Maija Blåfield

Ars Fennica candidate 2017

Memories are true

Maija Blåfield is a documentarist. She collects, saves and preserves. Her works are a collection of private memories, each one unique and exclusive to the artist. No one can claim they are false, because memories are always true.

As we look at Blåfield’s works, we are easily lured into a game orchestrated by the artist. As we watch the narrative unfold, frame by frame, our suspicions are gradually awakened. Perhaps we are being told a lie: perhaps we aren’t really seeing a sequence of memories unfolding, but rather a cunningly scripted fabrication. The footage always bears witness to something having occurred. Although it is difficult to form a grasp of what has really happened, we are ultimately still dealing with a document. The events that unfold cannot be relegated to the category of pure fiction.

The salient question is not whether the memories on screen are a credible reflection of reality. The key issue is whether they are actually memories or merely images scripted as memories. Blåfield presents us with metanarratives. Her films elicit the same kind of pleasure as the satisfaction of storytelling. Her works are a modern-day sequel to the stories told around campfires before the birth of the written word. The viewer is cast in the role of the listener: we are transported to a borderland somewhere between document and fiction, and we alone are responsible for our interpretation.

Blåfield is a media artist. Her chief medium is video, yet she represents a breed of contemporary artist that constantly pushes the boundaries between different genres. Her works can justifiably be defined as experimental film, yet they also represent a new type of documentary. For exhibition audiences, they are rather long, yet even a brief snippet can offer much. Details of form are integrally linked to the content, and their appreciation does not necessitate a complete start-to-finish viewing experience. In any case, her works possess a magnetic intensity that coaxes us to watch the whole film through to its conclusion. Blåfield’s style of narrative is like a lullaby that hypnotizes us; we happily drift off in its soothing embrace. We believe the story will keep going long after the soundtrack fades in our ears.

In addition to reflecting on issues of form, Blåfield’s key themes are documentation and the preservation of memories. Is there any sense in continually carrying around a camera? What is the special value of recorded material? Does reality have intrinsic value when it is stripped down to pure images, or does it acquire value only after it is presented, interpreted and narrated to us? Blåfield poses these questions, yet without offering definitive answers. The ball is in the viewer’s court. The viewer can choose to be indifferent and immune to the seductive charms of the narrative, but then they lose the game. When pleasure is the prize, the winners are those who permit themselves a small indulgence.

Blåfield’s ability to see the story behind the event allows us to see a real and intriguing world without recorded footage intervening as the focus of the narrative.

Blåfield is a storyteller. She shares, narrates and creates. Her works are contemporary fairy-tales. Each detail is the private possession of the artist, no matter where it might have originated. Every memory is true, every memory is a story, and every story is ultimately a memory.

Veikko Halmetoja

Translated by Silja Kudel

Maija Blåfield, Tuhoutumisesta ja säilyttämisestä
On Destruction and Preservation, 2017
Film Projection
Tuhoutumisesta ja säilyttämisestä
On Destruction and Preservation, 2017
Film Projection
Maija Blåfield, Tuhoutumisesta ja säilyttämisestä 3
On Destruction and Preservation, 2017
Film Projection
Maija Blåfield, Tuhoutumisesta ja säilyttämisestä 4
On Destruction and Preservation, 2017
Film Projection

b. 1973

Art education

1998-2004 Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki MFA
1994-1997 Tampere School of Art And Media BA
2004-2005 Scripwriters course at YLE

Exhibitions, film screenings and other public presentations

2016
Moving Image Art Fair, New York, USA
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Durham, NC, USA

2015
DOCPOINT Helsinki Documentary Film Festival (Premiere for Golden Age)
Brooklyn Film Festival, New York, USA
Huesca 43rd International Film Festival, Spain
Oberhausen International Film Festival, Germany
EMAF 28th European Media Art Festival, Osnabruck, Germanya
HLEF Helsinki Short Film Festival, Helsinki
Love and Anarchy Film Festival, Helsinki
Artova Film Festival, Helsinki

2014
Golden Age 1-6 (Solo) The Museum of Photography, Helsinki
Nine Lives Museum (groupshow), Gallery Sinne /Pro Artibus, Helsinki
Nine Lives Museum Guidebook (editor and writer), Gallery Sinne /Pro Artibus, Helsinki
Matters of Time (groupshow), Frankfurter Kunstverein (in collaboration with Frankfurt Bookfair), Germany
Documentary film Print and Rescue about the pilot project of Checkpoint Helsinki
Love and Anarchy Film Festival, Helsinki

2013
Seoul, Seoul, Seoul (groupshow), Changdong Studio/ National Museum of Contemporary Art of Korea, Soul
Talouselämä | Financial Times (groupshow), Mustarinda, Hyrynsalmi, Finland
Stranger, (groupshow), Gallery Loop, Soul, South Korea
Valon houkutus, Annual exhibition of Photography, Lahti Art Museum, Finland

2012
Soloshow at Gallery Huuto Uudenmaankatu, Helsinki
I See (groupshow), Studio 44, Stockholm, Sweden
Löytäjä saa pitää, Mänttä Art Festival, Mänttä, Finland
Aaargh! 10 vuotta myöhemmin (groupshow) Galleria Huuto Jätkäsaari L3, Helsinki

2011
Beautiful (solo), Photographic Gallery Hippolyte Studio, Helsinki
Greetings from Another Side, (groupshow), Galleria Huuto Uudenmaankatu, Helsinki
28th Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Saksa
Media City Festival, Windsor, ON, Kanada

– 2010 (Selection)
Groupshow at AtelierFrankfurt, Frankfurt Am Main, Saksa (2010)
Festart08, (groupshow), Tampere Film Festival, Tampere (2008)
Sight Album (artist’s book) S.M.A.K Museum of Contemporary Art of Gent, Belgium (2007)
when the Heavens Fall…remake (solo) KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art (2007)
Fantasiy (solo) Kluuvi Gallery / Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki (2007)
Sight (solo), Helsinki Kunsthalle Studio (2007)
Mänttä Art Festival, Mänttä (2007)
Wild Men in the Looking Glass (groupshow), Art 2102, Los Angeles, USA
Saving the World (documentary film) produced by Kinotar (2005) (Screened ia. at YLE1, Werklietz Biennale, S.M.A.K Museum, DokumentART Neubranderburg, MadeInVideo Kopenhagen, Belfort International Film Festival Entre Vues, Nordic Glory, Fondazione Pesaro Nuovo Cinema)
Suspend Disbelief, Sparwasser HQ, Berliini (2005)
Maija Blåfield’s Lost and Found Office (solo) Galleria Huuto Viiskulma, Helsinki (2005)
Pieni taivas – Nuorten biennaali (groupshow)Helsingin Taidehalli (2005)
Elämälle kiitos! retrospektiivi, Kuvataideakatemia (2003)
Suomen taiteilijain 108. näyttely Nuoret 03 (groupshow), Taidehalli, Helsinki (2003)
Olinpaikkaan liittyviä asioita Mältinrannan taidekeskus, Tampere (2003)

Prizes and awards

Critic’s choise, DOCPOINT Helsinki Documentary Film Festival (2015)
The Finnish State Prize for Media Arts (2014)
Main Prize for ARTdocumentary, MadeInVideo Festival, Kööpenhamina, Denmark (2006)
Audience’s Choise Documentary, Entrevues Festival du Film Belfort, France (2006)
Main Prize Arktisen Upeeta elokuvafestivaalin kilpailusarjassa (2005)
Mecenaes -kilta Prize, Nuoret 03 exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki (2003)

Artist’s residencies

Finnish Cultural Institute of New York(2015)
MMCA Chandong, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea, Soul, South Korea (2013)
City of Frankfurt, Germany (collaboration with HIAP) (2010)
Villa Karo, Benin, West Africa (2007)
AIR Antverpen, Belgium (collaboration with HIAP/Frame) (2006)