for anytime

in all languages

Material spaces inner conditions hr1

Erkka Nissinen & Nathaniel Mellors

Erkka Nissinen and Nathaniel Mellors received unanimous praise at the Venice Biennale for their absurd and radical installation The Aalto Natives. The Finnish contribution to the Biennale is now showing in the Cobra Museum; artistic director Xander Karskens talks about the work of the two artists. EYE presents several of their films, some of which have not been screened before in the Netherlands.

Polis xhr1

Artnet News trumpeted: “If it sounds bonkers, that's because it is – in the best possible way”. And the respectable Die Welt judged that “our stubborn allegiance to religion and progress gets an immensely entertaining beating”. The very positive reception of The Aalto Natives at the Venice Biennale goes to shows that social commitment doesn”t always have to be served up as ponderous and humourless stuff.

Tonight Xander Karskens, curator of the Finnish pavilion at the Venice Biennale, talks about the work and inspiration of Erkka Nissinen (1975) and Nathaniel Mellors (1974). Using satire and humour to add a twist to pressing social issues, the artists avoid the castigating moralistic tone of much of the socially committed art. At the same time, their video work features a layered visual language and contains numerous social-political references. How do they do it?

uncouth caveman

EYE screens Mellors” The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview (2017, 22'); Nissinen”s Polis X (2012, 26”27”), Rigid Regime (2012, 13”17”) and Tilaa Massa (2013, 15”29”).In the absurdist The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview a Neanderthaler turns the tables on a prejudiced journalist who”s come to interview him. The predecessor of homo sapiens even turns out to be a lot smarter than his interviewer and overthrows the journalist”s easy assumptions about the Neanderthaler as an uncouth caveman.

surrealist mincemeat

In his video work Erkka Nissinen (1975) nimbly treads the line between genuine earnestness and sprightly awkwardness. Nissinen”s work is marked by an inventive DIY approach – he uses HD video and 3D computer animation. He”s also a master of effortlessly weaving philosophical themes into deadpan situations. His films have the power to undercut everybody and everything. What to think of an armless outsider, who arrives by helicopter to offer “inspiration” to a local community (Rigid Regime)? Or an exploration of the less palatable sentiments in the ancient Greek city-state, the polis, once the ideal of early civilization (Polis X)?

Nissinen makes surrealist mincemeat of assumptions, ideas and historical reality. Tilaa Massa (Material Conditions – Inner Spaces, 15”29”) is a pure slapstick comedy about three men bred on Marx who want to change the world. They end up singing and seeking their inner self.

A collaboration with the CoBrA Museum.

This is part of


Part of

Eye on Art

Eye on Art is a programme on the intersection between film and other arts. Eye on Art keeps up with current events, with presentations on contemporary artists and programmes that coincide with important exhibitions, manifestations and Eye activities.

Learn more
still from Cloacinae Serge Onnen & Sverre Fredriksen, NL 2017)
Rigid regime 2hr
Material spaces inner conditions hr2