24 February–2 April 2000

“The Finnish artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila starts with ostensible banalities that she breaks down and reassembles, as in a dream. ‘Consolation Service’ is about a young couple about to divorce, divided into three acts. The first takes place at a counseling office, the second at a birthday party where the guests go out on the ice, break through and drown. The last act depicts an attempt at reconciliation. Initially, the artist acts as an observant neighbor, but is then drawn into the story and crawls under the skin of its young female protagonist. /…/ See ‘Consolation Service’ if you have found video art to be pretentious and boring. Like many others, Eija-Liisa Ahtila works on the border between documentary and fiction and takes inspiration from commercials and rock videos. But her artistic identity cuts through most things. The method is similar to symbolism in terms of the sliding between outer and inner worlds, fantasy and reality. However, the works have a much more intense pulse. Their magic lies in a suggestive split in parallel sequences and a musical imbalance between image and sound.”

Translated quote from DN, 2000-03-11, Ingela Lind. Read full text in Swedish.

“Eija-Liisa Ahtila’s video ‘Consolation Service’ is a very strong and dense film, 23 minutes long and masterfully executed. The topic is wide and complex, conveyed with clear symbolism in rapid image changes. The film is about the inability of contact and closeness between two people, but also an inability to see that love can be expressed in different ways. They both have a strong longing for each other, but their fear of showing vulnerability, of daring to be loved and of loving themselves without control and manipulation, prevails. In the final scene, J-P shows Anne that you can bow instead of fight. When she bows down before him, he steps out of her life for the first time without leaving an absence and nothingness behind.”

Translated quote from SvD, 2000-03-04, Anna Brodow. Read full text in Swedish.