Maaria moves us within the language of subtle fluidity of meaning. We men always think that we have to create symbols to survive in the collective memory after our death, or obsessively avoid symbols in our lives. Fortunately for the in-between, there are artists like her.

Maaria — brings light to dark chapters of human behaviour, light as a presence and hope, so that such injustice might never happen again.

She offers and suggests joys and happiness. It is difficult to visualize these short moments, moments when generations of beings condense harmony and enchantment into actions that do not seek to attain a place in history, moments in which the desire to voyeurism and thought become one in life.

The frame, oil, turpentine – Vanity fair.
Dust is a more sensitive material.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

The making, the growth. The projection of wish and silence when breath becomes form. The suggestion of absence through presence. The wish to sense all distances in the openness. Ascend the glass ladder without climbing. Invitation to feel consciously without signs and symbols. Lessons in silence, in respect, in the non-acceptance of habits in space.

Maaria is quite somebody & something.

Harald Szeemann

Maaria Wirkkala has the ability to render suffering ordinary. Austerity and simplicity bring out the dialogue between pain and gentleness. The difficulty of living in this world, whether private or collective, is brought home to the viewer with subtle simplicity.

Pirkko Siltala


From The Space of Moments
Published in So What – Maaria Wirkkala exhibition catalogue in 2002, in collaboration with Helsinki Festival and Kunsthalle Helsinki

Two fundamental forces coalesce in the work of Maaria Wirkkala – the desire to illuminate shadows and the need to establish new relationships between people, places and things. Maaria Wirkkala sets out from a given situation and explores its complexity in order to uncover its poetic potential or charge it with new meanings. Some items in her vocabulary (chairs, screens, fields of light) feature in different works, creating an associative continuum of emotions and reflections which on each occasion take on new meaning.

Maaria Wirkkala conceptualises her works as a space for encountering either oneself or others. Her creations are force fields for us to project our individual or collective phantoms in. They make us feel that art is still a valid instrument for generating emotional, meaningful transferences, as well as for coming to grips with the stranger that dwells without, which at times may well be ourselves.

Rosa Martinez

Art critic, independent curator

From the catalogue of the 49th Venice Biennial, Plateau of Humankind

We could say that object in Maaria Wirkkala’s installation function like prose, rather than as objects with firm object-hood. They are not objects to be appreciated as art objects by themselves, but function as actors in relation to the atmosphere within which they are displayed. Their meaning can be open-ended, relying on the viewer’s possibility to relate to the world outside the visible space, like an invisibly approaching ship. They speak about the entire environment surrounding the work, connecting our thoughts, hopes, memories and imagination.

Toshio Kondo

Curator, Art Front

From A ship on the Ocean
Published in Wandering – Maaria Wirkkala in 2011 by Tabulava Art Books

Maaria’s gestures are very precise, often small. They cannot be explained. You just have to shut your mouth. You have to step outside of language, be quiet and wonder. You have to accept beauty. It is no use trying to analyse. Maaria takes a space and places a small sign here, another there, in seemingly random locations, although they are positioned using the most precise instrument of all, intuition. Alternatively she halts things that are in progress, moves them about a little, and it is only then that we begin to see them.

Elina Brotherus


From an insert in Wandering – Maaria Wirkkala in 2011 by Tabulava Art Books

Wirkkala’s works offer a quiet resistance to our materialistic culture and to the institution of art, which materialises and projects value on to everything. Her works resist being caught up either in the norms of art or in museums’ collection stores. Most of them have been constructed in places that are outside the normal artworld, and which in terms of conventional aesthetic values are non-sites. The duration of the works is the period of just one showing, or the moment of a never-repeated performance. They prompt the viewer to listen to the quietness of the world. Since, as Rilke writes: “Art can emerge only from a purely anonymous, silent centre”.

Juhani Pallasmaa

Professor of architecture

From Rooms of Memory
Published in Dream Screen – Maaria Wirkkala, by jack-in-the-box, 2001
Refrence: Rainer Maria Rilke: Hiljainen taiteen sisin. Kirjeitä vuosilta 1900-1926 (toim. Liisa Enwald).
TAI-teos, Helsinki, 1997

In Maaria Wirkkala’s art, the unattainable makes possible that which gives birth to joy. This means being on the boundary, or threshold, that connects opposites and allows things to emerge. It is simply a question of light needing darkness, coldness needing heat, the future needing the past, and joy needing sorrow, to become an actualised experience.

The works are born of a doubting gesture that engenders joy. A gesture, which means that a work has become, or emerges as, a tentative attempt to reach, understand, see, and connect. This gesture is meaningful, because it does not fumble about or doubt in weakness, but in certainty instead. A certainty that is strength can, however, only emerge in the forum of transience – and it is only this, the moment that has already passed, that is given to us.

Hanna Johansson

Art historian

From In Maaria’s Circus
Published in So What – Maaria Wirkkala exhibition catalogue in 2002, in collaboration with Helsinki Festival and Kunsthalle Helsinki