Hana-bi at Stora Galleriet, Konstnärshuset / Stockholm

Hana-bi / Curated by Ashik Zaman

Ebba Alling, Iris Hautaniemi and Wilma Harju

9 June – 9 July 2022

Stora Galleriet, Konstnärshuset
Smålandsgatan 7
111 46 Stockholm

Iris Hautaniemi, installation view, Hana-bi, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm

Hana-bi, installation view, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm

Iris Hautaniemi, Watching Me Watching You, 2022

Iris Hautaniemi, Poor Child of Sin

Iris Hautaniemi, Lucifer Has Many Lovers (2022)
Hana-bi, installation view, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm, 2022

Ebba Alling, Comets (2022)

Ebba Alling, Chasing My Tail (2022), installation view, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm


Wilma Harju, Bat out  of Hell (2022), Konstnärshuset, Stockholm

Wilma Harju, Phantom Yellow(2022), Konstnärshuset, Stockholm

Q: The exhibition is intended as a statement. In what way?

Ashik Zaman: I’ve thought a lot about how boundaries between artistic disciplines at art schools locally have been dissolving over the years, allowing artists a lot of freedom to create whatever they wish, irrespective of the formal classification of their study programme. That means that someone pursuing a MA in Textile might end up presenting something that visually and materially appears to relate not much at all to textiles or someone studying Spatial Design creating sculptures closer to what fit into Fine Art. What happens after school however is that such boundaries are reinforced which becomes a skewed condition for certain artists. It feels deceptive when you are led to believe that the same freedom at school translates as easily into a reality outside. I mean how often do you really see somebody who studied Spatial Design in the scope of a first-tier gallery exhibition? The three artists Wilma Harju, Ebba Alling and Iris Hautaniemi in this exhibition are all BA ’22 graduates in Graphic Design & Illustration at Konstfack, while all working with painting and sculpture. I met them as we were making C-print’s The Future Watch Issue in print last year with their class and I kept thinking that they had so much potential as contemporary artists, while not stemming from a Fine Art background per se. For me it became a note to self about why we as curators continuously need to look for artists outside of the box. As curators we do have the agency to change the pecking order. It’s a choice we have.

Q: How does your work in the exhibition approach the scope of fireworks?

Ebba Alling: As a group we worked very closely with the theme, discussed it and twisted and turned it to find different angles. I think one thing all our work has in common is how it’s relating to fireworks as illusions, the illusion of a change, a romance or the fair. The colours blinding us, concealing  the sight that maybe we’re running in circles. 

In one of my work ‘Chasing My Tail’, a hanging plexi installation I wanted to explore the ambivalent, the conflicting feelings I associate with fireworks. The festive and the sad. The sky takes up a big part of our vision , still we rarely look there. Only when we see reflections of ourselves there. What happens if I freeze their shapes in time? Freeze them and play with their shapes to think of what they mean.

Iris Hautaniemi: My approach to fireworks has been through the lens of a love story. In romantic comedies there is often a scene where the love interests after a long search (maybe new year’s eve), finally find each other. As they share a kiss, fireworks explodes in the background. 

I kinda wanted to respond to this very cliche imagery of fireworks in movies. Fireworks are beautiful as they lit up the sky but it’s gone before you have time to let it sink in. Almost impossible to take a good picture of it. I’ve used the devil as a metaphor in this work. Something deceiving by nature and extremely charming. I imagine a romance with the devil to be like fireworks. Beautiful in the moment and gone before the morning comes.

Wilma Harju: For me fireworks became a sort of symbol for how we humans are so easily blinded by beauty and what we sometimes see past in order to get pleasure. The potentially negative effects that fireworks can have on other species and nature is overshadowed by its fleeting beauty and the fact that we can get joy from it. I also thought about the visual, and metaphorical, similarities with flowers. We perceive them as beautiful and their flowering only takes place for a short moment. But this beauty is never enough, we want the chemical beauty, and nature is the one that get to experience the negative sides of that. This is what I approached in the ’’Phantom’’ series, I thought of flowers and fireworks as phantoms of each other and wanted to somehow disguise one with the other.

’’Bat out of Hell’’ alludes to how animals are used in the marketing of fireworks. Looking at retailer websites I noticed that a sort of ’’warfare’’ language and aesthetics were used, in combination with devilish looking spiders, rats, bats and so on. The name of a firework rocket could be ’’Scorpion World Destroyer’’ or, which the title of my work is a reference to, ’’Bat out of Hell’’. I got irritated by these design choices and way of marketing, considering what kind of product is being sold. I think I projected that irritation on the animals that were used, because I started to get images in my head of bats that had had enough – crawling out of their caves to revolt against us.


Ashik Zaman

SKF/ Konstnärshuset

Iris Hautaniemi

Wilma Harju

Ebba Alling