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First shown in: Galerie Anhava, Helsinki, 29 March – 22 April 2001

Anne Koskinen’s latest works are self-portraits. They belong to the tradition in painting, where the artist depicts his or her own likeness in mirror image. Because the works are bronze, however, and thus closer to sculpture than painting, they call into question the nature of painting and sculpture alike.

And no wonder, for Koskinen continues to develop the themes of her exhibition Sculpture in Galerie Artek in 1998. In Artek too the works were sculptures made of paintings by other artists. This time Koskinen presents us with self-portraits quite her own. But even in this exhibition, she links otherness firmly with her work. She does it through the experience of being looked upon, as well as the onlooker.

The conceptual background of Koskinen’s work is a quite literal view of self-reflection. The works bring to mind the bronze mirrors of ancient Greeks, and they are also a thematic representation of the narcissism of self-portraiture. Koskinen’s self-portraits also reveal the audience’s desire to see their own face. Standing in front of one of the self-portraits, the spectator may see him or herself instead of Koskinen.

When Koskinen is absent, so is her image. She calls into question the representativeness of images, because an image is present only in the presence of the subject of the image. It disappears like the image of Narcissus on the surface of the pond the very moment one does not look at it and guard it.

Koskinen guards her own image by burnishing. In fact here self-portrait is also the result of burnishing. The title and costume of a valedictorian lend an institutional glamour to Koskinen polishing her image, a glamour which is nevertheless questioned by the distorting self-portraits. The process of creating the works is an important part of the meaning of the entire exhibition, and the act of burnishing can also be seen as a performance. And indeed, Koskinen continues burnishing her own image also during the exhibition.

See also: Helsinki City Art Museum exhibition information, Anne Koskinen – Familie Koskinen, Helsinki City Art Museum Tennis Palace, Helsinki, Finland, 28 November 2008 – 25 January 2009. suomeksi/på svenska/in english

Thanks to: Arts Council of Finland, Finnish Cultural Foundation

Collections: Swedish State / Swedish Embassy, Washington, DC, USA, Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland, Rovaniemi Art Museum, Wihuri Foundation, Rovaniemi, Finland, private collections, the artist’s collection