FLATLAND : Niko Luoma

Opening November 30th 2007
Exhibition 12-01-2007 –€“ 01-09-2008


Over the last few years, a certain brand of conceptual photography from Finland has been grouped around the figure of Timothy Persons under the heading of –€œThe Helsinki School–€. As –€œDirector of Professional Studies–€ at the University of Art and Design Helsinki and galerist, Timothy Persons combines the virtues of both teaching and marketing. Niko Luoma stands out in this context due to his radical concepts. In a number of works, his photographs are completely detached >from their customary task of recording reality. He describes these abstract pictorial condensations as follows: –€œI take advantage of the optical possibilities of the camera lens to capture physical phenomena such as light in space. It is my intention to bend time and space, to create connections between one space and another, in order to change the manner of our perception.–€


Niko Luoma–€™s exhibition in the Galerie Haus Schneider Uschi Kolb is entitled –€œFlatland–€ –€“ a title whose relationship to the exhibition cannot be immediately understood without a certain background knowledge, but which still suggests a number of points of entry for a reading of the photographs. –€œFlatland–€ is the title of a short story by the English theologian and writer Edwin A. Abbott from 1884 –€“ a mathematical satyr of hierarchical Victorian society.


The narrator lives in a flat –€“ i.e. two-dimensional –€“ world, whose inhabitants are simple geometric shapes. The narrator himself is a square, thus belonging to the middle class. In the first part of the book, the square gives a detailed account of the social customs of Flatland, especially the complicated methods used by the inhabitants to determine the shape of those they encounter and the appropriate manner of dealing with them. In the second part, the narrator dreams of visiting the one-dimensional Lineland, where the inhabitants are (variously long) sections of a straight line.


With such ideas in mind, the criss-cross of white lines, resembling a game of Mikado, and with an over –€“exposed, bright quality like snow crystals against a black sky, can be read as the depiction of a social utopia. At the same time, they a re crystalline snapshots under an electro-microscope. >From this point of view, the infinitely chaotic diversity of nature with forests and water reflections fit thematically into the exhibition –€“ aside from the radiant effect as a counterpoint to the black and white photographs.


Therefore, it is the relationship between the simulated and the real that makes Niko Luoma–€™s approach so interesting. He sees nature as an abstract chaos of different elements, a state in which pure abstraction functions as a continual experiment.