During the 2011 Venice Biennale, a tree came crashing down upon the Aalto Pavilion—and now, just in time for the Biennale’s 55th iteration, Finnish artist Antti Laitinen brings the pavilion back to its roots with an installation that transports the forest of Finland to the city of water.
But how—and why—would he bring a plot of woods from Finland to Venice? Armed with hammer and nail and an evergreen patience for taxonomic sorting, Laitinen presents two projects: the first, his reassembly of five birch trees that were felled in Finland, chipped into firewood, and flown to Venice to be reconstructed in front of the Finnish pavilion. “The birch wood will turn into Frankenstein birches,” he said. “The working method is like when you’re putting a puzzle together and can’t find the right pieces, so you force them in place anyway.”
Inside the pavilion, Latitinen’s second project is a photographic triptych that tells the story of a 100-square meter plot of earth the artist extracted and sorted into a grid-like composition à la Piet Mondrian. After months of categorizing the branches, roots, peat, and wood—at times with the help of a vacuum cleaner as to separate moss from soil—Laitinen photographed his 100-square meter composition to pack (along with a modest 5,000 kilograms of birch) for his trip to the Biennale.
See the painstaking process of sorting branches for Forest Square at right, and be sure to visit the Finnish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale to see Antii Laitinen’s installation.
Images courtesy of Antii Laitinen