© Kuvasto 2016. Photo: © Bank of Finland
Kari Cavén (b. 1954)is an artist to whom everyday items and material are not unfamiliar. He is a recycler, a rescuer of familiar and rejected items alike from flea markets. Mediaeval alchemists unsuccessfully attempted to change cheap metals into gold, whereas Cavén is able to refine almost any material into art.
Old spoons rearranged on a wall form a small pocket of woodland – landscape art at its best. Well-worn chairs can be reformed by Cavén into an arched bridge here or upside down into a rolling “rocking chair” there. In his hands, a line of toy cars grows into a spiral reminiscent of a labyrinth. In addition to individual pieces of art, Cavén has created a wide range of public works throughout the Nordic countries. For example, in the Malmö harbour area of Västra Hamn, in 2001, Cavén designed a water feature, constructed from a tiled wall and tens of old-fashioned taps – a witty marriage of everyday items and the monumental.
Hung on the wall, “Cool Panties” looks like a light metal net, whose shapes cast a fine woven shadow on the wall. On close inspection the net is made of hundreds of connected paperclips. There are 2688 of them. Making this piece of art must have taken as much patience as that expected of net makers of old.
In addition to all its other properties, “Cool Panties” is also a piece of conceptual art. Its name could be taken as meaning ‘nice panties’, giving its triangular form a whole new meaning. If, however, we keep to the basic meaning of ‘cool’ with its connotation of something that is cold, then the piece represents panties in which one wouldn’t be hot. In the end we also have to take into account the fetish-like qualities of the piece, the erotic hint of panties. Cavén’s works can be compared with Esko Tirronen’s “Fragment”, a pop-art painting of a woman’s knee.