IC-98 is an artistic duo comprised of Finnish artists Visa Suonpää and Patrik Söderlund, who have been brought to the DCA through their work Abendland (Hours, Years, Aeons) after representing Finland in the latest Venice Biennale. The work is part of an ongoing documentation of their hometown Turku and its transition through unfolding social and environmental changes, cumulatively gathering a sense of an implied collective. Drawn into Tomorrow represents IC-98’s largest UK exhibition and comprises of video installations, drawings and publications that witness and record the complex relationships between humans, history, myths and the land.
Disturbing sounds, reminiscent of the noises of groaning and snapping branches, reach out from the darkened room where Abendland is playing. These sinister sounds accompany a hypnotic 42 minute black and white video, projected against the vast expanse of the gallery wall. It depicts the slow transition of a giant tree into misty woodland, into a grotto of branches, and finally into the still blackness of a starry night. As the undulating masses of inky tendrils slowly fade to reveal an empty space amidst the depth of the forest, we feel the distinct absence of all the life and energy just one of these ancient and mighty living organisms would leave behind.
The next film Arkhipelagos (Navigating the Tides of Time) leaves the viewer enraptured, standing serene in front of billowing waves that seem to come alive through their glimmering, textured patterns. Uncomfortable undertones begin to swim as the ceaseless waves begin to rise up, covering more and more of our view of the sky. Ragged masts bob in the distance, isolated in this vast sea, and are also mirrored on the opposite wall, this time dug deep into the ground connoting some form of totemic burial marker. These motifs implicitly allude to current social, political and environmental concerns, whilst the changing seasons and divergent weather patterns dramatically imply the inevitability of the passage of time. Solemn organ music induces a more sombre, contemplative mood which prevails over these installations.
Upon reaching the last two videos, A View from the Other Side and Theses on the Body Politic (The Descent), it seems as though a less intricate rendering of specific locations, such as the riverside portico, could yield a more accessibly diverse approach to animating the ebb and flow of nature and humankind through time.
Returning to the bright lights of the open corridor, the viewer may be either surprised or disappointed by the drawings framed on the wall. Unremarkable as they seem in their frankness, they provide us with an intimate look into the process of animating hand drawn images. Theses on the Body Politic (In the Labyrinth) consists of drawings of various rooms which can be endlessly reconfigured with one another in order to create a Labyrinthine building plan. These intricate pieces demonstrate the fastidious nature of digitally configuring and mastering drawings into an imagined space. Foucault’s Sleep hosts an anthropological collection of animal studies, poetry excerpts, geological diagrams and scientific documents which draw our attention back to individual, human stories.
Though the clean, minimal aesthetic of Drawn into Tomorrow leaves no room for spontaneous, creative contingencies, its lack of a visceral human touch suitably complements the work’s anthropogenic concerns. The stillness of their work and attention to minute detail asks for an attentive audience with a willing mindfulness to witness each passing, transient moment. IC-98’s deliberate and unaggressive approach to exploring the impact of human life on earth remains free from sanctimonious moralizing overtones, and instead provides a profound space of reflection for its audience.