AGORA: Hanna Johansson

Thursday 25 August, 10:15–11:45
Sibelius Museum

The Real and Imaginary Breeze. Air in The Visual Arts

“… air never takes place in the mode of an ‘entry into presence’ – except in wind?” (Luce Irigaray)

My presentation approaches the ways and means of the visual arts to present and represent the element of air. I focus my attention to wind or breeze and ask how the almost invisible air can be brought into the scope of visuality and sensuality, and in addition what kind of tasks wind and breeze have in the history of visual art, and how these relate to the urgent reflections on the airy phenomena. 

Picture of Hanna Johansson
Photo: Eeva Anundi

In contemporary art the works that deal with air are often drawing viewers’ attention to the invisible actors and actants that are in connection to life-supporting atmosphere. On the other hand, contemporary works consider the obscure relation between art, life and artificiality. However, air and wind are not only current subjects in the arts but have been an important element in painting already in the early Renaissance, although had not been seen before Aby Warburg (1866—1929) made it an art historical subject.

Hanna Johansson is an art historian, who currently works as the dean of the Academy of Fine Arts, University of the Arts. She is also a professor of contemporary art research at the Academy of Fine Arts and an adjunct professor at the University of Helsinki. Contemporary art and its ecological dimensions as well as conceptual art are her core areas of expertise. Recently she has written mostly on the representation of air as well as about the representation of weather in the visual arts. She has published widely on contemporary art and artists in Finland and beyond. Johansson has had several positions of trust, for example on the grant board of the Finnish Art Association, at the board of HIAP, the advisory board of IHME Helsinki and as a member of the board of FRAME Finland.