Anu Pennanen

"Clean Air"

The video installation combines aerial views of Helsinki with a soundtrack consisting of recorded breathing sounds of 30 immigrants living in the city. This simple juxtaposition describes the experience of being an outsider. In the summer of 2002 Helsinki advertised itself as the capital with the cleanest air in Europe. This video installation makes an overt reference to this statement, which could also be interpreted as a manifestation of the non-mixed, almost exclusively white, ethnic “purity” of the Finnish territory.

The installation includes an audio CD on which these people say their names. The intimacy of breathing and self-identification by saying one’s name accompany the vast city views. These views are open for the all-seeing lens of the camera, yet it is difficult to recognize the landscapes disappearing and reappearing from the clouds. The gaze above the city closes itself into a continuous panning movement.

« Helsinki: The capital with the cleanest air in Europe? My immediate intention with the 2004 video installation “ Clean Air ” was to make the presence of 30 immigrants living in the city suddenly tangible, visible and audible through the sound of their breath. Nobody wants to be nameless; nobody should dissolve into something nameless. “ Clean Air ” represents the repressed presence of outsiders coming back to haunt us ».

. Anu Pennanen

Artist and filmmaker Anu Pennanen has been working on participatory films and other projects, mostly in urban public spaces, since 1999. She creates cinematic narratives with people situated or living in alienating architectural structures of power. Urban public spaces serve as backdrops for events acted by people, over a given period of time. Film is used as a reflexive medium and a productive space to re-negotiate with reality. Anu Pennanen has been exhibiting widely internationally since 2004.

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