© 2009 Fanni Niemi-Junkola. All rights reserved.
Catalogue text for Fanni Niemi-Junkola: KOHTA – SOON, video works 1998-2005


One artist, one space, a certain point in time. Five works from different years, all in the same space and by the same artist. One exhibition, one entity, an endless amount of possibilities to accommodate oneself to what one sees and experiences. To the presence together with the mercifulness and the politicality of the everyday.

Fanni Niemi-Junkola’s exhibition is not a retrospective, although all her essential videoworks are displayed and the time perspective would enable us to look backwards. The exhibition is a curved span. It is an independent entity, where the five works place themselves next to and opposite one another.

The works in the exhibition are Giants, 1998, To Begin, 2001, Svart, 2003, Chase, 2003, and Gift, 2005. What links these works together is much more than what separates them. It takes considerably more to create an entity in which something more than just a sum of its parts can rise and be created. And this time the “more” perceived as a qualitative concept crystallizes through three concepts: the everyday, compassion and encounter.


You can relate to the everyday like to almost any other thing by being attuned to it or against it. The everyday appears either as a series of short but wonderful moments or it dominates the horizon as something heavy and boring. Instead of providing us with the opportunity to surrender ourselves to it, it closes in on us and binds us down. But which attitude are we inclined to take?

The late artist and writer Henrik Tikkanen said about the everyday: “If you don’t know if there’s anything better, mediocre is good, bad is tolerable, wretched bearable, intolerable possible and lousy normal”.

I claim that Tikkanen’s idea is brilliant but at the same time it is very deceptive. It is, after all, nothing but a beginning after which we find ourselves in a serious situation of having to make a choice. A choice of where we will be led by the muddy, mundane and lethally ordinary everyday. Will we succumb to passiveness? Or will we be able to cheat the blind self-confidence enough – will we be able to turn the meanness of the everyday into a beautiful and proud presence? A presence that will not deny the facts but doesn’t agree to content itself with them, either. A presence that will participate in working on the everyday. A presence that turns what we presume as guaranteed and eternally permanent into something else, cuts a hole in it, shining with alternative possibilities and voluntary perceiving and doing things differently.

There is reason to emphasize that in her works Fanni Niemi-Junkola doesn’t render the everyday more than it is. The everyday doesn’t transform into overwhelming glory but it stays demanding, appearing both as responsibility and freedom. It appears as something that one could relate to like to a stranger, familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. This attitude could be called amazing respect.


Compassion as a concept and as an emotion is a typical example of what happens if a thing is reduced to an object that can endlessly be duplicated and sold anywhere, in any package. Compassion has become either a supplement to a commodity or it has suffered from exuberant sentimentality. Be as it may, compassion instrumentalized into a product gives pleasure to the seller only.

How would it be possible to steal compassion back to be a part of the everyday, a way of confronting risks and conflicts so that the result would not be a sweet and savoury specification of the contents but a little bit more developed ability to get along with the demands and the strain of real life. Yes. So how?

Maybe it deals with a classical and an unsolved dilemma, expressing the dialectics of the unsought-after: we will find what we are looking for. With compassion in question, we should dare look for a feeling and for an opportunity brought to the fore by this feeling to be in the middle of conflicts, tolerating and settling them. Making a commitment, participating.


Encounter. Pressing, demanding, prowling even. Essential and dangerous. Not just a shrug of shoulders, a half-hearted handshake or a ‘hi, how are you’ shouted from a car passing by.

Encounter exists constantly somewhere there in between. Coming and going, leaving and returning. Like birth and death. The beginning of something new and the end of something else.

Encounter as approach. As a slow approach, without any certainty of the encounter making sense, not to mention being successful. Encounter as a risk. Meeting half way, receiving. As an occasion embellished by countless visible and invisible pitfalls and slips. Furtively. Like through a mist. As if one wouldn’t dare do what one can do and dares do anyway.

Encounter as experimenting, feeling out, beating about the bush. Striving for a common contacting surface, creating and shaping it. A jointly shared space that belongs to neither one of you but comes into existence right there and only there. It is called the third space (see Hannula 2001). A dialog that takes shape in interaction between the two parties. In encounter.

The everyday, compassion and encounter. Yes, that’s right, and for sure. Absolutely. But how is it then perhaps that these concepts and emotions could be connected, together and separately, as a group and one by one, to the works displayed in the exhibition?

I know but I won’t tell. Absolutely not. I won’t tell you because my knowledge is experiential, unique. Something which is close and far away. Something that you are able to do. To see, to hear and to experience. Privately, in detail and individually.

Mika Hannula

Mika Hannula, Third Space – Misunderstanding as an Ethical Principle , Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki 2001
Henrik Tikkanen, Majavatie 11, Herttoniemi, WSOY 1976.