Elina Brotherus Interview: Only in Art Can Adults Play


“I’m always curious to see what things look like – through the eye the craziest things can happen.” In this video, Elina Brotherus – who ranks among Finland’s leading artists – shares her thoughts behind a new series of playful video works, where she re-enacts famous instructions from prominent Fluxus artists.

“I have a 20-year tradition of using myself as a model in my works.” Brotherus feels that her aesthetic has remained the same throughout her career, but that the autobiographical element is no longer present: “I’m just using myself as a performer on a stage.” This came about when she found herself stuck in the photographic work and began using the so-called event scores of the Fluxus movement (developed in the 1960s). These event scores give instructions, which encourage other artists to perform the piece in their own way, hence making it their own. Brotherus likes the idea of getting assignments and “a helping hand” from her predecessors of art history – “teachers from this self-invented art school.” She feels she appropriates the pieces into her own creative material: “They’re like a trigger for me to do what I know how to do best – which is to be both in front and behind the camera.” Moreover, Brotherus is attracted to the weirdness of what she is doing: “You can do the strangest things with a completely deadpan aesthetic – there’s no laughing in front of the camera although you would like to – and then it’s up to the spectator to accept it.” The Finnish artist compares this to the seriousness with which children approach playing: “Art is the only occupation where adults can continue playing.” In connection to this, she explains why one of her mottos is ‘Why not?’: “Why are you doing these silly things? Because I can. Why not? Let’s see what it looks like when I throw the lemons in the forest…”

Elina Brotherus (b. 1972) is a Finnish artist who works with photography and video. Her works alternate between autobiographical and art-historical approaches – always with Brotherus herself as the model. Brotherus is the recipient of prestigious awards including the Carte blanche PMU (2017), the Finnish State Prize for Photography (2008) and the Prix Niépce (2005). Her work has been given prominence in numerous art and photography books and magazines and is held in public collections including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Saatchi Collection in London, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk and MAXXI in Rome. For more see: http://www.elinabrotherus.com/

Elina Brotherus was interviewed by Christian Lund in at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark in June 2019 in connection with her exhibition ‘Elina Brotherus – Playful Wanderer’ at Sorø Kunstmuseum in Sorø, Denmark.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard

Edited by: Rasmus Quistgaard

Produced by: Christian Lund

Cover photo: Cropped version of ‘Baloon Dash’ (2017) by Elina Brotherus. Courtesy of the artist

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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