UNcontrol – Mari Keto
If a situation or an activity is uncontrolled, no-one is controlling it or preventing it from continuing or growing. If you have control of something or someone, you are able to make them do what you want them to do.
- Collins dictionary.com
UNcontrol is an exhibition about a material world undergoing a change and about using natural resources in alternative ways. Renewable energy and the current environmental condition are issues that concern us all. Finnish artist Mari Keto has spent the past years working with these themes through the various projects presented at this exhibition.
Mari Keto was born in Finland and she lives and works in Copenhagen. Growing up near the Finnish forest, nature has always been close to her heart. The contrast between her childhood environment and the city in which she now lives is often mirrored in her work. Trained in design, jewelry and smithery her works possess a strong presence of traditional craftmanship mixed with innovative engineering, scientific research and unconventional materials. In later years her interests have taken a step towards origin, re-cycling and environmentally friendly solutions.
In Mari Keto’s conceptual and often process-based works the brutal meets the beautiful. Using humor and irony she invites us to think about the current state of the world and issues such as consumption, the human and environmental costs of our modern lifestyle and the consequences of an unstable use of natural resources. She focuses on the small to scientifically and philosophically reflect on our entry into the Anthropocene – the geological epoch during which human activity is considered to be the dominant influence on the environment, climate, and ecology of the earth.
The rose rugosa was brought to Denmark from Asia in 1800 for decorative purposes. Already by 1875 the plant was found growing wild in nature. Today this beautiful but spiky plant can be found almost everywhere, and it is nearly impossible to get rid of. Good or innocent intentions can have damaging consequences when new plants or animals are introduced to our nature causing problems to the original flora and fauna.
The increasing amount of heavy metals, such as lead and zinc, found in the atmosphere has a major impact on birds. Birds living in large cities or next to highways are exposed to these metals in such quantities it affects their possibilities to reproduce. Unaware of the threat to their species, the birds continue living their everyday lives. The 365 feathers, collected in Copenhagen, and the dead stuffed crow, picked from the roadside, are partly electroformed using copper, bronze and silver. They comment a situation in which birds no longer live according to the conditions of nature, but those of heavy metal emissions.
Alchemy = any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.
Today value is often understood as financial value, as the material or monetary worth of something. Time is also money and time saving machines and applications are highly appreciated. Mari Keto is an urban miner and collects metals such as zamac, aluminum and copper from everyday waste. In 2019 she teamed up with solar power specialists Cedric Carles and Station-E in Paris to build solar casting equipment with a kiln for casting. Solar casting is a slow process, but the project resulted in a jewelry series. What gives this series value are the re-cycled materials and the visual appearance, but also the togetherness of creating.
Bees, Bugs And Birds
For the past couple of years Mari Keto has been working with non-human lifeforms. Bees, bugs and birds is a jewelry series developed together with different animals. The series explores the possibilities of human and non-human collaborations. It’s a long-term project in which she works with nature on its own premises.
Rare In Common (Bees, bugs and birds)
Small birds are disappearing on a concerning speed. Part of the cause are chemicals. We rarely think of everyday household items like sugar, salt, dishwashing powder or soda, as harming substances. Yet the beautiful natural structures on these eggshells have been created using such household chemicals. The eggshells are a shell collection from the 60’s displaying eggs of now mainly disappeared bird species. The egg is a symbol of life, but nesting is becoming a human privilege.
Queen B 1
Bees and other pollinating insects play an essential role in ecosystems. A third of all our food depends on their pollination. A world without pollinators would be devastating for food production.
The population of bees is declining dramatically manly due to pesticides and monoculture. For the past two years, Mari Keto has worked with industrial beekeepers and taken action by transforming wasteland into a honeybee paradise with a beehive and flowers. In return she asks the bees to make her wearables that celebrate their co-operation. The result is a jewelry collection where the bees have reworked given forms. As the bees think differently from humans, the outcome is always a surprise.
Queen B 2
Reproducibility is declining and an increasing number of children are born from mothers they are not genetically related to. I am one of those moms. Reproducing is the purpose of a woman and I could not full fill it. Today I have a most wonderful little boy. I have given birth to him, but I’m not genetically his mom. This has given me a lot to think about and to work on.
– Mari Keto
Bees are dependent on one individual, the queen, to reproduce. With a declining reproducibility among humans, fertility is no longer something to be taken for granted. Through her own experience of questioning her femininity due to her incapability of having children, Queen B is as much about bees as it is about femininity and girl power.
Plastic is now to be found everywhere in the world. As many other creatures Caddis larvae use materials from their natural surroundings to build their cocoons. Plastic is filling it more and more and to a certain point they can adapt. Mari Keto collected glitter and other elements she found in the streets after a new year’s celebration in Copenhagen. She adopted a family of caddis larvae an gave them a new living environment. These works are created in collaboration with these insects. Something that gives us pleasure for a brief moment becomes a permanent part of the ecosystem for many human generations – not to mention insect generations.