Aino Portraits: Nina Backman

Mar 9 - May 4, 2021

NVA's viewing room is pleased to present a curated selection of Aino Portraits, a series of photographic autoportraits by Finnish, Berlin based artist Nina Backman. 



All artworks are here presented are priced with framing, but are also available without framing upon request. Please note that the NATURE SERIES editions are available in two alternative sizes, 100 x 94cm and 160 x 200cm.


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  • Nina Backman is a Finnish artist, performer, curator and founder of the Silence Project. She was born in Helsinki, Finland and originally studied Performance Design at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts in the UK. The hallmarks of silence weave through Backman’s art leaving traces of a veiled depth. In challenging the space between installation, performance and visual art, silence is integral to the artistic process. For Backman, silence brings together different but related elements within a conceptual frame, in turn creating new dialogues. These set out to invite critical reflection, to expose layers otherwise unnoticed, to challenge perceptions as yet outside our realm of experience. She exhibits internationally and her work can be found in both privet and public collections. Her works have been exhibited at Malmö Museum, Gallen - Kallela Museum, Punkt O Gallery 15, West Bund Art Center in China, Aedes - The Metropolitan Laboratory and Berliner Festspiele among others. Nina Backman is behind the performative Silence Meal, A Million Trees to Finland where planting trees is seen as contemporary art practice as well as a collective action to fight the climate crises. Her performance Silence Meal is presented by the Maestro arts in London. She lives and works both in Berlin and in Helsinki.

  • Works

  • Aino is a performance piece presented with photographs, films and installations. Aino explores the fundamental need for home, identity and a personal freedom of choice. The photographs and films reflect an exploratory juxtaposition of traditional symbols and anarchic attitudes; a visual experiment of cultural uprootedness that draws on mythical references, past and present. The female character Aino is from the Finnish national epic Kalevala, a mythological collection of Finnish and Karelian folk poems and songs. It was compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th Century, who collected the tales from remote villages where they had been passed on by oral tradition. Kalevala continues to have an important role in establishing and stabilizing Finnish inheritance and language today.

  • The costume she wears is not innocent. It carries a heavy load of symbolic evidence and gravity with it.
    Neither is the title of the series just a neutral denominator. It is called Aino, referring to one of the central
    characters in the Finnish national epic called Kalevala, a collection of oral histories that was first brought
    together in 1835. Both the dress and the figure Aino are nearly impossible to disentangle from the
    grounding myths of the Finnish national romantic ideology and social imagination.

    Mika Hannula

  • Nature Series

    Large prints of 160 cm x 200 cm available upon request.
  • For Nina Backman, Aino is not simply a victim. She is not a glorified hero of self-empowerment, but she
    becomes an example of the mythical powers of transformation. With the drowning, something ends
    while something else is just about to emerge, just about to begin. And it is precisely this point of
    transgression that Backman is interested in – and what she keeps addressing and challenging. It is not
    the transformation from black to white, from one extreme to the other, but a chance that highlights all the
    variables of the shades of colors available. And yes, this in-betweenness, this domain of never ceasing
    unbalance is the domain of chance. It is the site for hope.
    It is the hope for us being able to act differently, to make our moves so that they alter the ways where
    we are and how we are there. In this process of give and take, leaving and entering the scene of the act,
    the scene of the crime of passion, it is essential to comprehend that we are not completely inside or
    outside. We are both-and; we are part of the problem, part of the mess. We are chasing identities, which
    keep annoying, harassing and attacking us. We are emotional hooligans.

    Mika Hannula, art critic