Mika Taanila

Ars Fennica 2015

Mika Taanila made numerous experimental music videos in the 1990s. His subsequent films occupy the intermediate terrain between experimental and documentary. History is always present in his works, and their elements consist of copious amounts of found and archive material. The various futurist utopias, each of their own time, fascinate Taanila in their impossibility. Others of his documentary films deal with people who are passionately dedicated to what they do, such as the pioneer of electronic art Erkki Kurenniemi, or Ashprihanal Pekka Aalto, who has found a purpose in life in meditative running. Scientific processes and exploration of the impacts of technology give rise to video and sound installations in which the main parts are disparate chains of mechanical events. In his experimental short films, in keeping with the avant-garde tradition, Taanila focuses attention on various disturbances, errors and irregularities. They develop into idiosyncratic wholes, in which the marks of time and sound play an important role. Taanila’s artistic working process brings to mind the explorer who tirelessly investigates the layers of the past, and their significance for current reality.

Leena Kuumola

Born 1965 in Helsinki
Lives and works in Helsinki


Studies in anthropology, Department of Culture Studies, University of Helsinki
Diploma in Crafts and Design, Institute of Design and Fine Arts, Lahti, Finland

Filmography, selection

SSEENNSSEESS, 2013, 55’, 2 x 16 mm + HD
Black and White Movies, 2013, series of 16 photograms, pigment print
My Silence, 2013, 15’, video
Six Day Run, 2013, 15’, DCP
The Most Electrified Town in Finland, 2012, 15’, 3 x HD video
Man and Science, 2011, 1’, 16 mm
Twilight, 2010, 6’, 2 x video
Sommerreise, 2006, 3’, 16 mm
The Zone of Total Eclipse, 2006, 6’, 2×16 mm
Verbranntes Land, 2002, 7’, video
Optical Sound, 2005, 6’, 35 mm
Stimulus Progression, 2005, 4’ DVD + CD
Future Is Not What It Used To Be, 2002, 52’, 35 mm
A Physical Ring, 2002, 4’, 35 mm
RoboCup99, 2000, 25’, 35 mm
Futuro – A New Stance for Tomorrow, 1998, 28’, 35 mm
Pori, 1998, 35’, 3 x 16mm, live music by Circle
Thank You for the Music – A Film about Muzak, 1997, 27’, 35 mm

Solo exhibitions

Time Machines, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, -2014
My Silence, Forum Box, Helsinki
Tomorrow’s New Dawn, CAM, Museum of Contemporary Art, St. Louis, USA
The Most Electrified Town in Finland, TENT, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Installaatioita, Galleria Heino, Helsinki
On the Spot #4, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany
Zone d’éclipse totale, Dazibao, Centre de photographies actuelles, Montréal, Canada
Lost and Found, together with Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium, -2007 catalogue
Valotuksia / Exposures, Galleria Heino, Helsinki
Une histoire saccadée, together with Erkki Kurenniemi, Institut Finlandais, Paris
Human Engineering, Migrosmuseum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich, Switzerland catalogue
Hotel Futuro, Spacex Gallery, Exeter, UK
The Future Is Not What It Used To Be, HTTP:// Gallery, London, UK
A Physical Ring, Kontti, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki

Group exhibitions, selection

Society Acts. The Moderna Exhibition, Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden, -2015
Parallax, Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, Mexico
Post Script, De Gouvernestraat, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
A Group Exhibition of Artists’ Films, Carroll / Fletcher, London
Systemics #3. Against the idea of growth, towards poetry (or, how to build a universe that doesn’t fall apart two days later), Kunsthal Århus, Denmark
Schriftfilme, ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Germany, -2014
Vilkettä ja tajunnanvirtaa, Kerava Art Museum, Finland
Aichi Triennial, Nagoya, Japan
Social Videoscapes from the North Looking to the World and Vice versa, Elverket, Tammisaari, Finland
Systemics Series #1 Certain peculiar things and ideas, often failed, or on humans, machines,
and running algorithms, Kunsthal Århus, Denmark
dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany
Architektonika, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, -2012
La chanson, Sevilla Museum of Contemporary Art, Spain,
Arctic Hysteria: TranceStates, Visions, and Hallucinations in Contemporary Finnish Art
Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art, Vaasa
DA2 Domus Artium 2002, Salamanca, Spain
Kunsthalle Helsinki,
Ludwig Museum, Budapest
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, USA
Des usages de la technologie, Quatre artistes finlandais, Espace multimédia Gantner, Bourgogne, France
New Stance for Tomorrow, Sketch Gallery, London
Image and After, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, -2009
Wäinö Aaltonen Art Museum, Turku, Finland
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, USA, -2008
Eclipse, RAM gallery as a part of the IFF Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Dreamlands Burn, Mücsarnok, Budapest, Hungary, -2007
Ear Appeal, Kunsthalle Wien
Shanghai Biennial, China
Thank You for the Music, Gallery Sprüth Magers Lee, London
Lustforlife, The Breeder Gallery, Athens
Tracking the Traces, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montréal, Canada
Music for People, Dundee Center for Contemporary Art, UK
Thank You for the Music, Gallery Sprüth Magers Lee, Munich, Germany, -2006
South Karelia Art Museum, Lappeenranta, Finland
Capacete Entretenimentos,
Escola de Cinema e Audiovisual Darcy Ribeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires – MAMbA, Argentina
Museo de Arte de Lima, Peru
Lönnström Art Museum, Rauma, Finland
Electrohype, The 3rd Nordic Biennial for Computer Based and High Tech Art
Malmö Art Hall, Sweden
Gothenburg Art Museum, Sweden
Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, Yerevan
Situations construites, Attitudes, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Switzerland
Ipeg.image.sound.machine, Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin
Heavy Snowflakes, Exteresa Space for Contemporary Art, Mexico City
Gokann, The 109th Exhibition of Finnish Artists / The Fourth Triennale
Kunsthalle Helsinki
Kyoto Art Center, Japan
3rd Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Prosessi / Process, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki
SonarMatica 10 Years, Sonar, International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Arts, Barcelona, Spain
Prophetic Corners, The 6th Periferic Biennial
Polytechnic Museum, Iasi, Romania
Transparente: interni e esterni, Centro Nazionale per le Arti Contemporanee, Rome
Media City 9, Artcite Inc. Gallery, Ontario, Canada
2002-03 Todos somos pecadores, Arte Nórdico Contemporáneo
Museo de Arté Contemporáneo, Monterrey, Mexico
Museo Tamayo, Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City
Popcorn and Politics, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki
Radar, Tyco Brahe Planetarium, Copenhagen
Animation: videos, Centre d’édition contemporaine, Genève, Switzerland
Ars Electronica / Cyberarts 2002, O.K. Centrum für Gegenwartskunst, Linz, Austria
Viva Helsinki, Sonar, International Festival of Advanced Music and Multimedia Arts, Barcelona, Spain
Manifesta 4, European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Whirlpool and Surfaces, Art Moscow, Central House of Artists
The 7th International Istanbul Biennial, Turkey
Voltti, Rauma Art Museum, Finland
Entropy in the Living Room, Stadtgalerie Kiel, Germany
Les Années Pop, Centre Pompidou, Paris
Vision & Reality, Louisiana, Danmark, -2001
Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria
Media Art Fest, St Petersburg, Russia
The Future Is Now!, Stockholm Art Fair / 1% Artspace
Ektroverde@Galleria Kari Kenetti, Helsinki
Alien Intelligence, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki
The Day of the Donkey Day, Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland


Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan
Migrosmuseum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich, Switzerland
Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki
State art collection
Kuopio Art Museum, Finland
Pro Artibus Foundation, Finland
Private collections in Finland and Germany

Charles Eschen’s statement

Mika Taanila’s works are the most convincing of all the candidates for their full realization of his ideas. He has worked with extraordinary commitment, as well as political and social awareness, to produce video works that are both documents of a time and place and expressive vehicles for ideas about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ society. Mika tackles some of the fundamental questions in a social democratic European society in terms of conformism, tolerance and the power of the state. He does so in ways that are never rhetorical or abstract but concrete and particular. Through his work, viewers have the opportunity to observe how society comes to its collective opinions and why that matters.

It has been a hard choice to make as all the candidates have particular qualities and reasons why it would make sense to ward them the prize. In the end, however, I have chosen to award the Ars Fennica to the artist who in my opinion has the most fully developed body of work in which the intentions of the works have been brought closest to realisation. For that ultimately overriding reason, I would like to award the prize to Mika Taanila.