Icons

Review in the newspaper Keskisuomalainen on Sunday 13th April 2008:

Contemporary Icons Out of Plastic Bags

One of the goals of an artist is to portray what he sees around himself. The means to see and to express what one saw, however, have varied considerably. One of the means is to approach the target in an exploratory manner, to dismantle it and put it back together in a different way in order to evoke understanding.

For some time food packages and the philosophy created by them have been the subject of investigation for Minna Soraluoma, Tampere-based artist. With various textile methods, she sets up iconostases of consumer society using, among other things, grocery bags, bread wraps, frozen food packings and cheese wrappings.

As the present-day becomes more and more individually packed, Soraluoma won’t suffer from lack of material. Just the opposite – she takes advantage of the slogans in the packages and weaves them into her work. She guides her audience from the supermarket freeze box to attend the grand tour around the world, and from the bread shelves to the secrets of image marketing.

The utilization of everyday packages in art pieces comments the contemporary demand for fast and easy living. The working methods have the same effect. Taken laboriously and slowly to pieces, cut to strips and then crocheted back to the same shape the grocery bag converts to a similar but smaller version of itself. Plenty of working hours have passed by during this transformation.

Comparing the time and quantity of material the result may also surprise. Bread wrappings used by one family in one month transform to small decoratively meandering pieces influenced by a tree of life motif. A kind of archaeology of everyday life reveals what is included in the diet of a given family and how loyal this family is to certain products, all in the form of an art piece.

Also, humorous tones are generated, when the message and the illustration of the packages charmingly conflict with the way food is actually produced. Harvest in a cornfield with sickles depicted in a national romantic style dates to times one century ago. Neither are potatoes cropped with hoes anymore, at least not to be packed into plastic bags. But these scenes are still valid national images for the products.

Commenting in Minna Soraluoma’s work is not restricted to the message conveyed by the used material. Also, working methods carry meanings. Textile methods, as well as groceries, belong to the realm of craft, home and female life. As in contemporary art in general, the contrast with art conceived as traditional forms part of the contents of her art pieces.

Moreover, when naming her art pieces Soraluoma employs references to concepts and slogans of various art theories. Less is More, Nature Morte, Pastorale and Iconostasis agree excellently with the format controlled by a crochet hook and a bread pouch.

ELINA PURANEN