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.
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.
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
2010 Masters of Arts, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
DUO EXHIBITIONS (SELECTED)
•WAM, Wäinö Aalaltonen Museumuseu, Turku,Finland
• Ierimonti Gallery, New York, U.S.A.
• Galleria Sculptor, Helsinki, Finland
• Conference on Art and Art Projects: Kobe studios, Kobe, Japan
• Aine Art Museum, Tornio, Finland
• Galleria Sculptor, Helsinki, Finland
• Finnland Institute in Deutchland, Berlin, Germany
• Gängeviertel: Galleri Loge, Hamburg, Germany
• Invalid Robot Factory, Berlin, Germany
• Polyforum Siqueiros, Mexico City, Mexico
• Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, Mexico City, Mexico
• Museo Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, Mexico
COLLECTIVE EXHIBITIONS (SELECTED)
•WORMHOLE, Rio Honda Gallery, Los Angeles, U.S.A F
TRANSITIONS, Konstmuseet i Norr, Kiruna, Sweden
ACHTUNG, Galleria Rankka, Helsinki, Finland
•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
•MÄNTTÄ ART FESTIVAL Mänttä, Finland; curated Anssi Kasitonni
•NORD ART International exhibition, Büdelsdorf, Germany; curated Wolfgang Gramm/Inga Aru
•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
•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
• Gallery Casona, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
•EFEKTI Purnu, Finland; curated Petri Eskelinen
• 48 STUNDEN NEUKÖLLN Berlin, Germany
•Galleri Heike Arndt, Berlin, Germany
•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
•NORD ART International Exhibition & Symposium, Büdelsdorf, Germany ; Curated Wolfgang Gramm/ Inga Aru
• EXPO BICENTENARIO Guanajuato, Mexico; Curated Martha Papadimitrieou
• PIXELACHE Kerava Art Museum, Finland
• Isorättyä Swingers with Mimosa Pale, Mikko Myllylahti, Martti Kaartinen, Riku Rousu. Helsinki festival, Finland
• Isorättyä Swingers with Mimosa Pale, Martti Kaartinen, Riku Rousu, Jyrki Hakomäki. KalottJazz & Blues Festival, Tornio, Finland
• Isorättyä Swingers with Mimosa Pale, Martti Kaartinen. Biofilia openings, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
• 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
• Isorättyä Swingers & Roku Rousu. Muusajuhlat -Literary art festival, Oulu, Finland
• Isorättyä Swingers & Roku Rousu. NordArt, Büdelsdorf, Germany
• Isorättyä Swingers & Ray Vera. UrsusFest - Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki, Finland
• Mimproject & Invalid Robot Factory. Vabauduse Väljak, Tallinn, Estonia
• Polka Madre & Chicharrona project. Glastonbury Contemporary Performing Art Festival, Glastonbury, England
• Tuomari Nurmio, Polka Madre & Chicharrona project. Jyväskylä Summer Festival, Finland
• 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
• Kojamo, steel sculpture Tornio, Finland
Poliisin Muikut, Steel sculpture installation, Lappeenranta, Finland
Interstellar wall, ArtesanianGlass sculpture, Kaksakslauttanen, Finland
• STREAM design for restaurant/planetarium edifice Kakslauttanen, Finland
• BROKEN LANTERN steel and glass sculpture at riverside plaza. Tornio, Finland
• 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
• Association of Finnish Sculptors
• Artists’ Association of Lapland
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