Boyancy by Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen

Gasworks presents the first UK institutional solo exhibition by Finland-based artist Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen. Making use of nature as raw material, Laakkonen’s process-based practice and durational works reflect on the profound impact of human interactions with the environment, while addressing wider existential concerns around time, death and the limits of scientific knowledge.

14.4. – 19.6.2022

Check gallery website


Gasworks, 155 Vauxhall Street, London SE11 5RH

Exhibition ,

Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen will present a newly-commissioned performance and large-scale sculpture entitled Framed Sea Cow. This work is based on the features of a skeleton, documented by German explorer Georg Wilhelm Steller, of a female sea cow killed in 1742, just one year after the species was ‘discovered’. The Steller’s sea cow is considered to have gone extinct shortly afterwards in 1768, making it the first historical extinction of a marine mammal at human hands.

Presented as a live durational performance, Laakkonen’s work will bring this extinct sirenian back into existence. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, the artist will carefully craft and assemble a wooden replica of this creature’s huge skeleton in the gallery, based solely on the written description provided by Steller in the 18th century. Once completed, the resulting sculpture will remain dramatically suspended in the gallery like a ship in a bottle. 

As part of the public programme accompanying the exhibition, Laakkonen will present his first ever musical performance. Entitled Flock of Birds, it consists of a short, repetitive composition written for an ensemble of novice wind instrument players from local music schools in South London. The composition is divided into simple steps so that each musician plays a single note in sequential order, thus drifting in and out of sync like a flock of birds.

Artist Biography

Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen is an artist based in Rovaniemi, Finland. Recent solo exhibitions include Kunstverein München, Munich (2019); Kohta, Helsinki (2017); Corvi-Mora, London (2017 and 2015). He has exhibited internationally at organisations including Kiasma, Helsinki; Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; Ystads Konstmuseum, Ystad; Lofoten International Art Festival, Svolvær; MHKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp; and KHM Gallery, Malmö.