This manual accompanies the installation The Aalto Natives realised for the Finnish Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale by artists Nathaniel Mellors and Erkka Nissinen. It reveals the full story of Geb and Atum, two terraforming mythical creatures who are floating through space in a vessel shaped not unlike the structure of the Aalto Pavilion.
Exercising the all-encompassing knowledge that egg-borne mystical beings are typically blessed with, Geb and Atum mediate between the banal reality of objects and creatures, and the infinitely more advanced structures that lie beyond it. Along their mission of rebuilding Finland Geb, the wise father, and his rational-empirical son Atum, struggle to deal with the persistent faults, glitches, and transcendental mistakes they encounter in the formative stages of New Finland’s national development.
In the experience of Geb and Atum, culture presents itself as an eternal feedback loop of trial and error, a scatological dialectic of production and consumption, of shiny façades and vulgar essences, of bad mantras and glitchy technology, of sophisticated neanderthals and cosmic ducks. In all its grotesque display of failing social contracts and polarizing populism, it is surprisingly similar to the world we are living in today.
In short, this manual will guide you towards a more transcendental understanding of the human spirit. Please use it.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition at the Finnish Pavilion at the 57th International Exhibition of visual arts – La Biennale di Venezia, from May 13 to November 26, 2017.
Nathaniel Mellors (born 1974 in Doncaster, United Kingdom) studied at the University of Oxford’s Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, and the Royal College of Art in London. In 2007-2008 he was a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. In 2011 he was the recipient of the Cobra Museum Amstelveen’s Cobra Art Prize. In 2014 Mellors was awarded the UK Contemporary Art Society Prize. Recent solo exhibitions include: “Prequel Dump,” The Box, Los Angeles (2016); “HAMMER” Museum, Los Angeles (2014); “Ourhouse E.3 feat. BAD COPY,” Matt’s Gallery, London & Salle de Bains, Lyon 2012; “Ourhouse,” ICA, London (2011); “The Nest,” Cobra Museum, Amstelveen (2011); and “Ourhouse,” De Hallen Haarlem (2010).
Erkka Nissinen (born 1975 in Jyväskylä, Finland, lives and works in New York, Helsinki and Amsterdam) studied at The Slade School of Fine Art in London and gained an MFA degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, Finland in 2001. In 2007–2008 he was a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. Nissinen was awarded the Illy Prize at Art Rotterdam in 2011, and the AVEK Prize for media art in 2013. Recent solo exhibitions include: “God or Terror or Retro Dog”, De Hallen Haarlem (2015); “Mikä on yhteisö?,” Sorbus, Helsinki (2015); “Vantaa,” Hordaland Art Centre, Bergen (2015); “Erkka Nissinen,” Jyväskylä Art Museum, Jyväskylä, (2015).