In May 1885, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "My eyes get worse every day, and, unless someone comes along and helps me, I shall probably be blind by the year's end." A few months earlier, he had observed in a letter to his friend Franz Overbeck: "Matters concerning the eyes are increasingly doubtful. Schiessen's remedies have not helped. Since last summer there has been a change that I do not understand. Spots, veiling, also a flood of tears."
Looking at Heli Hiltunen's latest paintings, photographs and video works, my thoughts turn to Nietzsche and the dots, veils and tears that filled his field of vision. The less a philosopher sees, the more he will think of seeing. For Nietzsche, seeing or, more precisely, sight became a crucial issue in the sense that like cogito, "I think", video , "I see", entails the possibility of losing the faculty in question, the end of thinking and becoming blind.
Seeing is an issue that defines existence for Heli Hiltunen. The possibility of seeing, its parameters and obstacles, are familiar themes from her earlier work. The relationships between the depth of an image, its surface and what lies beyond open up a strange space in front of the painting that blurs the order of modern, and post-modern, visual space.
Sight opens up sense and recollection and the way to mental images alluded to by the new paintings that lead to a world of fairy-tale. In Hiltunen's fragmentary visual tales, time operates in the empty space between images, to which the latter lend content. The linear narrative of the images, however, has now disintegrated into their wall-filling abundance, and the order of things before or after becomes mixed and overlapping.
Hiltunen paints what is crystallized in the word video, 'I see'. This small word contains the core of human sight: its obstacles and disturbances, the failing of eyesight and becoming blind. Hiltunen, however, is not losing her eyesight, like Nietzsche did in the late 1880s, and thus her paintings are not about the fear of losing sight. On the contrary, she celebrates sight and assures her viewers that there is no correct way of seeing, no correct perspective, far less brightness, clarity or transparency. Believe it or not, the miracle of seeing is created by obstacles, dots, veiling and tears.