Mika Taanila (*1965 Finland) is an experimental and avant-garde film-maker and visual artist based in Helsinki. He moves fluently from the fields of documentary film-making and avant-garde cinema to the visual arts. In addition to traditional cinematic screenings, Taanila also shows his video films and installations, photographs and paper-based work in galleries and museums.
Thematically, Taanila’s work deals with the issues of artificial urban surroundings and futuristic utopias of contemporary science often combined with the notion of failure and collapse. Memory and the gradual loss of it, human efforts to capture ”everything”, as paralleled with the fragility of analogue technology is one of his major themes as well.
Taanila’s works have been shown at major international group shows, such as Aichi Triennale (2013), Documenta (2012), Shanghai Biennale (2006), Berlin Biennale (2004), Manifesta (2002) and Istanbul Biennial (2001). Solo shows include Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (2013–14), Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2013), TENT, Rotterdam (2013), Galleria Heino, Helsinki (2010), Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2008), Dazibao, Montréal (2007) and Migros-Museum, Zurich (2005). Taanila’s short films have been screened altogether at more than 300 international film festivals and special events. Festival screenings include Toronto International Film Festival, IFFR Rotterdam, International Short Film Festival Clermont-Ferrand, Karlovy-Vary Film Festival, Midnight Sun Film Festival, IDFA Amsterdam and Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage. His most recent work, “Tectonic Plate”, a feature-length film without a camera premiered at the 66th Berlinale, Forum Expanded, in 2016.
Taanila’s moving image projects can be categorized somewhere between the traditions of classic documentary film-making, avant-garde and video art. His most notable films are Futuro – A New Stance for Tomorrow (1998) and Optical Sound (2005), both winners of the under 30-minute prize at the Tampere Film Festival. Taanila’s first feature-length film Return of the Atom (co-directed with Jussi Eerola) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015 and won the NORDIC:DOX Award at the CPH:DOX 2015 film festival. Taanila’s camera-less lettrist feature film Tectonic Plate was premiered at Berlinale 2016. The Ars Fennica Award, Finland’s most important art award, was presented to Mika Taanila in 2015. The most recent major accomplishment was his selection to participate in the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, for the Nordic Pavilion.
In 2015, Mika Taanila co-founded Elokuvayhtiö Testifilmi Oy with Jussi Eerola and IC-98 (Patrik Söderlund, Visa Suonpää). Testifilmi is a Helsinki-based production company focusing on ambitious film art.