When Anne Koskinen (born 1969) works with stone, she gathers the material from her own surroundings in rocky terrain in South-West Finland. She chooses ancient natural stones, which — unlike man-made materials — suggest visual motifs for her works. Sculpture is in a way a dialogue between these suggestions and the artist’s own aims.
Koskinen’s work reveals the image residing in stone with the aid of negation. In order to bring it forth, she has to remove stone, the existence of which is nonetheless the sine qua non of the whole piece. In this chain of events, Koskinen is particularly interested in the required/permitted degree of her own activity. How little is needed for an image captured in stone and made possible by it to emerge? When does an image take shape? When is it necessary to stop?
The roots of this exhibition go back thirty years in time to Freiburg in Germany, where Anne Koskinen studied German language and literature before studying art. Her first course at the university was on feminist linguistics and criticism. The German language is highly genderised and the Finnish third person singular pronoun hän, referring to both genders, cannot be translated into German and requires clarification. In response to criticism, the gender-neutral third person hen has gradually become established in Swedish, and in English, especially in the United States, a person can choose the pronoun applying to them: she, he or they.
The word ‘torso’ is Italian, originally meaning a tree trunk. It has later become established as referring to a work of sculpture without a head and limbs. The first torsos were only partly preserved sculptures from antiquity. In the16th century, works of sculpture began to be deliberately left as torsos. The term can also mean in a figurative sense something that is unfinished or otherwise incomplete.
Anne Koskinen has now made a series of torsos whose main message is the acceptance of diversity and difference — like in public swimming baths, where people of all shapes, children and the elderly, men, women and others can swim about in the same water, accepted by themselves and others. The works in the Underground space in the basement take as their starting point the fact that the gallery is in the building where Touko Laaksonen, Tom of Finland, lived.
Despite their beauty — the soft touch of hard stone, the fascination of the texture and colours of stone and the extremely skilled sculptural work — the allusive nature of Koskinen’s torsos and the incompleteness possibly experienced by the viewer — are seamlessly linked to one of the starting points of the works: growth from childhood via puberty to adulthood.
Anne Koskinen has studied at the Karlsruhe Academy of Fine Arts and the University of Freiburg in Germany, and at the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the University of Helsinki In Finland. In recent years, works by her have been on show in solo and group exhibitions at venues including Galerie Werner Klein in Cologne, the Serlachius Museum Gösta in Mänttä and Kunsthalle Helsinki. Her works are included in both private collections and leading Finnish and foreign public collections such as the Sander Collection, the Art Collection of the Saastamoinen Foundation, the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, HAM Helsinki Art Museum and the Nordic Watercolour Museum.