Retreat – Background

The idea of sensory deprivation came to me already before 2008 when I began studying art at the academy in Helsinki. I was a bit of a restless soul after childhood, pondering existential questions and the cultural reality of a rising capitalist society. I found that the pressure to be goal-oriented was hard to fulfill. It seemed far from my own aims and the dominant materialistic worldview appeared to create problems rather than solutions. Not being quite sure how to cope with the demands of this social structure I began to travel. In my mind I had formed an abstract question, which I then set out to explore. After 5 years this led me to a 35-day silent retreat, conducted in a Christian ashram with influences from Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. Unexpectedly, that experience made me form a deeper understanding of abstract thinking by using deep rest and meditation as practicing methods. The method in the silent retreat was encouraging each practitioner to develop their own understanding of meditation, which eventually directed my interest into the field of contemporary art.

One of the main ambitions that came out of that experience was the will to further explore sensory deprivations. The question that intrigued me was how to create an experience where one could reach within oneself for the content rather than by focusing outwards. Why is time to reflect or organize thoughts so rarely allowed within everyday routines and why are public spaces for this so limited? I am convinced that promoting a balance between reflection and action gives a greater impact for the results and the quality of any achievements in the long run.

These thoughts have been moaning in my head for several years, until I realized how I could connect them with my artistic practice. So this led me to explore the absence of light. In this work my personal interests were the subjective experiences of the participants and how they varied from each other.

Another important part was to create an alternative space for social meetings. Where preconceptions that exist within our society would be questioned because if you cannot see you cannot so readily judge another. I wanted to develop a work where I do not evoke the visual, where the meaning is not created by the imagery. I wanted to step away from the interpretation of images and get into the feeling itself.