NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

“Let’s say we have 50 animals here. And we know that this horrific test will lead to a cure that will save thousands of other animals or humans.”

Riikka Gröndahl’s exhibition Absent Referent shows video and text installations. The works in the exhibition explore the ways in which humans give meaning to the use of nonhuman animals in scientific settings.

The term absent referent is used in linguistics to describe a sign which has a non-existent
or undefined referent, such as nothing or void. In the animal rights context, absent referent
has been used to explain how an individual animal’s life and death can be absent from the definitions that make possible its use as a product or an instrument.

Video installation Absent Referent shows footage of two situations. The first, a microsurgery course where rats undergo vivisection in the training of surgeons, and the second of people watching and reacting to this training. Text installation The Committee delves into the dynamics of animal research ethical committees. These committees decide on the use of animals in scientific research, by weighing the harm caused to the animals against the potential benefit of the study. Both works address the entwined relations of violence and care. The accumulation of knowledge for better care for some, completely rests on the violence done to others. This relation is often seen as necessary. The extensive standardisation of procedures, models, and protocols deems the relation not only necessary, but normal. Animals are used in research, because animals have been used in research.

Riikka Gröndahl lives and works in Gothenburg, Sweden. She holds a MFA in Fine Art from the University of Gothenburg. She works mainly with video, but uses also text, sound and site-specificity as her ways of communicating. Gröndahl’s documentary-based works rise from research periods where she gathers knowledge based on lived experience. She meets and interviews a variety of people for each work, leading the works to often take polyvocal forms.

Gallery name: Galleria Huuto

Address: Eerikinkatu 36 / Kalevankatu 43, Helsinki

Opening hours: Tue-Sun 12:00 - 17:00

Open: 24.05.2019 - 16.06.2019