Tuomas A. Laitinen & Kristina Õllek

Kai Art Center is delighted to present a duo exhibition featuring Finnish artist Tuomas A. Laitinen and Estonian artist Kristina Õllek. Cyanoceans is an exploration into the realms of marine ecology, climate change, and species adaptation. The artists have created a synergistic installation supported by steam and ultrasonic sound which serves as a metaphorical underwater journey.


Tuomas A. Laitinen’s work revolves around the study of symbiotic processes infused with mythological undertones. 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 series of “Proposal for Octopus” glass sculptures which Laitinen started in 2016, including the newest additions made in 2024. The exhibition will also premiere Laitinen’s new video made at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in December 2023, fueled by his yearslong interest in the shapeshifting abilities of octopuses.


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 sea 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 to grow and change for the duration of the exhibition.


While Laitinen delves into the nuanced dynamics of symbiosis and mutualism – urging viewers to contemplate the profound interconnectedness that binds us with life forms vastly distinct from our own – Õllek, in turn, illuminates the conditions of the Baltic Sea and its hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas, through the presence of algal blooms and the pervasive influence of toxic metal pollution. Her work brings attention to the evolving composition of the sea’s ecology and marine chemistry, underlining the impermanence and transformative nature of these critical environmental factors.


Collectively, Laitinen and Õllek invite the audience to reflect upon the intricate dynamics of different lifeforms living on the planet. The artists weave a complex narrative that encourages a deeper engagement with ecological themes, whilst emphasizing the urgent need for environmental awareness and action. The immersive experience challenges viewers to question whether humans, as a species, are prepared to adapt to the imminent challenges posed by climate conditions.


An artists’ tour in English and in Estonian will take place on Saturday, January 27 at 2pm.


The exhibition is on view from January 26 to August 4, 2024.


Opening on January 25 from 6–8pm.


Exhibition is curated by Karin Laansoo and Anna Mustonen.


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


A selection of press photos can be found here.