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6. Pia Sirén

Palm Beach, 2021

Skylifts, tarpaulins, rope, signs, concrete blocks.

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How do people react to this exotic plant and where it gets to grow, and what do we want to say in general with our plant beds in different settings? The sculptor Pia Sirén’s choice of material says something about the unnaturalness of the built environment. Besides that, she seems to be calling into question our need to control nature. Her palm performance appears to be a kind of ideal landscape, like a picture postcard. Following the entry of the palms into the town’s environment, only a large sign is left behind. Sirén’s works are not generally made like paintings, but instead give us the experience of being able to shape our own reality, or rather, what it is we fantasize that we are.  

Sirén mostly makes painterly use of, among other things, green, transparent-plastic tarpaulins, items from building sites and aluminium ladders to create temporary, site-specific landscape illusions; a kind of do-it-yourself landscape. The material itself refers to change and movement. Her installations are literally constructions, that is, artificially built and erected, and she does not try to get her landscape to, so to speak, look right. Sirén often works rapidly and wants to create a spontaneous atmosphere. She does not try to conceal the various stages of the work, but makes the whole process visible. The work is a gesture towards constructing nature, not a finished illusion. She creates experiences of space, employing very simple means to create an illusion.

Sirén’s landscapes combine real natural shapes with fictive views and memory images. Everything suddenly becomes very clear, and it is humankind’s relationship with nature that is being examined in these landscape illusions, in which we can often wander around. Traditionally landscape paintings have been seen as windows into another reality. Here, it seems to be more a matter of the very gesture of trying to construct nature at all. The installation constructions give the impression of being some kinds of leftovers from performance, exaggerated and with no attempt at realism. The whole thing gets us to pay more attention to what the work is like and how it might have become like it is, that is to say, to engage with the material and the processual nature of the work.

The visual artist Pia Sirén (b. 1982) mainly works with sculptures and installations. She builds large landscapes using ordinary building materials. She graduated from the sculpture course at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki five years ago, yet does not make traditional sculptures, but focuses on space installations. Sirén made a temporary palm installation outside Helsinki Central Library Oodi in 2019. She has had several solo exhibitions, most recently at Hyvinkää Art Museum (2019), Forum Box (2018), Muu Galleria (2016) and VESS gallery in Copenhagen (2015). She has taken part in several group exhibitions, such as at Uppsala Art Museum (2017), Varbergs Konsthall in Sweden (2017), The Garden Triennial in Århus, Denmark (2017), Rovaniemi Art Museum (2015) and MACRO Testaccio in Rome (2014). Sirén lives and works in Loviisa.