Black Box: Risto-Pekka Blom

April 27, 2015 – August 9, 2015
Still from Kurdrjavka [Little Ball of Fur], 2013. © Risto-Pekka Blom

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Independence Ave. at 7th St., SW
Washington, DC

Lower Level, Black Box Floor Plan

Media artist Risto-Pekka Blom (Finnish, b. 1970, Mikkeli; lives and works in Tampere) is featured in the newest exhibition in the Black Box space. The exhibition consists of a single work, “Kurdrjavka [Little Ball of Fur]” (2013). It is the first U.S. museum presentation of the artist’s work.

On the surface, Blom’s video is a slyly unassuming homage to Laika (aka Kurdrjavka), who in November 1957, as the canine passenger of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2, became the first animal to orbit the Earth. Although never intended to survive the voyage, the animal perished prematurely, a day or two into the flight, a fact that was suppressed for decades.

With segments devoted to typical ceremonies for political leaders and government functionaries, this cine-poem is also a critique of the pomp and hypocrisy of officialdom. “In his juxtaposition of images, Blom employs the absurdist strategies developed by dada artists a century ago,” said Hirshhorn curator Kelly Gordon, who has organized the Black Box series since it was inaugurated in 2005.