World Festival of Animated Film /
6 to 11 June 2022
World Festival of Animated Film / 6 to 11 June 2022
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12/05 – 12/06
TUE–FRI 11:00-19:00
SAT–SUN  10:00-18:00

Close your eyes and you’ll see clearer with your mind’s eye.
Timo Viljakainen

Eyes Closed, Mind Open

It is impossible to fathom what the portrayed artist is really thinking with his eyes closed, but it is not impossible to imagine. In the wake of the game of creative substitutions between the roles of artist (author, creator) and observer (audience), i.e. the one who actively creates content versus the one who passively receives and perceptively connotes it, it is possible to read the cycle of photographs Behind the Eyes the World by Finnish photographer Tim Viljakainen.

Focused on the idea of capturing the moment when closing one’s eyes abruptly breaks touch with the observer, when, according to the photographer, “the portrayed author retreats into his world and his thoughts,” when he sets a silent dam impossible to cross and grasp what he is thinking about, even less what he is fantasising about, Viljakainen consciously distorts the perspective and offers the observer the possibility of experiencing what he is looking at. It is a possibility of imagination and endless creations just like the ones that on another occasion, while building a world out of his imagination, the author of an animated film translates into reality. This is the peculiarity of this project – photographic portraits of artists, although they momentarily really fixate on closed eyes as obstacles on the threshold of the protagonists’ inner worlds, at the same time as universal portals they simply draw the eye of the beholder to embark, with every new blink, on a sail along the deeply introspective cognitive landscape where discoveries of countless new possible narratives await.

Referring consciously to André Breton and the legacy of Surrealism, which emphasise the theme of closed eyes in terms of elimination of the senses as an important act in order to reverse the artistic experiential paradigm as an inside view – towards the subconscious and dreamlike worlds, Viljakainen articulates his photographs (portraits) both as piece with a deeply ensconced inner world of the portrayed protagonist, and as one of the possible realities the observer can talk about to himself and others with eyes wide open. Moreover, when Viljakainen declares that ‘even when he closes his eyes, the author may be working on a new frame’, he sees the portrayed authors – artists who create a very special personal visual universe – almost as demiurges – as rulers of vast cognitive plains who skilfully ‘translate’ them into reality. At the same time, he articulates the creativity of animators in the sense of an inexhaustible source of fascinating worlds, where everything is possible, as a proof of the everlasting survival of the realm of infinite freedom.

The freedom that dreams between two blinks.

The Behind the Eyes the World photo series is a project that the Finnish photographer Timo Viljakainen has been working on since the early 1990s and with which he is presenting himself to the local audience for the first time at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, as part of the exhibition segment of the World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb, celebrating its 50th birthday in 2022.

Paola Orlić