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Mortality / Immortality

Mortals / Kuolevaisia, 2013-2017, a series of digital collages by the artist Ulla Karttunen / Contemporary art from Finland Mortals / Kuolevaisia, 2013-2017, a series of digital collages by the artist Ulla Karttunen / Contemporary art from Finland Mortals / Kuolevaisia, 2013-2017, a series of digital collages by the artist Ulla Karttunen / Contemporary art from Finland Mortals / Kuolevaisia, 2013-2017, a series of digital collages by the artist Ulla Karttunen / Contemporary art from FinlandUlla Karttunen: Mortals / Kuolevaisia, 2013-2017, 9 parts, each 26,6 x 20 x 2, a series of digital collages, on show at Art Fair Suomi ’17

The series Mortals consists of dark portraits of unidentifiable figures, pigment prints mounted under thick acrylic glass. The digital collages mix materials from two contrary directions – from graveyards and advertising. The project, as a contemporary version of memento mori, studies existence, death, and strive for immortality in the contemporary secular market-based society.

Both the photographs of the dead in the graveyards and glamorous media imagery share the same fate of fading away. Photographs of the dead in gravestones are often worn and almost vanished, however the ancient figures seem to bear unbelievable dignity. On the contrary, contemporary media images are technically brilliant and aesthetically capturing, but soon lose their shine in the continual information flow. When immortality is so badly striven for, it is hardly accessed.

Martin Heidegger writes about ”the fourfold”, a unity, where ”earth and sky, divinities and mortals” are in one. This union of mortality and divinity/immortality describes for him the experience of being. Being can reach its completeness only with death, being toward death. – Analogously these digital portraits do not depict individuals, but being in its ambiguity, when mortality and divinity, at least momentarily, transfix each other.

”I shall be Nobody; soon, I shall be all men—I shall be dead”, tells the protagonist in the short story The Immortal by Jorge Luis Borges. In media society, immortality is tried to be gained by selfie repetition and becoming obsessively Somebody. Although the sublime immortality could be found maybe from the other end, of becoming Nobody, all humans, in front of death.

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