Elsa Salonen – Buni Buana (Hidden World)

Installaatiokuva Elsa Salosen näyttelystä

Elsa Salonen – Buni Buana (Hidden World)

The installation exhibits colour samples from various natural elements distilled or ground onto a microscopic slide.

On each slide, the artist has painted images of nature spirits related to the animist worldview with transparent paint. These painted spirits become visible only through their shadows, revealing a hidden layer of nature’s reality.

Active agency of natural elements

Salonen collected various natural elements for the installation in Java, Indonesia: rocks, plants, soil, volcanic ash as well as seashells and pieces of dead corals. According to animism, every single plant, rock and tree is inhabited by an active agency, possibly even a spiritual consciousness, which has the right to live regardless of its instrumental utility to human needs.

In her work, Salonen has examined ancient Finnish nature religion, which she has compared to local animistic traditions together with local residents in Indonesia and Colombia. People have traditionally believed that nature spirits show themselves to their viewer in a form that the viewer can understand, which is why the figures revealed on the microscopic slides have been given a human-like form.

Part of the 2020 exhibition series

The exhibition is part of the 2020 exhibition series The Things We Are Made Of, the design process of which Ece Pazarbaşı, Turkish-born curator working in Berlin, participated in. The idea of the exhibition series was to draw attention to what separates and what connects us: ultimately, we are all made of the same elements.The exhibitions in the series examine the nature and existence of humans.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elsa Salonen’s exhibition was postponed to spring 2021.

International exhibitions

Elsa Salonen (b. 1984, Turku) combines mysticism and science in her art. Her works, which are also inspired by animism and alchemy, lie somewhere between installation, painting and conceptual art. To realise the conceptual nature of each piece, Salonen prepares her own pigments from special natural materials – from meteorites to colours distilled from plants.

Salonen graduated from the Fine Arts Academy Of Bologna, Italy, in 2008. Over the past decade, she has been working mainly in Berlin. Salonen’s works have been exhibited worldwide, e.g. in Schwartzsche Villa and Kunstverein Wiesbaden in Germany, Viborg Kunsthal in Denmark, Miguel Urrutia Art Museum in Bogotá and Lissone Museum of Contemporary Art in Milan.

NB. All visitors need to book a timed slot for their visit in advance.


  • adults 10 €
  • reduced price 5 €
  • 7–15 yrs. 4 €
  • family ticket 24 €
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