Drawings Ilkka Sariola
Essay Antti Hurskainen
English translation Kasper Salonen
Graphic design Antti Nylén
Unbound booklet, 36 pages
Paper Edixion Offset 70 g/m2
Printed by Pekan Offset, Helsinki
32 x 46 cm
Edition of 400 copies
Dies Irae is a series of pencil and graphite dust drawings by visual artist Ilkka Sariola. The fifteen-piece series depicts various acts of violence from antiquity to modern-day Helsinki, including serial killings, methods of torture, and murders. Some of these atrocious crimes were committed in secrecy, while others were legally accepted manifestations of authority.
Sariola utilizes the entire spectrum of graphite grey in his drawings. The images exhibit both intricate details and extensive clusters of lines, often forming swirling patterns. The publication is presented in the format of a tabloid newspaper, with the drawings reproduced on its pages using only black printing color. Each picture is accompanied by a short caption written by the artist, providing basic facts and additional information. In a way, the booklet functions like an ordinary newspaper, delivering news of the "Day of Wrath."
The images are arranged in the order of their execution and were created during the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, the backdrop of the Covid disease serves as a contrasting context to the atrocities committed by humans against their fellow beings. These deliberate and incomprehensible acts of evil are perceived within the framework of nature's indifference. Nature is neither a source nor a guarantor of goodness; it is simply a landscape where all possibilities exist.
"Goodness is predictable," writes author Antti Hurskainen in his essay, translated into English by Kasper Salonen. On the other hand, evilness is chaotic, unpredictable, and explosive – even when it stems from prolonged design, creativity, and imagination, as is often the case. Hurskainen points out one of the pictures in the series, a depiction of crucifixion that does not necessarily portray Jesus Christ, as the series includes other methods of torture and execution where the victims remain anonymous. According to Hurskainen, the crucial element in Sariola's black-gray depiction of crucifixion is the vertical beam to which the victim is attached. This simple geometric shape, a 90-degree angle, appears to contrast with the disorderly swirls of evilness. "World history knows indisputable cases of chaos giving way to order: buildings still standing, roads with no potholes, and songs with no discord."
The publication, comprising the series of drawings and a literary essay, does not represent "artistic research." Instead, it presents the results of research. The horrific events have been meticulously examined, observed, and contemplated for a significant period of time. Dies Irae is not entirely desolate; it is direct. As Hurskainen points out, the series lacks lamentation, moralism, romanticization, and, most importantly, the lazy fantasies of "never again." Sariola seems to imply that there will be more. Yet, throughout it all, the 90-degree angle remains. "Forget the flower growing through a crack in the pavement; focus on the asphalt itself, which allows the next car to be carried along."
The large unbound booklet is offset printed, and the high-quality printed images closely resemble the originals in color, though not in dimensions. They may even be suitable for hanging on a wall. The edition consists of 400 numbered copies.