Sanja Pahoki: To The Centre of The Earth and Back (Iceland) is the artist's first solo exhibition with the gallery. In July of this year Pahoki travelled to Germany and Scandinavia, undertaking a road trip through Iceland. This was the artist’s third visit since her first studio residency in Iceland in 2008, and To The Centre of The Earth and Back (Iceland) comprises photographs taken on these recent travels.
The exhibition continues Pahoki’s exploration of the passage of time and her navigation of the distance between memory and reality. Whilst continuing the artist’s love affair with the Nordic region, the exhibition also puts truth to the adage ‘you can never go back’. In Berlin, ‘for old time’s sake’, Pahoki visits the Berlin Zoo, expecting to find a memorial to Knut, the popular polar bear who died in his enclosure of a brain haemorrhage in 2011 . Instead she finds Knut replaced by two brown bears, or as one of her photographs suggests, by people in bearsuits – as if no one might notice the difference. This disjuncture between nature and artifice that pervades Pahoki’s photographs is heightened by their installation against the highly keyed colour of the gallery walls, painted by Pahoki for the exhibition.
To The Centre of the Earth and Back (Iceland) calls to mind the opening lines of L.P. Hartley’s 1953 novel The Go-Between: ‘The past is another country: they do things differently there’. However, even while traveling through faraway places in her search for inspiration, Pahoki concedes she can only photograph what is actually there.