On April 14th the BBC reported: Gnome shortage: Lockdown and Suez canal blockage blamed. This news gave inspiration for the piece Gnommunion. In the video three garden gnomes called Atticus, Octavius and Caesar decide to abandon the yards they are guarding and escape. First they are baffled by the sudden freedom and amount of choices. In an amphitheatre they lastly decide to form a new communion just for gnomes and disappear from this world. The video was shot on an iPhone using three, scanned 3D models as animated AR objects.
In my artistic praxis I’m interested in myths and beliefs being commercialized and turned into objects of mass production. Gnommunion reflects this phenomena in a middle class communion where the humanlike decorations have become very popular during lockdowns. The selection of this particular subject was influenced by the traveling gnome concept that Henry Sunderland started while he was travelling around Antarctica in the 1970s.
Roses and Thorns2019
Actors: William Ashford, Tomi Hakasalo, Ella Jäntti, Markus Jäntti, Nelli Jäntti-Tuominen, Panu Tikka
Concept: Markus Jäntti
Co-writer: Tomi Hakasalo
Camera: Joni Hakasalo
Music and sound design: Nelli Jäntti-Tuominen
A quote from the book Unicorn Stories (Finnish Institute in Germany, 2020):
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 understands 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 beinga 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 by Tamerlane Camden-Dunne