Liina Siib: Exiting Films through the Back Door

Eha Komissarov

Movie Posters 
This series of works presented in the form of movie posters is a unique example of the actual inexhaustibility of possibilities for the synthesis of different spheres of culture that has hitherto not been practised in this form in Estonia.
Even the most cursory examination of these works conditionally defined as posters can ascertain a multi-layered texture consisting of poetic mood pictures, film-like and photo-like images, from which stories and narratives moving in many different directions branch out, in turn becoming evidence of the awakening and existence of the viewer’s own dreamy and craving subjectivity in the consciousness of the potential viewer.
It is certainly easy for female viewers to arrive at a dialogue with the stories of the characters depicted on the posters because the heros of most of the films introduced by the posters are women of different ages.
This is a multi-layered structure built up in a complex manner that arouses interest through its composition and ways of communication.
The starting point of the Movie Posters series could conditionally be considered the photograph, actually the extensive archive of photographs taken by Liina Siib in different parts of the world.

These works have nothing to do with photography in its traditional sense. The relationship of the artist to the photographic images substantially contradicts the authenticity of photography. It forces the photograph to speak in the language of film and demonstrates the execution of film-like staging strategies. How do such alterations take place if we just consider the differences that exist between the frozen, motionless photographic image and the moving image of film?
The works of Liina Siib also prove that one cannot trace the metamorphosis that has redesigned viewing through computer manipulation alone, which is the other essential part of this structure, because the photographic picture space frozen in place is broadened through series of interruptions. The computer is only a means of manipulation, the central conceptual point of which is the deep and proficient intervention into the nature of film language.

The third structure criss-crosses through film media and stands out by its knowledge of the subject matter. The dialogue of the author with the nuances of film language and their transformation into posters is the most effective part of the entire series.
In this case, we must still speak of film language in the context of posters.
A successful movie poster enjoys the dynamic essence characteristic of film frames that is often achieved by bringing out some film frame with the help of sharp, raw angles and contrasts. Liina Siib’s series is nevertheless not an advertisement intended to contribute to the success of a film in a direct sense, but rather an independent work of figurative art that hides itself behind the values that dominate the screen. This work of art disguised as a poster proceeding over the media of film speaks to the viewer at the same time in an eloquent language filled with nuances that the viewer has acquired by watching films, simultaneously offering new dimensions that dislocate language.

Becoming an Independent Work of Art
The mood pictures and dreams we see in this series seem very familiar and Liina Siib’s communication is indeed founded on the joy of recognition.

The artist does not actually show the viewer anything new with her film stories. The posters are rather like screens where well-known film clichés and standard codes of presentation are recorded. We find stereotypes and standards familiar from the film world in the characters – for example, characters à la ‘belong to me’ or eccentrics speaking of social rejection, although even these elements work in seamless co-operation with known codes of presentation when considering the structure of artist’s frame composition. The poses of the heros express ideals and standards of behaviour accepted in our culture and conjure up film-like melodramas. Is there irony in Liina Siib’s pastiches? She evidently treats with irony the standards of film clichés that millions of viewers long to identify with in their everyday lives, but there is no irony regarding the aesthetic sovereignty achieved by the language of film. The artist is charmed by the metaphoric radiance surrounding film images and for this reason the viewer can trust her.

At some point, we are all prisoners of the art of film. The path of the most creative part of contemporary modern art also proceeds by forming concentric circles around the art of film. Liina Siib undoubtedly sees the art of film through her own eyes. One can consider her series as a commentary of this circulation, in which the spheres of memory and feelings of the author herself come into play. Visual stimulus is received from the film images of Movie Posters through which the memories and psychic reflections existing in the subconscious can be analysed. This series is carried by the ‘dreaming person’, whose identification process proceeds through manipulations of idealisation, games of fantasy and peeking into the subconscious. The construction of the dreaming person is fixated in the concept of idealisation that helps increase the value of phenomena. The characteristic traits of Liina Siib as an artist are revealed in this series through the ability to idealise by setting the artificial in contrast with the authentic that is fixed in her own remembered images and experiences.

The text is written for the booklet of the exhibition Klips! at the Gallery of the Hansabank in Tallinn, 2002