Measured Silence




Silhouettes and Shadows, Kerava Art Museum, Finland, 2019

Diorama (Greek “διοράω”, “transparent”) is a 19th-century, three-dimensional landscape model, a kind of wall-mounted display window, where different types of habitats open up to spellbinding views – from arid prairies where bison herds graze, to silent winter nights where a wolf leaps suspended in midair. In the artificial landscapes each synthetic grass, tree and stuffed animal becomes a part in meticulously constructed imitations of nature. These are nature mortes, silent still-lifes, where no leaf stirs or bird takes flight. The time has abruptly stopped flowing, and the world is holding its breath as if waiting for a storm to arrive.

Measured Silence consists of 80 slides photographed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York – especially known for its impressive dioramas. As in censored texts and images, all wildlife has been digitally removed and replaced with white rectangles. 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. The work comments on the disappearance of species, the scientific classification system of animals, the colonialist and nationalist exploitation and glorification of nature, and the reducing of nature in to controlled exotic illusions to be observed, but not sensed or encountered.


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