The word “Polis” comes from the Greek language, meaning city or an entity composed of citizens. In the video Polis X (2012) Nissinen constructs a “kaleidoscope of human destinies” that reference the ancient Greek ideal of the city-state. Instead of depicting a perfected state of utopian community, the viewer is confronted by the obscene historical traces of mankind’s inhumanity.
The cast ranges from a plumber and a bear to porn actors and even politicians. They possess grotesque names like “Stupid Cunt”, “Pig Shit Tit Ass Sailor” and “Boring Fuck”. All inhabitants are in some way confronted with their ethical and moral position in the social construction which makes up Polis. They have to make choices about methods of interaction with other inhabitants, and decide if they want to communicate with them at all. How are groups formed, who will be excluded, and for what reason? Other inhabitants philosophize about completely different matters, like the connection between platonic solids and human characteristics, living in the now, the question about being, and the paralyzing power of the presence of unlimited possibilities.
Though absurd to the point of nonsense and often obscene, Nissinen’s work is far from being meaningless. Rather, it discloses a critical take on the difficulties of social interaction, on philosophy, and on the language of media -such as children’s television, educational programs, or porn, often all mashed up into one. In Polis al these come together, using parody and slapstick comedy to create awareness about current political trends, social interaction and social issues.
Erkka Nissinen was born in 1975 in Finland and currently lives and works in Helsinki, Hong Kong and Amsterdam. He has studied in The Slade School of Fine Art in London and gained an MFA degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, Finland in 2001. In 2007 he went to Rijksakademie art residency in Amsterdam. His works have been exhibited internationally, for example in Ellen de Bruijne Project Space in Amsterdam, Smart Projects Space in Amsterdam, Helsinki City Art Museum’s Kluuvin Gallery.
During Amsterdam Art Weekend (November 29th – December 2nd 2012), there will be a new perfomance by Erkka Nissinen at Ellen de Bruijne Projects. Performance: 1 December during Amsterdam Art Weekend
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