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The Surrounding Moment, text by Aura Seikkula


“The aim in my practice is to try to create something that would actually be meaningful. Something, which would change our perception of the moment, our occupation in it. Eventually ourselves.”

Hans Rosenström constructs narratives into spatial experiences in public, social and private domains. Rosenström challenges the definitions of the everyday spaces. He defines his work both site- and situation-specific. He states the impossibility to separate a work of art, or any object, event, encounter, from the contextual moment. The point of origin is the surrounding moment.

For him working in public space always starts with finding something identifiable and specific for a location. He pays attention to social structures in order to shed light upon the site from a different viewpoint that for example a local passer-by is used to in experiencing. With this Rosenström is looking for ways on intervening and even confusing everyday perception. However, his aim is not to lay down the rules of his work but rather to set the stage for alternatives and questions. He aspires for accidental and unexpected insights.

One of his latest site-specific intervention ‘Beacon’ (2008) took place at the Thomas Mann Festival in Nida, Lithuania, that aimed to discuss the identity politics of Baltic region. Rosenström approached the event with an installation that reflected on the geopolitical location and status. The beacon is a dying neon sign that has authenticity in it so that it would be easy to even register it as an ever-existing piece by the pier. This puts the work not only in direct dialogue with its surroundings but also sets the stage for conceptual approaches. The Beacon contemplates with a certain kind of nostalgia that the sea embodies. It questions the importance of the past in the present and challenges of sustainability.

Rosenström approaches gallery space from a different point of view, by constructing physical landscapes and installations. Rosenström uses light, sound and other immaterial substances in combination with the built architectural spaces. With these constructions he aims to re-build the space rather construct something in or for the space. Rosenström often aspires for circumstances that allow his gallery-based works to be experienced alone, in order to enable and to support the exhibition visitor’s subjective experience. He wants to confront the exhibition visitor by questioning the possibilities, limitations and realisations of this very moment.

Rosenström’s ‘Her Presence Still’ (2007) at the Biennale of Young Artists in Tallinn took place in a room of the Rüütelkonna building, in the historic precinct of Tallinn’s Old Town. Rosenström deployed that architectural piece from the 19th century by creating an ambience for a tale that has lived in his family but of which he only very recently heard. The story and its telling occasion had such an impact on him that he decided to work with it. He brought this intimate moment of story telling to a public event and succeeded in creating an abstract space state in time.

Even though Rosenström constructs his work, both in the urban and in an art space as an actual part of the environment, he makes this critically in order to question and to disagree with the routines of a space. In both of the approaches Rosenström is interested in constructing places for subjective encounters. Rosenström says that for him art is not an object in it self, but rather an encountering with oneself. In these encounters the artwork has a role of an undefined mediator as the reflection may or may not happen. Rosenström is balancing between the rational and the emotional, between finding something new and being (willingly) totally lost. Rosenström’s ideology seems simultaneously ingenuous and cynical. He tests the potential of the context every time he exhibits. The beauty in it is the unknown result. It is rare that someone truly employs the process in the name of coincides in art.

Hans Rosenström (b. 1978)

Lives and works in Helsinki.

Rosenström holds an MFA from the  Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki. He works with site-specific projects using both time and space as points of origin in his artistic practice. He has exhibited widely internationally.

Text by Aura Seikkula

Aura Seikkula is an independent curator. She runs the Korjaamo Gallery in Helsinki, Finland.