Desire and caring

Desire and caring

MUU Cable, Helsinki / 5.8. – 11.9. 2016
Desire and Caring, installation

Find true love: Online dating tips. Installation with flowerpot, woodcarving and a carpet.

What would it look like if dating profiles were spaces in which people display objects that represent themselves? Aulis Harmaala’s installation explores objectification in the marketplace for happiness. Harmaala makes desire from carved wood, happiness from crumpled paper, personal communication from soap. What are the permissible ways to express one’s desirability?

We are fearful of expressing our love, longing, or lust. In our search for a partner, we resign ourselves to the regulation of intimacy. The impersonal marketplace of dating profiles turns individual personality into mediocre products. The same also applies in other areas: We eat whatever is most effortless and inexpensive, we accept things we are accustomed to.

Are we prepared to accept an entire person all at once? The diversity of sensation and feeling is cramped by the narrow default definitions of dating profiles, although they could potentially be used to develop innumerable social configurations and forms of interaction. Inclusion is a basic human need while deviancy is only allowed under forms dictated by norms. Smell and taste are banned. Individuality and a holistic attitude can be dangerous in a market economy. The largest profit margin is in stereotyped products wherein freedom consists of the freedom to choose between existing options.

The Australian bowerbird decorates its nest with objects to attract a mate. It uses objects to express its individuality. It is the same with humans. Believing in the power of strong signals, we dress up in clothes and jewellery, we use powerful words and simplified images. This kind of objectification is functional in the social arena. Objectification is the action of observing and thinking about something that is not an object as if it were one. At its simplest objectification makes life easier, because we are incapable of viewing every individual as different, with his or her individual thoughts and emotions.

In this installation, Aulis Harmaala positions himself outside the electronic realm to construct objects that both reveal and conceal. They hint at their maker through their materials and modes of presentation. Harmaala uses porn magazines as material, because its was from them that he understood as a child what physical love was. He uses wood, because it takes time and is difficult, just like personal relations. Are these objects desirable and loveable also to other people? According to Harmaala, they can give rise to an infinity of ideas, yet we should process personal matters slowly, away from the online world.

Muu Cable 2016

MUU Cable-gallery 2016, installation “Desire and caring”.
Wild strawberries in glass bottles, ceramics, print, wood, resin casts, suspenders, a jelly roll and a thermometer.