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Sirkku Ketola: A Body Called Paula

Exhibit dates: September 9 – October 14, 2022

Opening reception: Thursday, September 15th, 7:00-8:30 pm

Performance dates and titles: 
Friday, September 9th, 12:00-2:30 pm: Light
Monday, September 12th, 12:00-2:30 pm: Passion
Tuesday, September 13th, 12:00-2:30 pm: Knowledge
Wednesday, September 14th, 12:00-2:30 pm: Darkness
Finnish Artist Sirkku Ketola, photo by Caron M

HANCOCK, MI “ Finlandia University Gallery will present A Body Called Paula, an installation that mixes screen printing and performance by Finnish artist Sirkku Ketola at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC), Hancock from September 9  to October 14, 2022.

Sirkku Ketola will be performing in the Finlandia University Gallery on September 9,12, 13 and 14th  beginning at noon for 2.5 hours per day. The performances are titled Light, Passion, Knowledge and Darkness.

 An opening reception for the artist will take place at the gallery, Thursday, September 15th, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. with an artist talk beginning at 7:20 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Part installation, part performance, A Body Called Paula in an art piece that develops in the gallery over four days of long-duration screen printing sessions.  With the themes of time, temporality, pleasure and the meditative process of working, Finnish artist Sirkku Ketola hand prints patterned imagery on long, fragile ribbons of paper.  Watching the performance, the viewer observes the pure physicality of art making, while the process creates a sensual mix of visual ornament and rhythmic sound.  The four performance sessions, titled Light, Passion, Knowledge, and Darkness symbolize the elements of a full life.

A Body Called Paula, 2017-2027, site-specific durational performance and installation. Photos taken by Katri Saarela (From Suomenlinna, Helsinki, May 2022).€œMy character Paula is simultaneously enraptured and trapped (in Finnish there is a sentence with both meanings, derived from the word “paula” which is also a ribbon), says Ketola.”œShe is a metaphor of a small human in the cosmos.  The name Paula comes originally from the Greek name Paulus, which means small.  So my Paula works with paula, with her special ribbon.  Her job is to communicate visually by printing a repeating and overwhelmingly beautiful ornament.  She wanders globally and communicates the beauty she sees.”

The physical conditions of the gallery space affect the artistic process and the performance is physically demanding for the artist.  €œThe strength of the hands and the exactness of the eyes, are sensing constantly the fragility, stretching, moistening and drying of the paper, and the consistency and volume of the ink,” says Ketola. œ”The site-specific humidity and temperature strongly affect the functioning of the paper/color/body formed sensual machine.”

A Body Called Paula, 2017-2027, site-specific durational performance and installation. Photos taken by Katri Saarela (From Suomenlinna, Helsinki, May 2022).

Ketola has chosen a long and fragile paper for her project, with the ribbon of paper rolling past her hands many times during each performance.  This process demands a humility towards the materials, giving up tight control in preference of losing control and responding to the flow of the interaction between artist, materials and space.

“Maybe the greatest thing is that the ribbon still surprises me, even though I have been working with the same materials for years, says Ketola.”The major errors have been avoided, but the danger of errors are constantly present-everything can be irreversibly spoiled even in the last round of printing.”

Ketola’s art practice is informed by her Finnish heritage including her love of nature, silence, perseverance (sisu) and the honor of work and passion.

A Body Called Paula, 2017-2027, site-specific durational performance and installation. Photos taken by Ari Pelkonen (From Suomenlinna, Helsinki, May 2022)

Ketola received her Master of Fine Art from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2009.  A Body Called Paula is a 10 year project that has been performed and exhibited in Finland, Latvia, Canada, Belgium, Japan, Estonia, New York City, and now Finlandia University Gallery in Hancock, Michigan.  It will continue to be performed in international locations until 2027.

A Body Called Paula will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery through October 14, 2022.

The Finlandia University Gallery is located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock.  Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm. Please call 906-487-7500 or email for more information.