Markus Jäntti-Tuominen

And the past comes alive again for a visit

This book is published on the occasion of the video art work "Et le passé revit le temps d'une visite" at Schwarzsche Villa, Berlin

It all started in 2016 in the Berlin flat-share of Markus Jäntti-Tuominen and Walter Sallinen: The two UdK students were talking about how to bring visual art and composition together to create an interdisciplinary Gesamtkunstwerk. In the course of these conversations, Markus came up with Modest Mussorgsky's piano work "Pictures at an Exhibition" from 1874, in which he had reflected on a visit to a show of works by the painter Viktor Hartmann. In the project "Et le passé revit le temps d'une visite", developed from 2017 to 2022, Jäntti-Tuominen and Sallinen mirror this artistic experience by also combining visual art and music/sound -- parallel to the genesis of Mussorgsky's work. Thus, among other things, a documentary video work, an exhibition catalogue in English and German and a CD have been produced.

When brightly coloured mascots populate the Finnish Institute

On entering the Finnish Institute, you are greeted by a bright yellow bird lounging on the sofa. One might ask: What is going on here? Markus Jäntti-Tuominen, a recent graduate of the Berlin University of the Arts, is the current Visiting Artist at the Finnish Institute. His characters have leaped out of a video and now populate the institute’s premises on Berlin’s Friedrichstraße.

The centrepiece of the installation is the film titled Roses and Thorns. With the creatures in the film, which he has sewn himself, he offers a satirical attitude towards humanity. The film depicts a family consisting of a unicorn, an eagle and a baby bird. “This group is a selection of different heraldic animals. The unicorn comes from the UK, the eagle from Germany. The baby bird represents the US, as the offspring of Europe”, says Markus Jäntti-Tuominen.

The eagle which is married to the unicorn pays little attention to the wishes of the extravagant unicorn, which symbolises the trope of the artist with their desire for freedom. The eagle hardly under- stands the suffering of the unicorn and prefers to watch football.

Markus Jäntti-Tuominen has fashioned the animals in a gender-neutral style: The unicorn, a little white-pink animal, is realised with a delicate male voice. The eagle, a rather imposing, muscular figure, has a deep female voice: “In my narration in the film, I also delve into being an artist. I decided to give the unicorn this clichéd feeling of frustration at being a failed artist. So I was able to combine the parody of the image of the artist with the other symbolic elements”, says Jäntti-Tuominen.

In the film, you will not only notice clichés about monogamous marriage, but also allusions to current political issues such as the construction of a wall along the US-Mexican border, Brexit or the certain self-centredness that exists in Germany. Together with his installation ensemble, Markus Jäntti-Tuominen has created a fanciful satirical perspective on today’s world and thus also on the current political situation, which could hardly be more bizarre than it is.

– Dr Christine Nippe
Author and curator

English translation from German:
Tamerlane Camden-Dunne

Photo: Bernhard Ludewig
© Jäntti-Tuominen 2022