Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen creates large scale installation pieces, using recycled materials and fabrics to transform spaces.

Her pieces typically have environmental undertones, and Are We Still Going On? is no exception. Kaikkonen strung together used button down dress shirts to create the shape of a ship vessel.

“We are all in the same boat, and the boat is our environment," Kaikkonen says. "So if we do not take care of it, we cannot go on. Or can we go on consuming? What about our economical situation--can we go on like this?”

The installation lives inside the old Max Mara fashion company’s factory Reggio Emilia, Italy. The work is extremely site-specific--most of the clothes used to construct the boat belonged to workers at the textile factory.

The shirt arms are stretching outwards, as if they’re holding hands. From the right angle, it looks like a choir of ghosts.

Kaikkonen’s other installation pieces are typically viewed from afar, or from the side. Are We Still Going On? is more interactive, because visitors can walk among the hanging fabrics.

The artist, sitting amidst her work.

Her pieces are always carefully arranged by color, so that subtle shifts and gradients create shape just as much as the placement of her materials.

See more of Kaikkonen’s work here.

Co.Design

A Striking Sculpture Of Used Clothing Questions Our Consuming Ways

Finnish artist Kaarina Kaikkonen makes a ship out of clothing worn by workers in a Max Mara textile factory.

Kaarina Kaikkonen says her most recent installation, Are We Still Going On?, is "about all of us as human beings." Which is an ambitious place to begin. More specifically: "We are all in the same boat, and the boat is our environment. So if we do not take care of it, we cannot go on. Or can we go on consuming? What about our economical situation—can we go on like this?"

Kaikkonen’s installations evoke, among other themes, environmental concern. Her very materials—recycled fabrics and materials, and in this case, second-hand shirts that "do not destroy nature"—express this. For her newest piece at Collezione Maramotti, in Reggio Emilia, Italy, she has sculpted a large metaphorical boat out of hanging fabrics. That the installation lives inside the old Max Mara fashion company’s factory adds irony to the site-specific work—most of the clothes used to construct the boat belonged to workers at the textile factory. The hanging shirts are suspended in air, like a massive choir of ghosts. They are relics of a bygone landmark that contributed to the area’s economy.

Unlike some of Kaikkonen’s other well-known works, Are We Still Going On? is immersive and interactive. For the Helsinki-based artist’s Way installation, she covered the steps to the Helsinki Cathedral in a gradient of used men’s jackets. Viewers could stand alongside the work or move back for a panoramic view. But Are We Still Going On? lets spectators shuffle around between the fabrics, which mimics the way they might if they were on the deck of a swaying ship.

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  • BEANTOWN985

    Beautiful stuff. Nice to see someone using their talents to evoke thought in people. The hypocritical thing about a lot of these clothing designers in my opinion is that they always act as thoughthey're artists who are God's gift to the fashion industry yet they are nothing more than am extension of these companies that exploit workers so the "beautiful people" can live more lavish lives.