1965, Orimattila, Finland, lives in Orimattila.
Forests, rivers, untouched nature. Yet only at first glance does Ilkka Halso’s series Museum of Nature suggest idyllic scenes. For as the title already indicates, nature turns out in this work to be a commodity on display, set under a museum-style bell jar in order to give future human beings an idea of what untouched nature was like. Halso builds architectonic structures meant to protect the landscapes they enclose – protect them against the environmental degradation caused, and promoted, by man, against industrialization and forest clearing. His buildings, that is to say, are protective covers of a sort against their own builder. In a commercialized world, however, attracting visitors is part of the raison d’être of museums, and so the (digitally) engineered protective shield must be pierced, and roller coasters or theatrical settings added so that audiences will be entertained and have ‘fun’ despite the serious implications of the scenarios presented to them. Even though the artist would rather not see his construction plans implemented, the pessimistic vision of the future they render is perfectly realistic. Today’s urban zoos with their glasshouses, theme walks and prominently advertised wildlife feeding times demonstrate that the first steps in that direction have already been taken.