Installation at UMKC Belger Arts Center, Kansas City, MO

Introduction from catalog essay by the curator Kate Hackman:

“Kati Toivanen’s “Whirl” is an evocative, immersive installation environment which invokes the iconography of play to confront a range of issues related to childhood and passages to adulthood. Though each artwork functions independently, the exhibition was conceived and resonates as a unified whole – a poetic, layered landscape of images, objects, video projections, and sounds. Sensations and meanings compound through the course of navigating this charged terrain of familiar but significantly altered games and toys.

Throughout, we are reminded of the double-edged nature of play as (not unlike art) having both nothing and everything to do with “real life.” While designed for pleasure/release, games are also vehicles for defining identity: testing abilities, absorbing codes, acquiring skills, forming relationships, establishing rank. By mining the metaphoric potential of these matters, Toivanen gives physical form to the emotional complexities of childhood and the potential for pain inextricably linked to traversing life’s “playground.” “Whirl” ultimately exposes play as a potent symbolic language, cultural ritual, and rite of passage that leaves lasting marks.”

All images © Kati Toivanen

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