Gasworks presents the first UK institutional solo exhibition by Finland-based artist Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen. Making use of nature as raw material, Laakkonen’s process-based practice and durational works reflect on the profound impact of human interactions with the environment, while addressing wider existential concerns around time, death and the limits of scientific knowledge.
At Gasworks, the artist will present a newly-commissioned performance and large-scale sculpture entitled Framed Sea Cow. This ongoing work is based on the features of a skeleton, documented by German explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller, of a female sea cow killed in 1742, just one year after the species was ‘discovered’. The species is considered to have gone extinct shortly afterwards in 1768, making it the first historical extinction of a marine mammal at human hands.
Presented as a durational performance, Laakkonen’s work will bring the Steller’s sea cow back into existence, as the artist carefully crafts and assembles, throughout the duration of the exhibition, a wooden replica of this extinct creature’s skeleton, based solely on the written description provided by Georg Wilhelm Steller in the 18th century. Like a ship built in a bottle, the resulting sculpture will remain dramatically suspended inside the gallery.
The exhibition is commissioned and produced by Gasworks with generous support from the Finnish Institute. Gasworks commissions are supported by Catherine Petitgas and Gasworks Exhibitions Supporters.
Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen is an artist based in Rovaniemi, Finland. Recent solo exhibitions include Kunstverein München, Munich (2019); Kohta, Helsinki (2017); Corvi-Mora, London (2017 and 2015). He has exhibited internationally at organisations Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; Ystads Konstmuseum, Ystad; Lofoten International Art Festival, Svolvær; MHKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp; and KHM Gallery, Malmö.