Jyrki’s thoughts about signs of power


In my own artistic work the theme is related to the following questions: Who has power? Who has the ultimate power? Some believe that the power has to be taken and others believe that it is given. In fact, I defend the latter opinion. But, having been given the power, it requires responsibility, a wise and humble attitude to use it.

holyty (God’s reality ) I call my works Postmodern Icons, an attribute which I figured out during my visit to Valamo monastery in summer 2008.

What is the great story of my works? Should I verbalize it, since I have the power to make an allegory of their meanings and interpretations? Or should I leave my works open and let the audience do the interpretation? For me, my allegorical images of power are linked to the Orthodox icon art. People have expressed their belief with the help of icons almost two thousand years and created contacts from our reality to God’s reality. I do not use, however, Orthodox icons more than as a source of inspiration to achieve

Regarding my thinking and ideas, I am interested in the notion of “The power of the other side” or “Different power”. I link to this term, and related to the ideas of the work, as belonging to the Christian faith, its main content. It is the message of Jesus and his role in being a Saviour of mankind. I admit, it sound paradoxical, that I link my thoughts in this case to the notion of “Power of the other side”. In fact, The Catholic, Orthodox, and later the Protestant Churches have spread the Christian doctrine and have shaped the way people think, life, art, and society as a whole more than any other ideology or philosophical movement in the last 2000 years.

The icons are used to be seen as fetishes in the tradition of the Orthodox church. And they operate as windows between us and God. But, are the icons acting as nature or like God does, unpredictably, through some force we cannot see in advance. Can we really grasp nature, God, or the Holy Spirit s power, something that can not be managed in advance? This is for me an interesting topic, this is what I mean by “different power” or the “power of the other side”. Can an artefact pierce through the real world dimension and unite with God’s reality? Or is the whole question of Power absurd, in the world where everything is in God and from God?


Jyrki Toivanen 17.3.2009






One Response to “Jyrki’s thoughts about signs of power”

  1. “Can we really grasp nature, God, or the Holy Spirit s power, something that can not be managed in advance? ” This is what Jyrki suggests, is his idea of “another power”. In his statement, Jyrki comes up with a bold list of needs. What is the role and power of an art work, an artefact in Jyrki´s parlance, in relation to “God´s reality”?
    Jyrki does not stop there, as he finishes off with asking about his own question in face of another idea about God, that artefact versus God, can be resolved by understanding everything as being of God and in God. This is heavy stuff, metaphorically speaking, but is resounding and representing a perhaps globally dominant discourse, religious thinking and acting. What Jyrki is asking could be asked more or less the same way, I think, by a Buddhist, or Muslim, a Jew, or Christian, or somebody within the movement of New Age. Only the names of the concepts differ, terms refer to the same kind of awarenesses, intellectual (mostly binary) propositions – and mystical paradoxes. It is not only, that speech and writing become paradoxical and poetic in front of a religious discourse. Language itself is already a multitude of binary differences, in the linear chains of utterings more or less paradoxical. Language never reflect reality as we would wish it does. That´s why we tend to repeat and continue our speech. A binary language of codes running our computers do create effective similes of what we like to see and say. It seems, however, that these binary codes running in technologically constructed media, while creating effective illusions, they do their mimetic feats withthe help of how our good memory think is real. Illusion relies on our experiences, and we can let go, in language and in image, to believe AS-IF. Now, this AS-IF is probably a very strong object-lesson system that can help us through the day, even more, it can make us happily walk in to the circus and be eaten up by lions, as the Christians in Rome.

    I my words above, I wanted to create a relation between something we can not get at, that is, Jyrki´s conviction about the need for his Christian Faith, and his words. Logically, again logically as I´ve used the term in my comment to Minna, this relation between a set of signs, like a written statement, and its utterer or its references, as it were, as a statement of analogy will never be there to be prooved. Jyrki could be speaking of one-horned and winged animals, and the statement would be as logical as somebody else talking about colour pigments. Now, to enlarge the notion of power to things which can not be prooved, does not make the statement go away. It is there, for many of us as a poetic line about things experienced, by Jyrki.

    Jyrki is in his work searching for something. He wants that his own art work could be compared with an icon, used by the orthodox Christians. What if I would say, that my art work, or any one´s art work, function exactly like the Orthodox Icon? Then, to deny this, we must accept that the art work exists or does not exist depending on its theme? (How does this differ from what Joseph Kosuth says about the art work to be an art work?- can we come back to this?) Jyrki searches for a way to make his own icons, the kinds of icons he likes to call postmodern. A postmodern icon is, if I understand Jyrki rightly, a work of art that has the same kind of message, or content, or theme, that the Orthodox Icon, but is adjusted to two criteria, our time and place, contemporary society – and Jyrki. How to make something that can function as a window to God. Jyrki´s second question is relevant in asking about the necessity of this kind of binarity, the world and God, since we could ask if not the world is in God as well? I suspect that tons of debates, written and oral, has been produced about this question both in the East and West. The question resembles a Zen Buddhist koan, almost, or something Buddhists and Hindus can analyze in their sutras, or what Christian scholastics have been thinking about in the Middle Ages. For moral reasons, for our own good, it seems, that it is more wise to think about ourselves and God by a spatial difference. Logically, then, there is a need for a sign of God, or whatever goal, we would like to reach.

    In Orthodox theology, the Icon has its place, but according to the theologicians, one of them I´ve heard saying this, is that the icon, the window or reminder of God, can be anything. It can be a place, it can be a human person. Whatever reminds us of God, acts as an Icon. This is a possibility for Jyrki. But to make things more difficult, Jyrki is asking about the possibility for the Icon to be a work of Art. As Orthodox Icons differ, usually, by being anonymously painted or constructed, they are still valued and appreciated as works of art as well. Orthodox Icons function in several institutional formats, or discourses. But this, I think can somehow be happening within fine art as well. Art works can function as objects of research, as objects of therapy, or objects of commerce, besides being objects of communication, or, finally, as objects of art for the artist who wants to work within the discourses of art. I do not see any problems for Jyrki in his wish to construct a postmodern icon, if Jyrki goes for his power-related questions in having his questions formalized as themes of the work. Of, course, Jyrki has the option to make an Icon that looks very much or exactly follows the Orthodox tradition. It is a tradition that is currently in use. In my opinion, Jyrki may well read his own intentions and from there formulate such questions or intentions that can be formulated into imagery for his work. Another set of solutions may arrive through the notion of Icon as such, as I mentioned above. It can be anything that reminds us of God. But what is God?

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