This was the first United States career survey of the pioneering artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila (Finnish, born 1959). Ahtila’s provocative, intensely mesmerizing moving-image installations picture what it means to be human, to experience transcendence as well as frailty, to be awed by nature, and to reason with loss. This selected survey of the past 20 years of Ahtila’s multichannel installations included works from every period of her career, and it featured the North American premiere of her newest work, the four-channel installation Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1, 2014.
The installations included in Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Ecologies of Drama traced a central question posed throughout her work: how have drama and narrative historically been constructed, and how might we envision their new forms? The root of the word “ecology” lies in the Greek “oikos,” or “house,” which directly suggests the interdependence between our personal, domestic concerns and larger ecosystems. For example, many of Ahtila’s most recent works, including Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1, directly investigate how humans could move away from an anthropocentric perspective and suggest that our narratives about the world around us may be powerful tools in that effort.