Cosmetic Space

Hanna Haaslahti

42 x 59.4 cm, Hand pulled screen print. Edition of 30

Haaslahti merges past and present in her interactive intervention in Lord Burlington’s neo-Palladian Ionic Temple in the beautifully restored gardens of Chiswick House.  Her accompanying print draws together the outlines of her enquiry into classicism and the way its forms are repeated, translated and mutated throughout history. Lying peacefully in front of the Temple on the perfect circle of the Mirror Lake, the artist floats the reclaimed gestures reinterpreting those broken off the Roman statues originally housed in the Temple.  Their powers of communication reinvigorated, the gestures signal randomly towards the past, present and future.  They reappear in Cosmetic Space encased in the images of the overblown bodies of bodybuilders.  Their exaggerated and strange imitation of classical beauty eschews the balance between mind and body in favour of an external costume of musculature.

The perfectly proportioned young face sits awkwardly on top of this hyperbolic stereotype of male heroism, gazing fervently upwards.  The bodies are squeezed between the diagonals derived from the dimensions of the niches inside the Temple, caught between ideas of utopian geometry and universal beauty.  Both the print and the installation create a stark contrast between the perceived solidity of the old and the very real instability of material and information in our own, the digital era.