Q&A with Antti Laitinen

Antti Laitinen (b. 1975) is participating in the 55th International Art Exhibition in Venice this summer. He is exhibiting in the Finnish Aalto pavilion, and KUNSTforum asked him some questions about his art and what inspires him.

The Finnish Aalto pavilion. Photo: Mika Elo

The Finnish Aalto pavilion. Photo: Mika Elo

Can tell us about your exhibition at the Aalto pavilion?
I am showing several works, one of which is documentation of a new project. It is called Forest Square. In this, I have chopped down a 10 x 10 meter big piece of forest in Finland and sorted it all into different materials: soil, moss, wood, pines, etc. The forest was rebuilt in Finland and arranged by colour. The piece of forest has excactly the same size as it had in the forest, where it once was. It is sort of a forest reorganized.

The Aalto pavilion, installation view. Photo: Mika Elo

The Aalto pavilion, installation view. Photo: Mika Elo

Can you describe your work process from idea to work?
It is not really about a start and an end, it is more about the process. In everything I do, the process is the important thing. I tend to want to build something, or attempt to build something, in my projects.

This is evident in another piece I am showing at the Aalto pavilion. In It’s my Island, a video documentation, I’m building my own island in the Baltic Sea by dragging two hundred sand bags into the water over a period of three months – using nothing but a spade, sand and sacks – until the island starts to appear over the water. This is a long process, building something. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a fail or success, I’m more concerned with the process.

Antti Laitinen, 'It's My Island VI (2007) ® The Artist

Antti Laitinen, ‘It’s My Island VI (2007) ® The Artist

In another project, also part of the exhibition, I have brought some birch trees, cut into logs. These are reassembled in the pavilion, with nails and hammer, ending up looking a bit like Frankenstein-trees. The last tree will be reassembled during a performance in the pavilion on Thursday 30th May.

What are your main influences when creating a work of art?I don’t know, I don’t really have that many influences. Except Monty Python, on some level they have really influenced me. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a thing for the absurdity and quirky humour. My projects may start out as serious, but they’ll often end up being humorous on some ways.

Antti Laitinen, 'Forest square' (2013), work in progress.

Antti Laitinen, ‘Forest square’ (2013), work in progress.

What about artists or exhibition, any sources of inspirations there?
Maybe not so much, no.

How about in literature, any writers, fiction or theory, that may have inspired you?
There’s one, a Russian writer and novelist, Daniil Kharms (1905–1942). He wrote short-stories and fiction, and again there’s that absurd humour I’m drawn towards.

Why is art important?
Is it? I don’t know, I’m just doing it. I like to think it’s important to some, and to me it is important.

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