Installation, dimensions variable; 2010
Ink and aquarelle on index cards, size of each card 15 x 10 cm
Drawings/paintings made on 100 year old library index cards, found in a dumpster in Rome in February 2010. My additions write over the notes, emphasizing the interpretative aspect of both visual art and scientific research. Both employ fragments from which a "greater picture" evolves.
Kaisu Koivisto: Index
As a visual artist I mostly employ salvaged and recycled materials such as old leather jackets for my installations and objects. The process of locating materials includes also “random treasures” found on the streets, dumpsters or second hand stores; or, gifts from people who know my interests.
In spring 2010 I spent five months in Rome at the Finnish Institute. While curiously exploring historical sites and neighborhoods I happened to find amid rubbish - as an “archeologist of the present” - boxes which contained old library index cards. After consulting historians it became evident that the index cards are approximately hundred years old. The cards deal mostly with books on the Italian Risorgimento of the 19th century, an ideological and literary movement to unite a nation which was dominated by several states. Some titles on the index cards refer to medicine and classical literature.
The function of library index cards is to organize information by a set of rules, for example by arranging the titles of the works in alphabetical order by the names of the authors. Out of its context, the postcard-sized (15 x 10 cm) cards, executed in beautiful calligraphy on various kinds of paper, became a starting point for a quest to make a work which comments the fragmentary, contextualizing and additive nature of history, and, narratives in general. I used ink and water color to make figures on the cards, the end result resembling the arbitrary images of a Rorschach-test in which one can recognize shapes and figures by free association.
Contemporary academic discourse on visual art images often refers to images as “texts” which are “read”. By adding one more layers on the index cards I seek to emphasize the interpretative and imaginative aspect of both visual art and scientific research. Both employ fragments and interpretation of multi-layered information from which a greater picture evolves. The result is often a mosaic-like entity which is subject to re-interpretation due to the shifting focus of interests and discourses.
The works made on index cards also manifest the passage of time and processes. I use the drawings as still images for a video animation, in which each drawing is a layer in a cumulating sequence of images/information.
I believe it is not crucial for the spectator to know fully about the political and historical subject matters stated on the cards. The textual information and my additions are melded into an image, in which the textual information is often surpassed by the visual cues, which extend the horizons of the imagination. The text, or parts of the text, is still visible on some of the cards, implying thus the political aspect of the making of a nation.
In addition to the postcard-sized index cards I found smaller cards the sizes of which are 9,5 x 6,5 cm and 13,5 x 7 cm. On these cards I made other works. One of them emphasizes the classifying nature of language and writing: I imposed grid-like ink drawings on the writing to emphasize or delete information. Another version is a lighthearted juxtaposition of dots, which encircle or eliminate words.
Each card 9,5 x 6,5 cm
Size of each card: 10 x 15 cm
Index. Forum Box, Helsinki 2011