2019 MAY–JUN

Artist Camilla Vuorenmaa thinks with her hands

Installation view to Camilla Vuorenmaa’s painting installation Chamber, 2017, at the Ars Fennica nominee exhibition in Kiasma October 2017 – February 2018. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

Camilla Vuorenmaa creates works that evade categorization, falling somewhere between painting, sculpture, and installation. The artist will spend May – June 2019 in residency in New York, familiarizing herself with the Spiritualist movement’s history and conducting interviews in preparation for a new body of work.

Camilla Vuorenmaa, Roses, Painting and carving on wood, height 160 cm width 120 cm, 2018. Photo: Jussi Tiainen.

Camilla Vuorenmaa prefers to spend time in places and communities previously unfamiliar to her. Her latest solo exhibition Roses, Black Birds and Witches at Helsinki Contemporary, for instance, was based on a yearlong stay in Glasgow. The series of works explored Scottish superstitions and urban legends. During her residency period in New York City, Vuorenmaa aims to draw inspiration from the history of the Spiritualist movement that started in the state of New York in the mid 1800’s.

“I am going to interview practitioners and professionals of a variety of occupations. I am interested in exploring the ways they perceive the future, and whether they feel an influence of the Spiritualist movement in their lives. The idea of how we sometimes need to ask questions that may not have answers fascinates me. On the basis of these interviews I will create a series of spatial paintings through which the audience can “look into the future”. “

Vuorenmaa is fascinated by the different sides of human behavior.  She focuses on contrasting everyday encounters between people; exploring personal experiences of separation as well as blending in. In recent years her artistic work has focused on exploring various depictions of occupations.

View to Camilla Vuorenmaa’s exhibition Roses, Black Birds and Witches on Helsinki Contemporary in 2019. Works: Little blue, Painting and carving on wood, height 120 cm width 120 cm, 2018, and Witch 2, Painting and carving on wood, height 160 cm width 60 cm, 2018. Photo: Jussi Tiainen.

The element of unpredictability is always present when working with wood. Furthermore, carving wood requires a lot of bodily strength, especially since Vuorenmaa’s works tend to be large in scale.

“Wood interests me because it’s so challenging to work with. It’s a living material that reacts to moisture and light, and can be both soft and hard. Also, depending on what kind of climate the wood comes from, it always reacts differently. I enjoy the fact that I can never be completely in control of the material.”

Instead of simply creating objects for display, Vuorenmaa emphasizes the process and puts value on the performative and often deeply intuitive sides of her working methods.  

“The physical process of creation is very important to me because I think with my hands, too. I sometimes notice myself working without even being aware of what I’m reaching for. I feel what I have to do next, and then it just happens.”

Installation view of Camilla Vuorenmaa’s Chamber at Kiasma, 2017. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen.