From May 12 to August 28, 2016, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents the Spanish premiere of Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s The Annunciation (The Annunciation — Marian Ilmestys), 2010. This will be the seventh work to appear in the Museum’s Film & Video Gallery, inaugurated in 2014 and dedicated to video art, video installation, and the moving image.
Eija-Liisa Ahtila (b. 1959, Hämeenlinna, Finland) shot The Annunciation on the snowy Aulanko Nature Reserve in southern Finland during the winter of 2010. The installation consists of three projections which reenact a well-known passage in the Gospel of Luke (1:26–38) that narrates one of the most important themes in Christian iconography, which is also the central motif of some of the earliest paintings to successfully use perspective.
Although based on an existing script, the action and dialogue were adapted to each actor’s individual presence during the filming process. All of the performers except two are non-professionals, and most of them are clients of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute’s women’s support services. The animal actors are a trained raven, two donkeys, and a group of carrier pigeons from a bird farm.
The underlying viewpoint in this Annunciation is Estonian biologist Jacob von Uexküll’s (b. 1864; d. 1944) idea that the different worlds of living beings all exist simultaneously. This concept implies certain limits, because it means living with and next to others; the same idea is also used to explore the nature of miracles and the possibilities of perception and knowledge. In the work, the actors are engaged in a process of reconstructing the sacred and redefining the human through the divine and the animal.