Often presenting multiple layers and references, Inga Meldere’s works weave together her preoccupations of personal and collective memories, a sense of belonging. Meldere’s site-specific installation in Helsinki Biennial meditates on children’s experiences of Vallisaari from the 1950s to the 1970s, back when the island was isolated from the rest of the world.
Inga Meldere (b. 1979) lives and works in Helsinki. Her works are the result of detailed re-working of various source material, image resources, and references, for example art historical quotes, archival material, and everyday imagery from the culture of her youth in the 1990s. The final works are typically created from diverse methods and techniques including pairing paintings with printed fragments of a photograph, and installation. Yet her works are always harnessed in relation to painting and solving the problematics that arise in the process — and what she calls “the mood of a painting”. Often presenting multiple layers and references, her works weave together her preoccupations of personal and collective memories, a sense of belonging.
The history of Vallisaari Island is vividly preserved in childhood memories. Inga Meldere’s site-specific installation Repeating Pattern (2020) meditates on children’s experiences of Vallisaari from the 1950s to the 1970s, back when the island was isolated from the rest of the world. But, notes the artist, it could equally well portray childhood on any island or continent in any decade of the past century. Inhabiting an island is like a metaphoric representation of childhood.
The installation spans two apartments in Block D of the Pilot House. The first apartment plunges into memories of swimming lessons, while the other takes us in search of a secret cave. Meldere documents the memories of the building’s former residents through paintings hanging on the walls of rooms that continue to bear visible traces of the people who lived there decades ago.
The work is a reminder of the existence of innocence: “Seeing the future as something bright is an inherent part of childhood,” states the artist.
Photos: Matti Pyykkö