Berit Talpsepp-Jaanisoo

Collector’s Garden


‘A statue must live: its flesh must come to life, its face and expression must speak. We must believe that we touch it and feel that it warms under our hands. We must see it stand before us and feel that it speaks to us.’

J.G. Herder, ‘Sculpture’

In my work with figurative objects, I have been interested in the far-reaching tradition of depicting human figure, and the object’s relationship with its spectators on different levels. Besides the subjective fantasies projected upon a lifeless object and various possibilities of experiencing its presence as a spectator, I have been interested in the unconscious processes that take place in the physical practice of working with figures, and the shifts that appear within the dynamics between artist and objects throughout the working process.

In an exhibiting context, the human-like object is situated into the same physical space with its spectators, being capable of triggering various reactions and feelings, but it won’t respond to them with anything else than its physical presence. The melancholy inhuman frozenness of the statue and its complete indifference to spectators create a static, inaccessible space of its own. Due to its indifference and inaccessibility, the object starts to control the situation, reversing the traditional relationship between the object and the spectator.

A 16th century engraving of a wealthy collector’s garden was my departure point for this exhibition (Maarten van Heemskerck’s Garden of the Casa Galli (1532–1535)). On the engraving, antique statues can be seen next to Renaissance treasures; statues and fragments of sculptures along with architectural elements lay casually in the yard, interacting with the space and one another.

For the exhibition, I have assembled historically renown sculptures that I have admired by using them as starting points for my works. I think one of the drives for collecting things is getting the control over the desirable object back by possessing it, and by bringing it into one’s own space, hence breaking its inaccessibility. However, the object still remains indifferent and does not seem to show any form of affection.

If sculpture is possessed by the collector, does she really own this object? To what extent does artwork, after it starts a life of its own, belong to an artist? Could a desired object be possessed at all?

Berit Talpsepp-Jaanisoo (born 1984, Estonia) is a Finland based visual artist. She received her Master’s Degree in the Glasgow School of Art in 2011. Since then, her works have been visible in different art venues in Finland, UK, Estonia and elsewhere. Talpsepp-Jaanisoo’s practice is in sculpture and photography. In her recent work that combine the two mediums, she has explored the traditional and new meanings of figurative sculpture, and how it relates to the qualities of photography.

The exhibition is supported by Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Finnish Art Society.

Watch the interview with the artist here.