Kristiina Lahde, Criss-Cross 1, embossing on paper, 2012, documentation by Toni Hafkenscheid
January 9th, 2015 to February 20th, 2015
Opening: February 6th, 5-8pm
Artist Talk: February 7th, 3pm
In Criss-Cross Kristiina Lahde presents print works that use real objects to leave ink traces or make embossed impressions into paper. Dice are used as stamps that record a series of motions. Familiar measuring tapes and set squares create layered geometric patterns as well as intricate masses of spirals and zigzags.
Text response by Erica Medritzki
Sometimes, when you have trouble falling asleep, you imagine you are braiding an endless rope of hair. You can relax into the thought of the repetitive gestures, the smooth criss-crossing of silky strands.
You don’t remember who taught you how to braid, but your hands have retained the lesson. The braid lives inside your hands, waiting to be summoned by your anxious daughter, your curious nephew, your aging mother. You reach out and touch her warm head, and your fingers glide over her skull. Gracefully, wordlessly, your hands busy themselves with the necessary movements, forming a simple, beautiful, ordered rope out of the chaos of a hundred thousand human hairs.
Imagine Kristiina Lahde’s practice as a long braid, with images and ideas passing over and under each other, forming a modest and elegant design.
Think of her gripping a tape measure, thumbs caressing the coated surface as a ribbon of numbers is pulled around the waist or bust. The measure is noticed and noted; the ribbon is dropped on the floor (or the printing press).
Think of the weight of dice in her hands, of the sound they make as they jostle each other in the hidden space between her palms, and of the sound of the pencil as it schh schh schhs against paper, twinning marks made by ink and chance.
Think of blind prints: images made by what isn’t there, capturing the ghosts of everyday objects, making their absence visible to fingertips.
Now think of how much the world hurts us. How swiftly chaos arives and madness descends. How cruel we can be.
When things fall apart and the centre will not hold, consider the courage and comfort of domestic labour. Whenever dough is kneaded, sidewalks are shovelled, seeds are planted, and hair is braided, a tiny victory has been won. Magically, absurdly, these daily acts of resistance keep the overwhleming force of entropy at bay.
Kristiina Lahde helps to put things in order. With impeccable craftsmanship and a Protestant work ethic, she makes art that makes a kind of sense. Although her work sometimes gestures towards the nihilism of the abyss (as in her spiralling collages of isolated zeros), or implies the dangerous intimacy of “Everything” and “Nothing” (in her “Kalidescope” series, fragmented words are repeated like a spell), ultimately, order prevails: patterns are created, forms are tidy and pleasing, and fragments are beautifully arranged. Even when Lahde plays at slicing, dicing, or scattering, even when she obscures or erases, even when she calls on the vagaries of chance, everything comes out right in the end.
This exhibition of Kristiina Lahde’s work is called Criss-Cross. Or, to put it another way, this exhibition signs its name with an X.
X means the wrong answer, not this way, don’t do that. But x is also a kiss, cross my heart, the thing that marks the sweet spot.
Lahde flirts with x as negation, but ultimately her work fixes itself as a centre that holds: this x is the gesture made by clasped hands and overlapping strands of hair.
The x at the heart of Lahde’s practice is not the defiant NO! of the old avant-garde. Her art doesn’t reject conventional morality or threaten the patriarchy or shriek with glee or howl with despair. It’s not wildly ambitious or thrillingly new. But it is very lovely, and well-made, and satisfying. It reminds you of the quiet pleasures of holding objects in your hands, of putting things in rows, of drawing straight lines. It creates a space where you can throw the dice without losing your house; where you can bend the rules without breaking your heart. Art, like domestic labour, can comfort. It can protect you (however briefly) from the crushing anarchy of life. It can offer you a moment of grace.
When you go to bed tonight, you think of braiding hair until you fall asleep. As the strands criss-cross into the night, you dream of some kind of peace.
Kristiina Lahde is an artist from Toronto, Canada. She received her BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in 1999. Lahde works in collage, sculpture and installation. She has presented her work in a number of solo and group exhibitions at venues including Koffler Gallery, Anna Leonowens Gallery, The Power Plant, The Art Gallery of Hamilton and as part of the Biennale De Montréal in 2011. In 2013 Kristiina Lahde was nominated for the Sobey Art Award Longlist. Lahde’s work is in various collections including the Canada Council Art Bank, BMO and TD, as well as a number of private collections.
Kristiina Lahde is represented by MKG127, Toronto.