Home Is Where My Mouth Is
Helsinki Contemporary, Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki Contemporary begins the new year with a solo exhibition featuring previously unseen works by Artor Jesus Inkerö. In these debuting works, images and actions materialize as words, and text functions as gesture. Using house paints on paper, the artist has inscribed phrases that are deeply personal, political and associative, such as Home is Where My Mouth is, Extreme Form of Hedonism, and Architectural Sodomy. Besides invoking linguistic structures, the handwriting – by virtue of its material – suggests home renovation or remodelling. The exhibition additionally marks the premiere of Inkerö’s new video piece made in collaboration with various artists.
Thematically, Home Is Where My Mouth Is explores the domain between the private and the public. Following up their previous studies of queer identity and social issues, Inkerö’s recent work examines the nature of queer space and the need for queer architecture. In the displayed works, architecture is linked directly to the body and corporeal experience. The contemporary ethos is reflected in the recurring word ‘home’, which for Inkerö represents a site of human agency. The works express the artist’s thoughts on the changing nature of families and their status as an institution. “I feel that certain social roles and power structures are being reshaped. For instance what does ‘community’ mean in relation to home and family?"
Inkerö’s relationship with language and writing is a significant one – it is through writing that they have found connections with other people. “Writing by hand has always been the germinal starting point for all my art, whether ceramics or performance. Written text is always at the core.” Writing is also central to the work of the American painter Cy Twombly, who began combining text and expressionistic brushwork in the 1960s. Echoing Twombly, Inkerö’s handwriting is a material expression of today’s ethos, alluding to things beyond itself, and blurring the line between the maker and the experiencer. The final interpretation is left up to the reader.
The works in the exhibition convey a powerful message, yet not in an insistent or dogmatic way. The painted texts seem to expand rather than reduce ideas. Humour plays a central role. The artist for instance embraces ‘himbo’ subculture. This aptly named masculine equivalent of the clichéd bimbo is muscular, handsome – and stupid. The term challenges academic discourse and offers an alternative way of processing the world. “I see himbo culture as a fascinating take on an understanding of stupidity that permits things to be experienced through the body instead of theory, or where theory becomes part of corporeal experience without necessarily needing a verbal equivalent.”
Installation photos: Jussi Tiainen / Helsinki Contemporary