Kai Art Center is delighted to present a duo exhibition featuring Finnish artist Tuomas A. Laitinen and Estonian artist Kristina Õllek. In their first collaboration, Laitinen and Õllek provide a comprehensive overview of their recent works, creating an alluringly translucent environment.

 

 

Tuomas A. Laitinen’s work revolves around the exploration of symbiotic processes infused with mythological undertones, grounding itself in the concept of mutualism. Drawing inspiration from various biological theories as well as mythical stories, Laitinen’s work transcends the mere study of biology to inquire about the intricate entanglements of structures and lives within our complex, pulsating ecosystem. On view at Kai will be his complete series of Proposal for Octopus glass sculptures which Laitinen started in 2016, including the newest additions to the series made in 2024. Premiering at Kai will be his new video work filmed at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in December 2023 which highlights the changing skin color of sleeping octopuses. Laitinen’s years-long research into cephalopods’ unique behavior and the remarkable similarities between the nervous system and sleep patterns of octopuses and humans fuels his special interest in species adaptation and neuroplasticity in rapidly changing environmental conditions.

 

With Kristina Õllek, the artists have created a synergetic installation supported by steam, and ultrasonic sound which gives the viewer a sense of being underwater. The focus of Õllek’s work over the last six years has been the exploration of the intricate relationship between marine ecology and technology, using various geographical regions as case studies. For this Kai installation Õllek has concentrated on the Baltic Sea, creating a series of new works using grown seal salt, cyanobacteria, and green fluorescent pigment. Experimenting with organic and synthetic materials in recent years has been a way to allow unexpected results to become part of her practice. Standing in sea water in purpose-built aquariums, her salt installation will continue growing and changing for the duration of the exhibition.

 

Together, the artists create a thought-provoking narrative that invites us to reflect our responsibility for the planet which is part of us, undivided from our bodies, and to question whether humans as a species are ready to adapt to the challenges of climate conditions in the near future.

 

Tuomas ‍A. ‍Laitinen (b. 1976) ‍is ‍an ‍artist ‍who ‍works ‍with ‍moving ‍image, ‍sound, ‍light, ‍glass, ‍chemical ‍and ‍microbial ‍processes, ‍as ‍well ‍as ‍algorithms ‍to ‍explore ‍the ‍entanglements ‍of ‍multispecies ‍coexistence. ‍Laitinen ‍composes ‍situations ‍and ‍installations ‍that ‍inquire ‍into ‍the ‍porous ‍interconnectedness ‍of ‍language, ‍body, ‍and ‍matter ‍within ‍morphing ‍ecosystems. ‍In ‍recent ‍years, Laitinen ‍has ‍been ‍working ‍with questions ‍of ‍ecology, ‍the ‍notion ‍of ‍the ‍extended ‍mind, ‍and ‍processes ‍of ‍knowledge ‍production. ‍The ‍works ‍are ‍often ‍made ‍with ‍translucent ‍and ‍transparent ‍materials ‍in ‍order ‍to ‍find ‍ways ‍to ‍layer ‍and ‍diffract ‍material ‍relations ‍and ‍different ‍epistemological ‍systems.

Laitinen´s ‍works ‍have ‍been ‍recently ‍shown ‍in ‍the ‍21st ‍Biennale ‍of ‍Sydney, ‍7th ‍Bucharest ‍Biennale, ‍Screen ‍City ‍Biennale ‍2019 ‍(Stavanger), ‍SADE ‍LA ‍(Los ‍Angeles), ‍Amado ‍Art ‍Space ‍(Seoul), ‍Moving ‍Image ‍New ‍York, ‍A ‍Tale ‍of ‍a ‍Tub ‍(Rotterdam), ‍Art ‍Sonje ‍Center ‍(Seoul), ‍Helsinki ‍Contemporary, ‍Museum ‍of ‍Contemporary ‍Art ‍Kiasma, ‍EMMA ‍– ‍Espoo ‍Museum ‍of Modern ‍Art, ‍MOCA ‍Shanghai ‍& ‍Cinemateca ‍do ‍MAM ‍Rio ‍de ‍Janeiro. He was the nominee of the 2023 ARS Fennica Prize. 

 

Kristina Õllek (b.1989) is a visual artist based in Tallinn, Estonia. She is working in the field of photography, video and installation, with a focus on investigating representational processes, geological matter, aquatic ecosystems, and the human-made environment. In her practice, she uses a research-based approach, but within she also incorporates her own fictitious and speculative perspectives. With her work, she raises questions around the relationship between natural and synthetic, original and copy, and understandings of materiality by obtaining a new and reconsidered meaning. She is interested in stretching out the boundaries of what we can see and use as an image and space, especially in the age of rapidly developing and highly manipulative technology. Within her recent projects she has been focusing on marine habitat and the notion of new technologies, including the geopolitical and ecological conditions associated with them. 

Kristina Õllek’s works have been shown in various international group and solo exhibitions including at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Oslo), Zeppelin Museum (Friedrichshafen), A Tale of A Tub (Rotterdam), Laurel Project Space (Amsterdam), Le Lieu Unique (Nantes), Screen City Biennial, (Stavanger), Fotomuseum Winterthur, Titanic gallery (Turku), KUMU Art Museum (Tallinn), Riga Photography biennial and Zuzeum (Riga) and Benaki Museum (Athens).

 

Audio guide

Visual guide

 

Curators: Karin Laansoo & Anna Mustonen

Exhibition team: Kadri Laas-Lepasepp, Maria Elisaveta Roosalu, Kärt Koppel, Henri Kutsar

Installation: Tõnu Narro, Mihkel Lember + Erik Liiv

Glass blowers: Mafka & Alakoski

Scientific consultant:  Sam Reiter´s lab, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

Production for Pattern Recognition video: PALO Art Productions

Graphic design: Kert Viiart

Translations: Keiu Krikmann, Mari Volens

Special thanks: Ki Nurmenniemi, Kert Viiart, Kaupo Õllek, Hailii Õllek, Artproof, Taavi Suisalu

 

If you wish to book a personal tour at Kai Art Center, please write to info@kai.center. We also offer guided education programs on the exhibition for students in Estonian, English and Russian.

 

The exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, City of Tallinn, the Finnish Institute in Estonia, Helsinki Contemporary, The Alfred Kordelin Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Frame Contemporary Art Finland and PALO Art Productions.

 

Selected press coverage: