Eija-Liisa Ahtila

Finnish (Hämeenlinna, Finland, 1959)

Lahja (The Present)

video installation | five-channel video installation, color, with sound
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  • Lahja (The Present)

    Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Lahja (The Present), 2001; five-channel video installation, color, with sound, dimensions variable; Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Chara Schreyer; © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / KUVASTO, Helsinki

Lahja "The Present" is comprised of five human dramas (Underworld, Ground Control, The Wind, The Bridge, The House), each constituting a different "channel" in a unified, if idiosyncratic, narrative. The footage is based on extensive interviews Ahtila conducted with individual women, in which the participants discussed their own experiences of psychological fragility. In Underworld, for example, a woman hides under her bed in fear. In The Wind, anger becomes a hurricane.

Each of the stories is shown on a separate monitor, and the segments run as a synchronized loop, with two of the stories playing simultaneously. Variable running times cause the monitors to play at different intervals. The process of emotional reconciliation is recurrent in the stories, all of which end with the same short text: "Give yourself a present, forgive yourself."

Dimensions variable
Acquired 2003
Collection SFMOMA
Purchase through a gift of Chara Schreyer
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / KUVASTO, Helsinki


children, girls, lying down, perspective, rocks

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