Measured Silence




Silhouettes and Shadows, Kerava Art Museum, Finland, 2019

Diorama (Greek “διοράω”, “transparent”) is a 19th-century, three-dimensional landscape model, a wall-mounted display window, where different types of habitats open up to spellbinding views – from tropical rainforests with exotic colourful birds to silent winter nights where wolfs leap forward suspended in midair. In the artificial landscapes each synthetic grass, tree and taxidermied animal become parts in meticulously constructed imitations of nature. These are nature mortes, frozen still-lifes, where no leaf stirs or bird takes flight. Time has unexpectedly stopped flowing and the world is holding its breath, as if waiting for a storm to arrive.

Measured Silence consists of 80 slides photographed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, especially known for its stunning dioramas. As in censored texts and images, all wildlife has been erased from the slides. The absence of species creates gaping holes into the continuum of Nature, and the hand-cut black silhouette shadows next to the projection makes their vanishing visible.
Already in 1909 the museum displays were planned to present the rapidly vanishing landscapes and animals of Africa. Still, an institute whose purpose is to preserve and sustain, but which also obtains specimens of rare and endangered species, encounters a moral dilemma. The work raises questions connected to the disappearance of species, the desire to understand Nature through scientific approach by taxonomic classification systems and the modern mans need of turning the uncontrollable into something controlled.


Installation image credits: Pekka Elomaa, Kerava Art Museum, 2019