Some of the most readily dispensed advice for young artists and art students it seems is to “look, look, look.” It is commonly agreed that the more diverse and dense an artist’s intake, the more rich the output. Elina Minn seems to have taken this advice to heart. Using ffffound.com as her main site for collection and categorization, the young Finnish artist builds a solid base of source images that are then spliced, combined, and re-contextualized to create new works.
Working mainly with illustration and animation, though having also done a number of performances and now increasing the use of the written word, Minn creates images that are not immediately understood. Stylistically, Minn’s drawings bring to mind Louise Bourgeois’s suite He Disappeared Into Complete Silence. Like the late Bourgeois, Minn leaves the narrative structure of her images deep below the surface, where they linger suggestively, ominously. The cultural theorist and cross-discipline critic Mieke Bal is also a clear influence on the artist’s understanding of narrative and the use of found and acquired imagery.
In considering these works, one wonders, “am I missing something here?” In my opinion, this is the mark of good narrative art. No one wants everything handed to them on a silver platter, but one does want a few clues into the work, a few keyholes to peek through. Often, Minn will create domestic spaces, where the presence of the figure is implied or sometimes seen melding with its surroundings. The images are begging to have a narrative dug out of them. The subtlety of Minn’s work does not betray the intrigue that is also present. The geometry found in the work balances Minn’s tendency toward more lax craftsmanship. Tonally, the work is rich without being overly graphic.
A helpful avenue in understanding Minn’s images can be found in her texts. When a text is lain next to an image, clues can be found in one that help the other be better understood. Minn’s artist’s statement is just such a text. Throughout this particular writing, an episode of Seinfeld is retold. Muddled by “um”s, “like”s, hesitation, and reiteration, the text as a whole is inconsequential. However, the four key events in the narrative are well articulated. The statement goes something like this: haze, haze, fuzz, EVENT, haze, buzz, EVENT, fuzz, buzz, haze, fuzz, EVENT, haze, EVENT, fuzz, fuzz. The greater context is lost, but the four instances of articulation exist as pearls of precision, insight, and elaboration. At the end of the text, Minn explains how she sees the actions of the character George as being reflective of what it’s like to be an artist. Even more telling, this very text can be read as a reflection of what it’s like for Minn to be an artist.
Text by Brooke Valentine