Emily Wardill: Bi


Opening and artist’s talk with Emily Wardill and Anders Kreuger on Wednesday, 13 November at 6–8pm

Image Credit:
Emily Wardill, production photograph for Bi, 2019: interior view of António Teixeira Guerra’s house in Lisbon

Emily Wardill (born in 1977 in England, lives in Portugal) has not exhibited in Finland before, but she is well known in the European art scene for films and installations that are both embodiments of thought and meditations on things, both language-based abstractions and corporeal sensations.

Bi, a new work commissioned by Kohta, is half of a diptych reversing Eugene O’Neill’s famous play A Long Day’s Journey into Nightinto a contemporary journey from darkness into light. (The other work, Night for Day, will be premiered at Secession in Vienna in June 2020.)

Wardill has worked with five actors and a house overlooking Lisbon from the opposite bank of the river Tejo. Built by the architect António Teixeira Guerra (1929–2012) for his family, it was finished just before Portugal’s Carnation Revolution of 1974, which ended almost 50 years of right-wing authoritarian rule. Wardill was looking for a building that was ‘being overcome by the natural world’.

She writes, ‘When I finally found the wife of the architect, Martine de Stoop, she said that the couple built it together, that they kept albino peacocks in the grounds and that he only allowed architecture students to visit in the magic hour. So I filmed this hour, when the house seems to burn with absent presences, trees on the outside are reflected inside, shadows are as strong as walls and windows look like film strips.’

Biis a two-channel projection (15′) with stereo sound, happening on both sides of a screen positioned diagonally in the exhibition space. We can always only see either the ‘location’ or the ‘inhabitants’. The other half of the work must be experienced ‘as if we are in a room hearing sounds coming through the walls, or in a virtual space with actors where the background has not yet been filled in.’

‘I wondered how to keep the energy of a sketch in a finished work. Would it help if we only saw half of the work? Either the house or the people inhabiting it. And those people would be a “family” in contemporary Lisbon. While the mother in O’Neill’smasterpiece is addicted to opium, here she is instead using LSD on the advice of her son, schooled on the US West Coast in that special relationship between technology and hallucinogens. The Nixon administration made the drug illegal because of its its influence on social movements for change and drugs companies had little interest in developing it, because of its apparent ability to cure just with just one dose.’

In Night for Day in Vienna, we will be able to access the source material for Bi through recorded interviews. The ‘mother’ is inspired by Isabel do Carmo, who was in the revolutionary brigades in 1974 and now works as a doctor specialising in eating disorders. Her ideas of utopia contrast with those of her ‘son’, a character based on interviews with two young men running a startup in Lisbon that attempts to programme computers for recognising moving images. At Secession these two characters will morph and merge and multiply into four throughout several rooms.

At Kohta we witness a play in a state of becoming, split in two. Wardill has shot her actors, playing a family of characters who are finding out who they are, in a mobile set built in her studio. The family is not descending into darkness. The family home is shot at sunrise, as if they are about to wake up and start inhabiting it.

Emily Wardill is also showing Green New Deal or Live on Mars, a series of rayograms made in response to the recent climate strikes. They were initially a sign marched through Lisbon with all the other protesters.

Press Inquiries:
anders.kreuger@kohta.fi; +358 452013048

Film Credits:

Pieter Bastiaan Zin
Kimberley pearl febich
Francisca Manuel
Carla Bolito
Vicente Wallenstein

Anze Persin

Sound Person
Bernardo Theriaga

Emanuel García

Special Thanks
João Coimbra Oliveira
Martine de Stoop
Bernardo Nogueira-Vaz
James Newitt
Afonso Patinhas
Alberto Costa-Macedo
Malmö Art Academy
Midori Takada

The exhibition is organised by Kohta. The Council responsible for Kohta’s programming consists of artists Magdalena Åberg, Martti Aiha,Thomas Nyqvist, Nina Roos and Hans Rosenström, curator (and director of Kohta) Anders Kreuger and filmmaker and lecturer Richard Misek.

Kohta was launched with support from EMO Foundation, which funds the arts in Finland. Kohta seeks collaboration with and support from a variety of public and private entities in Finland and abroad. To realise its programme for 2019, Kohta has been awarded grants from the City of Helsinki, the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and Stiftelsen Tre Smeder.

Työpajankatu 2 B, building 7, 3rd floor
00580 Helsinki, Finland

Opening Hours:
Wednesday–Friday 12–6pm; Saturday–Sunday 12–4pm