This spring Gasworks presents the first UK institutional solo exhibition by Finnish artist Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen.
His process-based practice and durational works effectively reflect on the impact human actions have on the environment by transforming natural raw materials into works that bear the marks of the creation process, for example wooden pieces that show the evidence of being worked on by tools. The works also deal with wider existential concerns around death and the passage of time.
These themes are strongly present in the newly-commissioned performance and large-scale sculpture entitled Framed Sea Cow that will be presented at Gasworks. Like with many of Laakkonen’s works, this new work has a performative element. Over the span of the durational performance Laakkonen will create a wooden replica of a sea cow based on a skeleton documented by German explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller in 1742. The extinction of the sea cow only a few decades after its scientific “discovery” is the first historical extinction of a marine mammal at human hands. Laakkonen will bring the Steller’s sea cow back into existence by carefully crafting and assembling the wooden skeleton based solely on the written description provided by Steller in the 18th century.
Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen (b. 1982) is a Finnish artist who has studied at Nordiska Konstkolan in Kokkola, Finland, and Malmö Art Academy in Sweden. His recent solo exhibitions include Kunstverein München, Munich (2019); Kohta, Helsinki (2017); Corvi-Mora, London (2017 and 2015). He has also exhibited internationally in Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, and Belgium.
Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen at Gasworks, 14 April–19 June 2022. Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH. Open Wednesday–Sunday 12–6pm or by appointment. Free admission. More about the exhibition on the gallery’s website here.
Celebration with artist in-conversation: Wednesday 13 April, 6:30-8:30pm. Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH.
Image: Dodo by Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, courtesy of the artist and Corvi-Mora.