If 6 was 9
The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'If 6 was 9' is a video installation by the Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila in which three images of the same size are projected side by side. The images are of teenage girls in everyday situations, on their own or with girlfriends. One girl is walking out of a shop, coming home or standing in the kitchen. Another one is looking through a magazine or painting her nails. Later, five of them play cards together. A woman’s voice talks in the first person about events and reflections in the past and the present. She speaks Finnish, but there are English subtitles for all three projections. The voice narrates, sometimes working like a voice-over, and sometimes it is as though one of the girls is speaking herself. The text is above all about sexual desires and about experiences, fantasies and reflections on this.
As Ahtila said herself, her work is concerned with human dramas. She tried to record a particular time. The relationships between different generations and sexes play an important role in this. Ahtila constructs a story from her own memories or those of others, using the possibilities of image, sound, story, environment and characters combined in different ways.
By using split-screen presentations she opted for a form in which she showed different stories or different sides of one story at the same time. In addition she played with the possibility of coordinating pictures and sounds, or not. This could be confusing, for example, when you see a teenager talking and the voice says: ”In fact, I’m 38 years old”. The neutral documentary-like way in which the voice talks is in curious contrast with the very personal character of the experiences being described.
This video is all about what society thinks women should be allowed or not allowed to say out loud. There is a marked contrast between girls’ and women’s attitudes and what we read in the subtitles: "Only later I heard that women have three holes", says one. Unlike men, sexual desire and questioning are not things women should be talking about since society has charged them with the task of being good wives and mothers. However, men, women and non-binary people all have feelings and question themselves. As such, they should all be allowed to talk about them openly.
%>Tags: discrimination, questioning, reclaim
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