Finnish artist Salla Tykkä (born Helsinki, 1973) is known for photographs and videos with historically and psychologically charged narratives. Her dramatically edited footage plays with cinematic structures and is often set to familiar, grandiose film scores. Since 2008, Tykkä has been completing a trilogy of films: Victoria 2008, Airs Above the Ground 2010 and, most recently, Giant 2013, which has been co-commissioned by BALTIC. The Palace comprises an installation featuring all three works and is the first exhibition to bring them together. It also marks the international premiere of Giant.
The three videos may be seen as experimental documentaries on three personal subjects of beauty, each informed by the colour white. Victoria, a time lapse of the blossoming giant water lily of the same name, documents the plan’s life cycle as it unfurls its petals in the dark, changing colour from pure white to a red hue. The plant tells the story of European colonialism in the 19th century and, within its beauty, hides the human need for power and domination. Airs Above the Ground focuses on the Lipizzan horse, the oldest extant pedigree breed in Europe. Born with dark coats, the horses gradually turn white over the course of their lives. Developed in the 16th century with the support of the Habsburg monarchy which ruled both Austria and Spain, the breed became closely associated with the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Tykkä’s film explores the uncertain line between nature and culture.
Giant evolved from interviews Tykkä made in Deva, Romania, with seven national junior team gymnasts and two of their trainers.The film explores training centres the gymnasts inhabit since 1960s until today. These images are interrupted by archive materials from the very same locations and fragments of the interviews. Tykkä offers gymnastic culture and its aesthetics as a relic from the era of dictatorship in Romania.