with just a camera; this is likely due to his having gone to the Helsinki Art and Design Institute (TAIK) – many of its graduates stand out with the tendency of exploring various forms of expression.

Hannu Karjalainen. Man in Red Sweatshirt 1. Photograph. 2009

The last ten years of Hannu Karjalainen's works exhibit a very prominent signature – both his large-format photo portraits and his short-films can be immediately recognized by their composition – thick paint has been freshly poured over something, usually on somebody's head or clothing. The artist himself has said that: “Color is a subject that doesn't come easily. It is something both abstract and unobtainable, as well as full of meaning and coded. I'm interested in how this relevance comes about.”

Guillaume Gillet's designed Fleury-Mérogi prison complex, in a southern suburb of Paris. 

The video, “Towards an Architect” (2010), being shown at the Studio of the Helsinki Kunsthalle, is based on the true story about the French architect, Guillaume Gillet (1912-1987), an ardent devotee of the ideas of Le Corbusier. Le Corbusier designed several buildings, including Notre Dame de Royan (1958). Along with his interest in religious buildings, Gillet had a passion for sketching prisons.

The Fleury-Mérogi prison today, built from 1964 to 1968

In the 1960's, Guillaume Gillet designed one of Europe's largest male prisons of the day, in a southern suburb of Paris. His dream was to make the prisoners happy through the use of well-considered architecture. But in reality, things turned out quite differently – the prisoners of Fleury-Mérogi prison had to serve their time in damp rooms and in unbearably close confinement. According to reports, some of the released prisoners carried out revenge on the architect by breaking into his office, putting a gun to his head and demolishing his place of work.

A scene from the short-film, “Toward an Architect”, 2010; showing at Taidehalli

In Karjalainen's short-film, the disgraced architect earns his just rewards: the artist punishes him with paint. The paint takes into account the palette of colors that Le Corbusier created for the Swiss wallpaper manufacturer, Salubra (43 different color spectrums were produced in 1931, and twenty more in 1959). Le Corbusier's harmonized tones are not used in the video as they were seen on the sheets of wallpaper, but as real and viscous paint being slowly poured.

Helsinki, Finland