Astronauts returning home

Image: Courtesy the artist.

4 November 2023 – 27 January 2024

Visits and guided tours every Saturday between 12:00 and 18:00.

Astronauts returning home

After a mission, the astronauts remain in the capsule until they reach the ground. This capsule first penetrates from space into the increasingly dense layers of air on the planet and is slowed down by air friction when it reaches the upper layers of the atmosphere. Temperatures of over 1000 degrees can occur, which is why these spacecrafts must have a protective shield. Through the window, the astronauts see the air glowing, plasma and fire burning due to the high speed and temperatures around them. From the ground, it can be observed very similarly to the plasma trail of a shooting star.

People feel particularly attached to a place, and usually it is the place where they grew up that they call home. The Finnish artist Marianna Uutinen also keeps returning to her home in Helsinki after living in Berlin for a while. A return is a metaphor for the ambivalent state of being, both spiritual and cosmic and still very human and materialistic. Just as the astronauts light up the sky when they re-enter the atmosphere another exhibition in Berlin shines for Marianna Uutinen. Her paintings are abstract and yet they represent energy in form of light. Like the glow of the capsule caused by plasma and fire in the atmosphere, the paintings shine in different light conditions. In one series, the light dichromatically takes up the entire surface; in another, the glitter on a black background suggests a starry sky.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. It is up to us. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known. (from ‚Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space‘, Carl Sagan)

Written by Federico Brauer

Marianna Uutinen (b. 1961, Finland) lives and works in Berlin and Helsinki. Uutinen has exhibited at numerous institutions throughout Europe. Using her signature technique, Uutinen fuses together thick layers of acrylic paint, building up a skin-like structure, which is then draped across the surface of a traditional canvas. Each overlaying gesture negates, blends and reveals the accumulation of her actions. The act of painting and the paint itself become entangled in their own reflexivity with ecstatic and hauntingly visceral results.