"No Man's Land": Maria Viirros' Exhibition at Galleri Neuf

Written by Vera Maria Gjermundsen
Photos by Norunn Marie Nese

«No Man’s Land» is Galleri Neuf’s second exhibition of Spring 2018. It displays the works of the artist Maria Viirros, a Finnish exchange student at KHiO at the department of drawing and printmaking. It is her interest in printmaking that in fact has brought forward the main body of the works exhibited in «No Man’s Land».


Having previously worked with the symbolic and aesthetic qualities of knives, Viirros has now moved onto exploring the flat shapes of targets and brain scans, as well as the smaller and, one could say, symbolically denser form of the bullet. Enlarged images of black bullets on dark coloured backgrounds are displayed on the walls, while a myriad of white bullets, cast from bullet cases, multiply the symbol’s presence on the floor. The same images move from surface to surface, from medium to medium, engulfing the spectator in a captivating experience of visual refraction. The spectator is exposed to the sharp edges of Viirros’ vivid imaginary in every corner of the gallery, as the rawness of weapons and targets extends before our eyes as if we were looking at a shattered mirror.


However, this is just the beginning of Viirros’ artistic practice. In fact, one of her main interests lies not only in the images themselves, but in understanding the way in which humans act and react when in contact with objects with strong and painful associative qualities.

By bringing the darkness of such topics into the light of the gallery room, Viirros confronts us with the strength and diversity of our own emotional responses, as well as with all the different truths that we create for ourselves in our day to day life, when confronted with pain and suffering.


As an artist, Maria Viirros goes on questioning the processes behind our happy-go-lucky society, turning a critical eye to how we tend to lift up only the beautiful and the pleasant, keeping the more dramatic elements of the emotional spectrum at bay. What happens in «No Man’s land» is the exact reverse of this tendency: here melancholy and subtle harmony arise from the shadows, form the spaces «in between», highlighting the unpredictable beauty of sadness and grief.


Thus, «No Man’s Land» opens up for a fascinating dynamic: by shedding light upon the well kept darkness of our present world, Maria Viirros lets the symbols and images overlap with our own imaginary, inviting our associations to come forward in a fascinating layering process.

What we are left with, when leaving the exhibition, is the unexpected feeling of being observed by Viirros’ artistic practice: the feeling that Maria Viirros does not simply exhibit works, but instead opens up a room for interaction between pain and our responses to it, as well as between the art and ourselves as spectators, and, first and foremost, as human beings.