I would like to have all the information about artist Teemu Mäki´s video art, about killing a cat and the controversy between him and a writer.

Posted
17.05.2004

i would like to have all the information about artist Teemu Mäki´s video art, about killing a cat and the controversy between him and a writer.

Answer

Answered
21.05.2004
Last updated
21.05.2004

Hi!

I’m sorry that we kept you waiting.
It’s impossible to give a very detailed description of the controversy, which is still widening. The dispute has got plenty of publicity in the media since the end of April.
The newspapers are available in the libraries, but to read them you have to know Finnish or have a translator. So I try to summarize a little bit.

“Sex and death : different forms of violence” by Teemu Mäki is a videofilm from 1988. It includes a section, where the artist kills a stray cat with several blows of an axe. Afterwards he masturbates on the dead body.
In an interview in Hufvudstadsbladet (2004, May, 17) Teemu Mäki says that “the video was a documentary on mindless, inexicable violence, ecological destruction and misery in the world.” The documentary was shown at an international video festival in France. One of the jury members contacted Finland, so the documentary got publicity here as well. The artist was prosecuted and imposed a fine. The State Film Censors banned the video, so it was never publicly shown in Finland. In 1994 The Museum of Modern Art bought the tenth version of the work renamed into “My way, a work in progress” and in 1998 it was added to the Kiasma collection. The video is 90 minutes long, and the length of the section in question is 1 minute.
In the beginning of May 2004 the video was exported to the Ateneum Art Museum and filed away.

Professor Leena Krohn protested against the video already in 1988. In April 2004 she was supposed to give a speech in a seminar arranged by the Association of Critics. Teemu Mäki was also invited to appear, and on learning this professor Krohn cancelled her appearance. She justified her action with her condemnation of the cruelty towards animals shown in this video.

When the question turned up again, the chairperson of the Artists’ Association of Finland, Elena Näsänen, and the secretary general of the AAF, Piia Rantala, announced that “Teemu Mäki is a well-known and expressive artist, who critisizes the consumer society and its double standard”. They argue that it is necessary to protect the autonomy of art.

Leena Krohn states that “Teemu Mäki even today thinks that his cruelty towards animals served artistic purposes and is ready to repeat the same action.”

In Helsingin Sanomat (2004, May, 20) professor Anita Seppä from University of Industrial Arts wrote an article, where she says, that “a certain type of moral reformist movement has appeared in the field of art.” She compares it with similar movements in the United States.

A book “Teemu Mäki”, Helsinki:Like, 2002, ISBN 951-578-943-5, is available in Helsinki Metropolitan Area libraries. The book is a catalogue of an exhibition and contains parts of Teemu Mäki’s doctoral thesis. It’s bilingual, both in Finnish and English.

Teemu Mäki’s website you'll find in the address: http://www.teemumaki.com/

Leena Krohn’s website (in Finnish) is in the address: http://www.kaapeli.fi/krohn/

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