Elsa Salonen

Buni Buana (Hidden World)

natural elements collected from Indonesia and colours distilled or ground from them, glass, transparent acrylic paint, LED lights
2014-2015, dimensions variable, here 400x180x100 cm

Salonen collected various natural elements during her artist-in-residence in Java, Indonesia: rocks, plants, soil, volcanic ash as well as seashells, and pieces of dead corals drifted ashore. From each element, the artist distilled or ground a colour sample onto a microscopic slide. In addition, she painted images of nature spirits on the slides with transparent paint. These painted spirits, related to the animist worldview, become visible only through their shadows, in this way revealing a hidden layer of nature’s reality.

According to animism, for example, Indonesian and Finnish nature worship, every single plant, rock and tree is inhabited by an active agency, possibly even a spiritual consciousness, which has the right to live regardless of its instrumental utility to human needs.

Thematic consultancy / animism: religious studies scholar Graham Harvey, anthropologist Patrick Vanhoebrouck and the artist's Javanese friends: e.g. Arif Abdurachman and Bawep Kapalatama
Technical consultancy / local dye plants: batik artist Bawep Kapalatama 
Project location / artist-in-residence: Sewon Art Space, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2014 
Exhibition views: Adiacenze, Bologna, Italy, 2015 / Photographer: Jere Salonen

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A cosmos full of persons, only some of whom are humans.

Graham Harvey, Animism, 2005