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Pekka and Teija Isorättyäs'

works are often based on recycled materials: scrap metal and parts of different machines, waste plastic, bones and animal leather. They combine technology with these materials, creating mechanical sculptures, robots and installations that tackle humankind's relationship with technology and nature poetically, but also with a bit of sarcastic tongue-in-cheek playfulness.

As in popular culture, the Isorättyäs also use robots to illustrate the conflict between a perfect, ideal person and real human weakness. The Isorättyäs’ use of robots with human deficiencies manages to crystallise something essential about being a human. Another recurring theme is how nature tolerates imperfection - in other words, we humans. We wound nature, even though we are part of it.

 

Jonni Saloluoma

 

Pekka and Teija’s collaboration began in 2006 with the Master degree exhibition at Aalto University, Helsinki.  Their first museum exhibition as a duo was held in Museo Ex Teresa Arte Actual in 2008, followed by exhibitions at Diego Rivera Anahuacalli museum and Polyforum Siquieros in 2009. 

Isorättyäs then ran their own art space, Invalid Robot Factory, in Neukölln, Berlin until 2013. They have exhibited internationally at a number of galleries and museums, including Kobe Studios; Ierimonti Gallery, New York City and KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki. In 2017 Pekka and Teija were nominated for Finland’s Ars Fennica art prize. Isorättyäs’ later Public Artworks include Buck Salmon (completed 2021), 15 meters long and 3,5 meter high fish shape that has a cathedral-like space to step inside and Police’s vendace (completed 2021), nine fish shape sculptures each 5 meter long constructed from 10 000 stainless steel rings; commissioned by Finnish state art commission.

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Irti kuvasta, 27 min documentary by Meeri Koutaniemi , Yle (Yleisradio, Finnish Broadcasting Company)  

Machines with soul

 

Written by Helena Sederholm 

Translated by Silja Kudel

Pekka and Teija Isorättyä first captured the popular imagination a few years ago with their Zimmer frame-pushing Invalid Robots. Since then, they have created a diversified array of kinetic sculptures of various forms and identities that pose questions about the connection between people, art and technology.

Their fusions of art and technology are a far cry from modernist machine aesthetics. Best defined as ‘electromechanical bio-art’, their sculptures are fashioned out of organic materials such as tanned hide, stripped bone and fish skin, to which they add a retrofitted second-hand motor.

To the contemporary eye, human-machine hybrids seem stiff, passive and soulless. But the roots of their posthumanist art trace back to the automata commissioned by the church and the court during the late Renaissance. These human simulacra were ‘living machines’ that seemed to act unpredictably, playfully, interactively, as if they had a mind of their own. Pekka and Teija Isorättyä thus justifiably pose the question: “For how long will mechanics and electronics look forward to the future – or do they already hark back to the past?”

The fusion of technology and organic materials invokes the idea of man playing God, a theme that inspires dread but also hope. The artists are the modern-day equivalent of Prometheus, breathing life into inorganic matter, endowing it with a human soul. The meticulous design and hand-crafted finish adds a poetic dimension to their technical contraptions.

The artists choose their materials by meeting people and searching for stories. They take the arte povera tradition of refashioning everyday materials one step further than their precursors: by adding moving parts, they infuse the materials with new significations, yet their art is also rich in allusions to art history. For instance the shape of The Mermaid is borrowed from Hokusai, but the metal studs connecting its plates hark back to Sirpa Alalääkkölä’s Ainotriptych.

The themes of their works are decided by the material and its history, and the trajectory of movement is guided by the theme. The presence of humans is always implicit, even when we see nothing but infusion tubes, plastic bottles, tuna leather or bio-oil. The artists raise social issues with their oeuvre, yet without making overt political statements.

Pekka and Teija Isorättyä have spent many years working around the world, in Mexico, Germany, Japan, aboard a sailing boat on the Baltic Sea, in their home town of Tornio and, currently, in the US. They work as a family unit, throwing themselves into making art that transforms not only the viewer’s perceptions and the environment, but also themselves as artists.

Artist Interview at CONNECTORTV, JAPAN

EDUCATION

 

2010 Masters of Arts, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland

 

 

DUO EXHIBITIONS (SELECTED)

2022

•WAM, Wäinö Aalaltonen Museumuseu, Turku,Finland

2018

• Ierimonti Gallery, New York, U.S.A.

2015

• Galleria Sculptor, Helsinki, Finland

• Conference on Art and Art  Projects: Kobe studios, Kobe, Japan

2014

• Aine Art Museum, Tornio, Finland

2012

• Galleria Sculptor, Helsinki, Finland

• Finnland Institute in Deutchland, Berlin, Germany 

• Gängeviertel: Galleri Loge, Hamburg, Germany

2011

• Invalid Robot Factory, Berlin, Germany

2009

• Polyforum Siqueiros, Mexico City, Mexico

2008

• Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, Mexico City, Mexico

• Museo Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, Mexico

 

 

COLLECTIVE EXHIBITIONS (SELECTED)

2019

•WORMHOLE, Rio Honda Gallery, Los Angeles, U.S.A F

2018

TRANSITIONS, Konstmuseet i Norr, Kiruna, Sweden

ACHTUNG, Galleria Rankka, Helsinki, Finland

2017

•ARS FENNICA 2017, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland.

•SPRING OPEN STUDIOS, ISCP, New York, U.S.A.

•OPEN ART biennale, Örebro, Sweden

•KIMMO PYYKKÖ taidemuseo, Kankaanpää,Finland

•SULOISESSA SUOMESSAMME, Kouvola Finland; curated by Kaarina Kaikkonen

2016

•MÄNTTÄ ART FESTIVAL Mänttä, Finland; curated Anssi Kasitonni

•NORD ART International exhibition, Büdelsdorf, Germany; curated Wolfgang Gramm/Inga Aru

2015

•OCCUPY SPACE ! Association of Finnish Sculptors exhibition, Korundi Art museum, Rovaniemi, Finland ;curated Daniel Werkmäster  

•12 NO MADO Confrence on Art and Art Projects, Kobe, Japan

2014

•ON/OFF Exhibition of kinetic sculptures, Hyvinkää Art Museum, Finland 2014 

• ARS LIEKE Exhibition of electronic art, Poikilo Art Museum, Kouvola, Finland 2014; curated Jonne Pitkänen

2013

• Gallery Casona, Playa del Carmen, Mexico  

•EFEKTI Purnu, Finland; curated Petri Eskelinen

2012

• 48 STUNDEN NEUKÖLLN Berlin, Germany 

•Galleri Heike Arndt, Berlin, Germany 

2011

•UUSI VEISTOS Lahti Art Museum, Finland.

• CRUCE DE CAMINOS - EUROPA EN MEXICO Museo de Arte de la SHCP Antiguo Palacio del Arzobispado, Mexico City, Mexico; Curated Martha Papadimitrieou

• IHMEEN LÄHELLÄ Oulu Art Museum, Finland 

2010

•NORD ART International Exhibition & Symposium, Büdelsdorf, Germany ; Curated Wolfgang Gramm/ Inga Aru

• EXPO BICENTENARIO Guanajuato, Mexico; Curated Martha Papadimitrieou

• PIXELACHE Kerava Art Museum, Finland

 

 

PERFORMANCES (SELECTED)

 

2015

• Isorättyä Swingers with Mimosa Pale, Mikko Myllylahti, Martti Kaartinen, Riku Rousu. Helsinki festival, Finland

2014

• Isorättyä Swingers with Mimosa Pale, Martti Kaartinen, Riku Rousu, Jyrki Hakomäki. KalottJazz & Blues Festival, Tornio, Finland

2013

• Isorättyä Swingers with Mimosa Pale, Martti Kaartinen. Biofilia openings, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland

2012

• Isorättyä Swingers with Mimosa Pale, Martti Kaartinen. Fusion Festival, Neustrelitz, Germany

• Isorättyä Swingers & Martti Kaartinen. Embassy of Nordic Countries, Berlin

• Isorättyä Swingers & Martti Kaartinen.  Gängeviertel festival, Hamburg

2011

• Isorättyä Swingers & Roku Rousu. Muusajuhlat -Literary art festival, Oulu, Finland 

• Isorättyä Swingers & Roku Rousu. NordArt, Büdelsdorf, Germany

2010 

• Isorättyä Swingers & Ray Vera. UrsusFest - Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki, Finland

• Mimproject & Invalid Robot Factory.  Vabauduse Väljak, Tallinn, Estonia 

2009

• Polka Madre & Chicharrona project. Glastonbury Contemporary Performing Art  Festival, Glastonbury, England

• Tuomari Nurmio, Polka Madre & Chicharrona project. Jyväskylä Summer Festival, Finland

2008

• Polka Madre & Chicharrona project. Festival de Centro Historico, Mexico City, Mexico 

• Polka Madre, Trans American Gipsy Punk Tour.12 Galaxies, San Francisco, U.S.A.

• Polka Madre, Trans American Gipsy Punk Tour. Mehanata Bulgarian Bar, New York, U.S.A

 

COMISSIONS

2021

• Kojamo, steel sculpture Tornio, Finland

2021

Poliisin Muikut, Steel sculpture installation, Lappeenranta, Finland

2021

Interstellar wall, ArtesanianGlass sculpture, Kaksakslauttanen, Finland

2018

• STREAM design for restaurant/planetarium edifice  Kakslauttanen, Finland

2013

• BROKEN LANTERN steel and glass sculpture at riverside plaza. Tornio, Finland

 

TEACHING

 

• 2016 Lappland University of applied sciences, painting & drawing teacher

• 2013Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki. Department of sculpture- period for 1st year students.

 • 2007Lappland University of applied sciences, painting& drawing course

 • 2006 Tornio High School,Visual art teacher

 • Workshops of Kinetic sculptures: 

2018 Scandinavia House, New York U.S.A.

2017 ArtGear, Lappland University intergration program, Tornio, Finland

2015 C.A.P Kobe, Japan; Ii High School, Finland; Aine art museum, Finland

2010 Kerava Art museum, Finland

 • Invited presentations (selected) :

2017 Scandinavia House, New York U.S.A.

2016 IHME contemporary art festival, Helsinki Finland; Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, Finland

 2014 Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, Finland

2012 Finnland institute Berlin, Germany

2011Art 360 Oulu, Finland

2010 Aalto University Helsinki, Finland

 

AWARDS & GRANTS (SELECTED)

2022 Arts Council of Finland. 3 year grant for artistic work.

2018 William Thuring prize

2018 Finland state Art commission's art competion 1 st prize

2018 Arts Council of Finland. Grant for artistic work.

2017 Ars Fennica, Nomination.

2017 Ars Fennica, Public Choise Award.

2017 Lappland Art Price

 2016 Art council of Lapland. Grant for artistic work

2015 Finnish Cultural Foundation. Grant for artistic work

2014 Alfred Kordelin Foundation. Grant for artistic work

2014 Arts Council of Finland. Grant for artistic work.

2013 Finnish Cultural Foundation. Grant for artistic work

 2012 Arts Council of Finland. Residency Grant

 2011Arts Council of Finland.  Grant for artistic work

 2010 Nord Art, Public Choice Award, 1st prize.  

2010 Finnish Art Association. Grant for artistic work

2009 Finnish Cultural Foundation .Grant for artistic work

2008 Arts Council of Finland.Grant for artistic work

2007 FRAME. Project grant

 

WORKS IN COLLECTIONS 

•Kiasma Finnish National Gallery

• Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation Art Collection

• Finnish Art Association Collection 

• Aine Art Museum, Tornio, Finland 

• Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, Turku Finland 

• Poikilo Art Museum, Kouvola, Finland 

• Basware Art Collection, Finland

•Private Collections

 

MEMBERSHIPS 

 

• Association of Finnish Sculptors 

• Artists’ Association of Lapland 

 

RESIDENCIES, STIPENDS

 

2017 ISCP New York

2015 The Saari residence, Mietoinen, Finland

2015 Conference on art and Art Projects, Kobe, Japan

2014 Heike Arndt Residency, Kettinge, Denmark

2012 Gängeviertel Hamburg, Germany

2010 Art council of Lapland residency, Berlin, Germany