Page 23 - Matti Kalkamo / RAW
P. 23

Bronze and fury
The music most essential to Kalkamo’s life, punk, once played an important part in keeping alive and carrying forward the most essential inventions of artistic expression of the tradition of rock’n’roll: directness, emotional impact and efficiency, necessary grotesqueness and untamedness. At the same time, it developed and sharpened the status of rock as a kind of noteworthy form of cultural expression. Rock and punk (perhaps also slapstick comedies and absurd comics) were able to go beyond the point of ridiculousness and reach there the peak of their seriousness and insight; they were able to dig up equivocally meaningful clarity out of simplicity, allure and repetition. The essential thing about pop culture is always having to admit one’s relationship with a genre, no matter how short it might be.
In its own way, Kalkamo’s art also maintains the finest inventions in sculpture in the field of contemporary art. For centuries, the most prominent feature of the genre of sculpture has been the infinite attraction of the human figure, that sculpted, material human’s emotionally almost physically heart-rending relationship with the person observing it. Sculpture has a special relationship with remembering the dead or the past, which in turn involves a fantasy of the resurrection of what is being remembered, and with all that, with the person observing the sculpture remembering his or her own mortality. In addition, sculpture has tended to involve a major statement about the values encompassed by society or the community in its deepest essence, about the part of man, about who or what rules over us or what we should believe in. In this tradition, sculpture is always about world-view, politics or religion, but it also deals with the life and mortality of an individual person – over and over again, with slight variations, creating new perspectives. Kalkamo’s art of sculpture admits to continuing this ancient genre – in the field of contemporary art.
Such features have remained quite distant, however, in a large part of the sculpture seen today. Typical characteristics of contemporary sculpture often include breaking the hierarchies of materials, avoidance of a plastic and representational form and the pronouncedly untraditional spreading of objects around the space. Against this sculptural landscape, Kalkamo’s formful, technically solid, polished and if necessary, monumentally pretentious sculpture that seeks to crystallize thought and sometimes utilizes some of the more traditional materials looks like a good rock’n’roll song. In other words, it appears against an environment that is dominated by feeling about, suggesting nothing directly, the vagueness of the subject, inclusiveness by way of precaution and all-penetrating irony. Furthermore and finally for real, we need to keep in mind that efficiency does not make Kalkamo-style sculpture any simpler or more dismissible than art that muddies its goals. Rock is not simplified serious music; it is music that is serious in a different way.
For a work of art can easily be as ambivalent and contradictory as a person’s life, even if its general form is poignant. Such a work can be ambivalent in an even more touching way than a work that proclaims its diversity endlessly and as its primary message.

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